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The truth: why managers won’t come anywhere near you

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(Image credit: mgkaya/Getty)

Mark Clayden knows his way around the music business as a performer, record label owner and educator. For a full list of his accomplishments, see the end of this article. But for now, allow us to present the next installment of Your Music, Your Business, his no-holds-barred series for MusicRadar. 


I’ve written some simple, free, bite-sized, no bullshit blogs on how to get ahead as an artist or musician. You can read each blog in less than 90 seconds. My honest and helpful tips will get you and your music further faster.

I won’t make you famous, but I will make you better.

MD Clayden

What managers need to see

They’re managers not genies, and you’re not Aladdin

If you get a manager, it’s gonna solve all of your problems. You’ll get more high profile gigs and festivals, bigger and better recording deals, and last but not least, you’ll be famous. You will have finally arrived in the music industry. 

Wait, we’re daydreaming here. 

Let’s try and put all of the “If I get a manager…” stuff to one side for a few minutes. How’s it really going to play out then? Let’s look at what really happens. Any and all managers have a checklist for any artist they will even consider working with, and it looks like this...

1. Songs

This is the most important item on the checklist. Without standout, well written songs, you’re wasting everyone’s time, including your own. 

Don’t make the classic rookie error that has been the downfall of hundreds of thousands of musicians before you, of rushing to get material up on the internet, when it’s simply not ready. 

Make the best compositions that you can, and make sure that they are finished, or don’t be a musician


(Image credit: Caspar Benson/Getty)

Why  releasing an album is a waste of time

2. Look and Lifestyle

Do you look believable? Does your image suit the genre of music you play; do you dress the same way as the peers in your genre? Unless you’re the next David Bowie, then trust me, this is a deal breaker. 

Do you look like an artist or band? Too many artists look like they got trapped in a time warp of being in the Sixth Form and were then stranded in the overcrowded barren wasteland of the non-starters


Any manager will want to see that you have, are and will continue to take your online presence and social media platforms very, very seriously. They’re looking for numbers, likes, fans and active engagement.

4. Live

Every move your favourite artists make during a live show and every word they say, has been thought about, thoroughly planned and rehearsed. Nothing about live performance is natural. It’s all manufactured. 

From where artists stand on stage, to how they move, to what they say in-between songs. So, get with the programme and get planning to up your game

5. Believable and Credible

A manager needs to know without a shadow of a doubt that you are 100% believable as an artist/band. That means on and off stage, in interviews and when you meet the general public. 

You are asking people to buy into a lifestyle that you have created and are living. If it’s fake, pretentious or full of holes, people will see through it and then it’s game over, you lose, before you even get out of the starting gate

6. Work ethic

A manager will need to know that you will sacrifice everything for your music. If you can identify with any of these phrases below, you don’t need a manager, you just need to quit being a musician: “I can’t be bothered”, “I’ll do it tomorrow”, “I’m just really tired right now.”


So, to wrap up; that’s right, you will need to tick all of the boxes above to attract managers. They won’t write songs for you, tell you how to look, tell you what to do on stage, tell you how to be credible or hold your hand. 

They’re managers not genies, and you’re not Aladdin. 

They’re looking for an artist who is ready to go and even then it’s not a done deal. They will ask other bands, record labels, booking agents and even other managers what they think of you, before they decide to work with you or not.

(Image credit: Mark Clayden)

Who is Mark Clayden, then?
Mark Clayden is the founding member, songwriter and bass player for Pitchshifter and This is Menace. 

He has: 
• Written, recorded and released eleven albums across eight record labels, including Geffen, MCA and Sanctuary, working with world-renowned producers such as Dave Jerden and Simon Effamy
• Toured over 30 countries at stadium level, including Australia, USA, Japan, Canada and Jamaica, with artists such as Iggy Pop,Black Sabbath, Public Enemy, Faith No More, Queens of the Stone Age, Incubus, Metallica, Deftones, Limp Bizkit, Korn and Ozzy Osbourne
• Performed on the main stages at Reading Festival, Vans Warped Tour, Download Festival, the Big Day Out and Ozzfest
• Recorded radio sessions for John Peel, Radio One and XFM
• Secured publishing deals with EMI, including placement of songs into Hollywood films international television shows, adverts and video games
• Founded, ran and managed his own record label, PSI Records
• For more info on Pitchshifter, see