For Artists: Personal Manager’s Contract

Personal Manager’s Contract

For Artists: Personal Manager’s Contract

It is not uncommon for professional artists to hire the services of a personal manager to help manage and organize their careers. A manager can also help an artist open doors for new opportunities. A personal manager is different than a business manager, as they are expected to help on a more intimate level. Below, we will lay out some considerations when drawing up a Personal Manager’s contract.

Personal Managers are similar to talent managers but do not fill the same role as agents. Their duties cast a wide net of responsibilities, covering career enhancement though not specifically procuring jobs, which is the agent’s role. Personal managers, rather, help organize the artist, offer guidance, and act as a liaison to legal counsel and other entertainment professionals.

The right Personal Manager can give an artist a serious advantage in an extremely competitive industry. When hiring a Personal Manager, the options should be weighed very carefully, and the following should be taken into consideration:

  • Does your personal manager have some legitimate certification or association?
  • Are there some references you could talk to including some existing and former clients for input without the personal manager’s influence?
  • Are they relatively well-connected in the community?
  • Do you like their attitude, personality; and can they work well with other members of your team including but not limited to your legal counsel and agent?
  • Does your personal manager provide you the level of service you reasonably expect and contract for? Sometimes, if the personal manager or its company has many other clients like you, you might find it difficult connecting with your personal manager while you cannot easily get out of the contract.
  • Do they represent other people in the entertainment industry besides your own fields such as writers, producers and directors?


Personal Manager’s Contract

Personal managers often come on when the artist has started to gain some success and needs someone to guide them through their career. The people sought for this role have industry experience and connections so that they can be of help to an artist. Most Personal Manager’s contract terms last about 2-7 years.

It is typical for Personal Managers to try to secure a longer contract, while an artist may seek out a shorter one to ascertain if it is a good working relationship. For this reason, it is advisable to set a trial period, in which the Personal Manager needs to meet certain conditions before having the option to extend. This allows the Artist to exit the contract if the Manager is not meeting their needs, and for the Manager to get a feel of what they can expect from the artist.

A short-term contract like this is especially prudent for a less established artist, who should not be entering a contract with a Personal Manager for more than a year, as they may not yet know what their career needs will be.

Conditions to Extend the Term of Contract

The conditions to extend the timeframe of a contract depend on the negotiations between the parties involved and the following guidelines and benchmarks may want to be implemented into the extension.

The artist may choose to extend the time only if the Personal Manager can secure a deal from major label companies such as CBS, Warner Bros., or  MCA within a 1 year of signing the contract. If extending time through options exercisable by the Personal Manager, the Artist should seek to be notified within 90 days if they do not want to exercise the option so that they can limit any interruption to their career. Most Personal Managers will seek three or four 1-year options. These options allow Personal Managers to see the benefits of their hard work play out.


Services Rendered by Personal Managers

The contractually obligated services of a Personal Manager don’t vary much, unless specifically requested by the involved parties. There are some areas that are more flexible, including:

  • Whether the Artist must be present to receive advice by Personal Manager. The definition and scope of “present” should be intelligently drafted.
  • Whether Artist must be “co-operative” with Personal Manager to receive advice. Again, “co-operative” could be a term of art.
  • Whether Personal Manager must use “reasonable efforts”, “best efforts” or some other barometer. Such former terms are nebulous at best and counsel might need to supplant the with terms more appreciable and ascertainable.
  • Whether Personal Manager must render services ONLY after being called upon for advice.

There are two extremes in the relationship of an artist and Personal Manager, one being for the Personal Manager to transform the alter ego of the artist, taking control of their lives and decisions, or for them to be more Laissez-faire and rendering their service on an as-needed basis.

Compensation for Personal Manager

The compensation paid to a Personal Manager is open to negotiation. It is usually contingent on the artist earning and receiving payment and then a percentage being paid to the Manager based on those earnings. Monies earned but not received are not commissionable. If money is earned during the term of the Manager’s contract, but received outside of the term, the portion should still be paid to the Manager.

The Personal Manager’s commission can fall anywhere between 10 and 20 percent, though it has been known to be as high as 50 percent of gross earnings.

The Personal Manager’s commission is based on a scale, so the more money received by the artist, the more money the Personal Manager receives.


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