So, you’ve built a flourishing diary of performances and the next question on the tip of your tongue is ‘Do I need an agent?’. 

As part of YCAT's 21cMusician Coffee Break session in April 2021, Lizzy Frost shared her music industry advice on what an artist manager looks for and how to get on their radar. 

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LIZZY FROST

Sulivan Sweetland is an international artist management company developing the careers of conductors, solo instrumentalists, and ensembles all over the world. Lizzy’s role includes classical artist management and promotion of world-class artists including Anoushka Shankar, Avi Avital, Chloë Hanslip, Vivi Vassileva, Leslie Suganandarajah, and the vision string quartet. Inspired by mould-breaking musicians and with a taste for unusual instruments, the boutique team at Sulivan Sweetland actively seeks out artists who challenge convention and forge new directions.

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Here are our ten top takeaways:

  • Personality is key

Everyone is at the top of their game, so being able to show that you are much more than a performing monkey is vital. Showing off your personality and drive is equally as important as your artistic quality.

  • Don’t rest on your laurels

Promoters are looking for something fresh and innovative, particularly in a post-COVID world. There are hundreds of current violinists who can play Beethoven sonatas well, what can you offer that explores and pushes the boundaries?

  • Social media is essential

People are busy so make it easy for prospective artist managers to find you on your social media and website. It takes seven seconds to make an impression so take some time to curate your online profile properly. Check out some tips here about utilising social media effectively.

  • Learning to do the groundwork is valuable

Taking the time to manage your own diary will give you crucial understanding of what it is a manager should be doing for you on a day-to-day basis. Whether that be booking flights, responding to enquiries, or curating recital programmes, the relationship with your manager should be collaborative and based on mutual understanding of what you need!

  • Be proactive

Seek out and create your own performance opportunities - got an idea for an online recital series or project? Go for it! By taking the initiative and working collaboratively with others, you are showing you want to be taken seriously.

  • Seeking management? Let a promoter be your advocate... and be patient!

Agencies receive hundreds of emails every week. If you feel it is the right time for you to be taken on for management, agencies are more likely to pay attention to an orchestra or festival that they trust, who can advocate knowledgeably and passionately on your behalf. Otherwise, be confident, be patient, and wait for an agency to approach you!

  • Choose the right person for you

Regardless of whether an agency is big or small, the most important thing is finding a manager who you can form a good connection with. You will be spending almost as much time corresponding with this person as a close family member or friend, so being able to get on with them is crucial!

  • Be realistic

Are you truly ready to be approaching Wigmore Hall for a solo recital date? It’s good to be ambitious but utilise your local venue or music club connections in your hometown and build from there.

  • Celebrate the small wins

Don’t let the small wins pass you by. Everybody has to start somewhere and getting booked at your local music festival or having a great rehearsal where you felt you were playing at the top of your game should be celebrated!

  • Don’t give up!

Just because you don’t have a manager at this stage does not mean it will be like this forever. Be persistent - J.K. Rowling’s ‘Harry Potter’ series was rejected 12 times before a publisher gave it a chance!