Agencies and Managers
It is common today that most artists are represented by an agency. Conducting music is unfortunately only a small part of your job as a conductor. Promoting your business, networking with the right people in the industry, managing finances and negotiating contracts make up the everyday job tasks that also need to be taken care of. Managers and agents are highly impactful professionals who do all of this work for their clients. While agents specifically book jobs, managers take care of everything else surrounding the artists’ business.
A manager can be seen as a mediator between the artist, in this case, the conductor, and the rest of the world. The job is to support each individual client in developing career strategies and coordinating and executing the plans. Managers are often substantial decision-makers in a conductor’s life and usually oversee the day-to-day tasks related to marketing, publicity, music releases, concert booking and tour schedules as well as collecting revenues, fees or other payments stipulated in contracts. All artist-to-manager relationships are different. While some conductors like to be much involved with the business side of the job, others are happy to exclude themselves from this to be able to focus 100% on the music-making. Some managers are also influential creatives and may advise on repertoire, music or soloist collaborations, artist profiling, etc. The manager’s role is basically to fill in the gaps where the conductor needs and asks for help.
Representation and Contacts
Managers and agents are regularly in contact with various music organisations such as concert halls, orchestra managers and festivals which provide working possibilities for their clients. Some orchestras rely heavily on agencies to supply them with conductors who fit their profile, vision and seasonal program. Using an agency for this task is very convenient for busy administration professionals in the institutions. For example, if a conductor falls ill or fails to show up for any other reason, the agencies are usually able to provide short notice substitutes in their place. Some orchestras also find it tedious to have to negotiate contracts and communicate with hundreds of individuals during the year, which is another reason why they like to use the agencies – communication is usually easy and efficient with the professionals working there.
Being represented by an agency can also be seen as a seal of approval by the orchestras looking to book young conductors. If an agency is backing your business, it usually means that someone has already done the job of checking your references and qualifications. Artist managers also often have a long and trusting relationship with specific orchestras, and some orchestras rely heavily on the manager’s opinion, perhaps especially when choosing young or somewhat inexperienced conductors without a lifelong portfolio.
Compiling a complete list of available agencies is a somewhat impossible task. Offers change from year to year; some companies disappear while others appear. But we actually do have access to a long list of agencies (35 pages, in alphabetical order) that we are happy to share with you. This list is collected from The International Artist Managers’ Association (IAMA), which is a worldwide association for classical music artist managements.You may use this as a starting point if you are looking for representation.
Disclaimer: this list was correct as of September 2020.
You may also visit IAMA at https://www.iamaworld.com/ to look up its newest members.
Some may argue that a conductor without an agency has a slim chance of succeeding in the business. The agencies have become prominent institutions with a significant market share and a reputation that can be hard to compete with for independent artists. It is not, however, impossible to succeed without an agency to back you up. But it will require a great deal of dedicated self-promotion and networking to make it happen, as well as the ability to deal with rejection on a regular basis.
In any case where a conductor wants to pursue an international career, it is recommended to have a manager with international contacts, at least if you have not already gained this yourself after years of working in the international music industry. There is not a singular way of succeeding in the business and finding the right management for you specifically may be a challenge. It might happen, and then again, it might not. But if you have all the necessary knowledge and education, if you are a trained conductor, if you have already worked your way up in your home country, if you have attended international master classes and/or competitions, if you have strong recommendations from established musicians and conductors, if you have a vision, if you know your strengths and if your interests are clear, you may want to get in touch with a few agencies to see if a deal can be made. Keep in mind that some agencies favour the young and bold, some managers only work with established maestros and some prefer to work with artists who have specific profiles or in certain genres. It’s recommended that you do some research to find out which ones to approach according to your artistic profile.
Our Early Career Conductors video series contains a lot of discussion about how to attract the attention of agents.