Pay to Play. The lesser-known type of “artist management”.
Updated: Mar 26
As the arts have become increasingly oversaturated in the past decades, certain unsavory “artist management” companies have decided to prey on emerging artists, many of whom already invested tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in their careers (for example: degrees in music, private lessons, album releases, multicam videos etc).
It's a dirty little secret that for every “A-list” artist on the now-defunct Colombia Artists Management, there were countless artists placed on a lower tier and offered far inferior contracts. It is those contracts which actually made the agency money.
There are “artist managements” on the market, which offer, for a few hundred bucks per month, services such as 5 hours of marketing phone calls per month, a web listing, three 30-minute career consulting calls per year and a PDF kit dossier. Note, this does not guarantee any engagements, and in the days of social media, it can all be accomplished by the artist themselves, at zero cost.
Some of them may even offer limited concert engagement opportunities with symphony orchestras and performing arts series in the West and even in Latin America. Artists are promised that participation in such programs will expose them to music directors and series program coordinators. The average cost of such a “mentorship” is upwards of $1500 per engagement/concert
For that amount of money, one could rent a venue, promote the event, sell tickets and merchandise (such as albums) and have the possibility of AT LEAST breaking even and/or enriching one’s career and accomplishing artistic goals (remember those), instead of empowering these “management” companies, which simply generate revenue from the artists paying them.
Of course, the consumers (in this case, the artists themselves) can decide how they spend their money. That being said, these examples are undoubtedly only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the classical music industry as a whole, which has been putting many artists last, for decades.