Meet Patrice K. Cokley, known as the Marketing Consultant behind online presence of Mathew Knowles (Beyoncé & Solange’s dad). She’s also the recipient of The 2019 ‘Mentor of the Year’ Award from SAE Institute Chicago.
Q. Tell us about yourself and your background in Artist Management?
A. I’m a Music Business and Marketing Consultant that owns and operates The Bassline Group, a talent development and management company based in Illinois. I’m also an educator and have taught at SAE Institute for 3 years within their Music Business (now Entertainment) program where I received the Mentor of The Year in 2019. I was a musician as a child, turned artist, and have worked with other artists since high school. I officially started managing artists later in life when I formed The Bassline Group. Up until then, I studied the music business independently while attending college and received my BS and MBA in Marketing.
Q. What attributes should an Artist consider before partnering with a manager/management?
A. A budget for promotion and marketing, and enough business that would require management. I feel that some artists seek managers out too early, thinking it’s the cool or right thing to do. What most need are either assistants to help them with the business side of music or consultants to help guide them. Managers should only come into the picture until there’s some kind of momentum or work that could be leveraged into better opportunities, depending on your goals.
Q. What are the most difficult challenges of a manager or management?
A. Managing personalities of everyone you encounter on behalf of the artist, INCLUDING the artist. Everyone may not share your professionalism, work ethic, communication style, etc, so it can be quite challenging getting things done for that reason. As a manager, one of your duties is to protect the artists, have the difficult conversations, and look out for their best interest. Because of that, you’re going to need thick skin and be ready to put up a fight to make sure your artist isn’t being taken advantage of. That alone can be challenging for some.
Q. What is the most important promo strategy every indie publisher should add to their arsenal to enable their project cut through the noise?
Once you have that, the most important promo strategy would involve some kind of visual, whether its a short promo video or an official music video that tells a story. All of us are naturally visual people, so its imperative to have a visual that captures the essence of the song. Once you have that, invest in social media ads, YouTube ads, YouTube playlists, promo pages on Instagram, email blasts, etc. Focus on getting it out to as many people/outlets as possible because you never know who’s going to see it.
Q. How do managers get paid and what is the most common sharing formula?
A. Historically, managers got paid 10-20% commission on all artist revenues, but this pay structure is shifting now that the role of a manager is evolving. Before, a manager would discover raw talent, work with the artist to record a demo, then shop the demo around to labels for a record deal. The manager would then receive a commission from the advance and future royalties and other income. With the backing of a label, that money was almost guaranteed.
Today, an artist doesn’t even need a record deal or label to release music and earn a living. So a manager has now become more of a project manager, overseeing all aspects of the artist’s business and music. Some are even wearing multiple hats (social media manager, graphic designer, web designer, booking agent, marketing strategist, A&R, etc) until the artist makes enough to afford additional help. As a result, some managers are charging a monthly retainer until the artist hits a certain amount of revenue that would make a commission structure worthwhile. I’ve also seen managers charge a smaller monthly retainer and a smaller percentage of commission. So it really depends on the parties involved and the amount of work they’re facing.
Q. What’s your view on Branding and Marketing in relation to Music Business?
A. It’s important…more important than the music honestly, and extremely necessary in order to stand out. Every successful artist has a brand, meaning that they’re known for something. And that brand was heavily marketed. In today’s climate, the music is a byproduct of the brand and used as a marketing tool. This isn’t the case for ALL artists (H.E.R. is a great example), but certainly the majority.
Q. Can you recommend a book, podcast or any other article(s) for self-published Artists?
- Book – All You Need to Know About the Music Business – Donald Passman
- Book – How to Make it in the New Music Business – Ari Herstand
- Podcast – Earn Your Leisure
- Podcast – Creative Juice
- Podcast – Drink Champs
- Music Business Worldwide is a great resource to keep up with current events in the music industry.
- Songtrust has great resources on Music Publishing, even if you don’t use them for your publishing administration.
- I’m also an advocate for autobiographies and interviews. I think it’s great to learn the backstory of successful artists.
Q. How do you sort out paperwork (fees) for services rendered without ruining your relationship with clients?
A. Sorting out paperwork and fees have never been a problem for me because of my reputation. I’m known for being about my business, and helping artists become more business savvy, so paperwork and fees is not a surprise. I practice what I preach and make sure we deal with the business side of things first so there’s no confusion in the future. I tell artists they should do the same, especially when it comes to working with other artists. It’s always best to discuss splits and get it in writing BEFORE a song is released. It would even be better if it was done BEFORE you all start creating.
Q. What’s your take on West-African rhythms and sounds (Afrobeats)?
A. I think it’s dope. I have a manager-buddy of mine who is heavily involved in that market. He keeps me up-to-date on what’s going on and other trends. I love the fact that it’s becoming more mainstream.
…Any last words for aspiring Managers?
Learn the business, especially music publishing and various deal structures. Be professional at all times. Your actions are a representation of not only you, but your client and team too. Only work with artists you are passionate about because you will be underpaid and maybe even underappreciated starting out. Being a manager is a very thankless job. You could be the force behind the artist outside of the studio, and people will congratulate the artist FIRST for things that occurred outside of the studio, even if they know you’re the mastermind behind it all. So I advise managers to be very selective when choosing who to work with. Don’t be afraid to showcase your work. Bring value to the artist, and make sure there’s a mutual respect between you two, because both parties need each other to reach a certain level of success.
Team ‘Oddy Jay’ wishes you all the best with love from Lagos, Nigeria.
Awards & Mentions
- Mentor of the Year, 2019
Links to past projects