Teressa Malevu is set on changing the tune of musicians towards managers and has started offering a comprehensive management service

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

South Africa's fledgling music industry might not be well-equipped to develop music managers, but VIP Solutions co-owner Teressa Malevu is paving the way for young people interested in the music business.

"Though the country has a lot of talent, we are still behind in terms of infrastructure and regulation," Malevu says.

"The main reason is that there is the lack of funds going into the industry and the lack of support for people hoping to go into the profession of music management. The end result is that most people think a manager is a glorified booking agent or just someone to take calls."

Though VIP Solutions has only been operating for four months, Malevu has been working as a freelance marketing co-ordinator for 18 months.

"I was working on a wide variety of accounts, including public relations, social projects and training programmes, when a friend of mine who is an artist approached me to organise logistics for him," she says.

"I got so involved in music that I began to see the inadequacies within the industry.

"I decided to formally focus on music and today we have three bands that we dedicate all our energies to. We are handling all the business-related aspects: booking gigs, negotiating with record companies, promotions, publishing and creating relationships with retailers."

Malevu says that most artists in South Africa don't have a clear idea of what a manager's role entails and managers end up adding little value to artists' careers.

"A lot of artists think that a manager's role is just to book gigs, and they don't maximise themselves through marketing, record sales and image development.

"This is what record companies take advantage of, and unfortunately some managers out there try to rip off their clients," Malevu says.

"A manager's job is so much more than just looking for venues. A good manager will take care of all the key elements that contribute to a successful musician.

"Knowledge in promotions, co-ordination and product management is also important so that you can negotiate with event organisers or even organise gigs in an affordable way."

This year's second Music Manager's Forum of South Africa (MMFSA) was held last week and it dealt with the up- and downsides of the various recording contract options.

"The recording contract is an example of the ways that a manager can help the artist to get the best from their career," Malevu says.

Without a formalised academic programme for music managers, aspiring managers need to collect skills from various disciplines such as law, marketing and finance.

"Wits Plus has just started offering a course in marketing music, and University of Johannesburg has a certificate course in entertainment law," says Malevu.

"Other than that there is not much else. All you can do is join many organisations like the MMFSA and learn from other professionals in the field."