Aside from creating the actual music, a music manager handles almost everything else in an artist’s career. They negotiate deals, manage performances, and handle all the business affairs artist’s don’t have the time to deal with. If these tasks are right up your alley, becoming a music manager could be the perfect gig for you! Not sure how to get started? Here’s how…
How to Become a Music Manager
Like many jobs in the industry, the work of a music manager can be extremely competitive and exceptionally stressful. Great managers do everything they can to secure the best opportunities for their artists, and sometimes this requires playing many different roles.
A manager needs to:
- Be a liaison between the artist and the rest of the team
- Develop itineraries and manage calendars
- Give advice, whether it’s personal and professional
- Understand artist rights and how royalties work
- Negotiate contracts and fees
- Guide artist’s through the ins and outs of the industry
- Analyze data, set goals, and track and measure results
It’s your job to guide the artist(s) you work with throughout their career and create as many opportunities for them as you can. To do this, you need to be able to multitask. You’ll be tasked with handling all the things they aren’t the best at, so the skills you bring to the table need to be top-notch. That being said, how do you get started?
There are 2 main ways to get into music management:
Consider working for existing industry professionals.
This route is more of a long game. It means finding a position as an apprentice to an established manager or getting a job on the ground floor of a bigger management company and working your way up. With this option, you can learn a lot and gain professional experience from those who have already found success doing the same.
Find a great unestablished band and offer yourself up as their manager.
If you decide to find a new artist at the beginning of their career, you have the opportunity to grow along with them before the majors swoop them up. This means you’ll be working harder for probably less money, but it also forces you to be as passionate and motivated about the artist’s success as they are.
Because until they’re successful and making money, neither are you.
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How Do Music Managers Make Money?
Most music managers work on commission, which means they receive a percentage of their clients’ revenue. Before you start working with someone, you should have a management contract that specifies the percentage of their earnings that go to you. Typically, the average fixed commission rate is 15 to 20 percent.
Realistically, music managers and management companies rarely commission on the entirety of a client’s gross revenue. This is because the artist needs to reinvest a chunk of that revenue into things like tour transportation, service fees to get songs on streaming platforms, publicist fees, and even commission paid to other professionals like lawyers and agents.
Because music managers are responsible for all the legal and business aspects of an artists career, they typically need to have completed a bachelor’s degree in the music business or business in general.
- The National Association of Schools of Music (NASM) accredits over 600 post-secondary music programs and consults with the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business on relevant business degree programs. The NASM requires music business degree programs to contain some work experience in the form of guest lecturers, workshops or internships (nasm.arts-accredit.org). Many institutions even include an industry internship as part of the curriculum, which can provide some entry-level experience and help you build the critical business connections required to become a manager.
You’ve got many other options available to you, too. There are tons of schools out there that offer music management or business degrees. To help narrow it down, here are a couple of the best schools for music management:
Being a music manager is hard work.
There’s always the chance of your client blowing up out of nowhere and seeing major success, bringing you along for the ride. But there’s a much higher chance that getting to that level will take some time and a lot of hard work.
The biggest skill you’ll need to master is gaining the trust of your clients. As an artist manager, you’ll need to make major financial decisions and give advice on very sensitive topics. Whoever you end up working with needs to trust what you have to say. The only way to successfully navigate these tasks is with the utmost honesty and respect for your client and their career. With the right mindset and preparation, you’ll be ready to start managing artists in no time. You got this!