Music Managers – Everything You Need to Know
A music manager is a person who manages the business aspects of an artist. A manager must have excellent organizational skills and keep the artist on track to achieving success.
It is a job that requires experience, creativity, and hustling. Musicians get to enjoy all the spotlight while their managers take care of important work behind the scenes.
Yet, there are a few who have made a name for themselves and are known for their high-profile clientele such as Scooter Braun for Justin Bieber and Ariana Grande or Troy Carter for Lady Gaga.
These music managers are known for their organizational skills and how well they understand people of the music industry today.
This article aims to explore the high functioning world of Music managers and the grit of their hard work that plays a substantial role in making the musicians find their footing in the industry.
What Does a Music Manager Do?
The role of a music manager is to watch over every aspect of an artist/band’s music career path apart from lyric writing, recording the music, and performing.
A manager acts as a buffer between the artist and the rest of the music industry so that the artist can completely focus on the musical art. He/she has to bring together the people and the projects which comply with the goals of the artist/band and the record company.
Both the artist/band and the manager are like partners. They are supposed to collaborate on everything. Either it is dealing with live venue performances, working with record labels, paperwork, logistics, fan-following, talent-booking, promotions and publicity, and more.
How Much Does A Music Manager Get Paid?
Most music managers work on commissions rather than a fixed amount. They get paid a certain percentage of what the artist/band makes. The standard fixed commission rate ranges from 10 to 20 percent of gross artist revenue but this figure can vary greatly.
Some managers take up a percentage of net revenue which means they get paid after tending to a particular set of expenses. These usually include live performance expenditures for e.g. travelling and transportation or agent fee.
All of this has to be negotiated up front. Bands and managers should never wait until they have ‘hit it big’ before they start talking about finances.
The sky is the limit when it comes to potential earnings that you can make as a music manager. However, it’s easy to get trapped into earning almost nothing.
As a music manager, you need to be very business-like in your choice of which artists to manage. Do you think they really have a go of being successful and earning money?
The music industry is saturated with artists. Although there is always room for the greats to rise to the top, unfortuantely there will be many left behind. If you choose to work for a band that has no future, then you will be choosing to work for almost no reward.
How to Become a Music Manager?
Technically, there are qualification requirements to becoming a music manager. The majority of the artist/band mangers would surprise you by saying that they accidentally landed in the music industry.
Most of the time it’s either the artist/band choosing you to represent them (after you accept) or you decide to seek out unknown talents on your own and introduce their music to the world via various connections.
Those managers who have built up a huge reputation for themselves today used to be a newbie as well. Every single artist/band manager has to start at some point.
There are two main approaches on how to become one:
1. Work for Existing Industry Professionals
You can work as an intern or an apprentice under the supervision of an acclaimed manager. Unlike the usual job vacancies that are posted on the media, manager positions are almost never seen in newspapers or on job websites.
To get yourself hired (even if it is for internship) you need to be present at the right places and expand your social circle within the music business.
This way you will get noticed pretty quickly. Build contacts, or ask colleagues and acquaintances how you want to work with a company or a maven.
Being a music manager requires you to get yourself out there all the time. Therefore, it’s no surprise that’s a prerequisite to landing a job in the first place!
2. Offer Yourself up to Unsigned Bands/Artists
For this you need to have a skill of recognizing the right talent.
Understanding the music industry and the changes that come within is a manager’s art. What people want from a band or artist and working with your client toward that goal will not only help them grow but you too.
However, you would not be getting enough money until they become successful.
What is The Difference Between an Agent and a Music Manager?
If an agent is involved, then they will usually focus on the day-to-day booking of live performances. The manager will then focus on implementing strategies for the further development and success of the artist or musical group.
In smaller groups, the manager may also act as an agent.
Agents are more focused on making deals for you by finding opportunities to perform, especially in live concerts and gigs.
Managers are concerned with long-term goals such as unfolding of your career as an artist or a band.
Managers are highly accessible. They are often there for you 24/7, unlike most agents. They are usually working with many clients at a time and only handle certain projects.
Agents assist you in negotiations related to your finances and revenue. They often take their own cut of the band’s earnings, often around 10%.
What’s The Difference Between a Band Manager and a Label A&R Manager?
Label A&R Managers scout and identify talent for record labels. They also work with acts to ensure that their release fits both the label and its audience.
Therefore, the A&R may play a significant role in influencing the creative process of the music.
This may be to the success or the detriment of the music. Some artists want to shape their music to their audience. They might also be missing an angle to their music that could be the key to their success. In this case, the A&R may offer great advice.
Others view their music much more as a personal art-form. These people may find that criticism and direction from a label A&R manager to be unacceptable.
Label A&R’s may also push your music into a tried-and-tested, generic form of what your music should be. If your unique vision for music is non-negotiable, then you may need to find another label that believes in your vision, or go the DIY route when releasing music.
Do You Need a Music Manager?
As an artist, doing everything by yourself may seem great and economical, but it’s very difficult to create music while handling everything related to it.
More and more artists are going the DIY route when it comes to band manager. However, if you’re going to be successful, you will need people behind you to help.
A manager has to cope well under pressure. And an artist-cum-manager can only bear a certain amount of workload before he/she cracks. Your creative process requires a lot more time and energy so it’s always good to have someone else manage the ups and downs and several technicalities that go into arranging mainstream music, or concerts and gigs, or generating lots of money from your art.
As an artist, if you have very good business skills then it’s possible that you can work as your own independent label while releasing music. More and more people are doing it by the day.
However, even if you take the lead, it’s always good to get other people involved that you can delegate work to. These could be promoters or agents, or mixing and mastering engineers to take some of the workload off when preparing music for release.
If you’re struggling to find a music manager, then initially doing the band management work by yourself may help prove to prospects that you’ve got what it takes. It could give them confidence that you would be a reliable artist to work with.
How Do You Find a Music Manager?
Music Managers are often concentrated in the big music areas. For example, in the US, this includes New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, Boston, Denver, Portland, and Nashville.
Even if you are not related to these areas, in this era of fast connectivity and increasing remote work, you can find a good manager sitting hundreds of miles away.
However, you have to be very careful to make sure you’re choosing the right person. Also, make sure to talk to them on the phone plenty of times before you start getting down to any real business. Your band manager should not be a person that’s only accessible via Whatsapp!
Often independent managers are seeking artists themselves. So having both good social circle and a network of contacts is the key. Getting yourself out there may be a lot more difficult, but it’s often a much more successful option than searching for prospects online.
If you’re going for the more commercial angle, then one place to go hunting for a band manager is LinkedIn. Full resumes of managers can be viewed on the profile. Make connections with HR managers of major music companies which will give you exposure to a realm of music professionals.
You can also ask your friends and contacts in the industry to recommend an appropriate manager. Look into management companies and recruit someone who suits your taste.
Verbal and Legal Agreements with Music Managers
The music industry is haunted by artists that have been taken advantage of. As a Band Manager, it’s also important to ensure that legal agreements are in place to ensure that you get paid for what you are entitled to.
Music managers and Artists need to have strong verbal agreements and understandings, backed up by well-thought-out legal agreements. They should be constructed fairly for both the artist and the manager.
Short-term agreements may be a lot more casual than long-term exclusive contracts. Check out this list of artist management legal templates. These should only serve as a starting point to help you understand what topics you need to think about.
Laws vary quite a lot around the world. It’s well worth getting a lawyer that understands the music industry to advise and make amendments where necessary. If you don’t have that much money for legal fees, then it might be worth attempting to start with a legal template document based on the law of your country (e.g. UK, USA, Germany) and getting a lawyer to amend and advise based on that. However, it’s not fun. Legal documents are never fun!
Creating legal documents are a pain at the start They may seem unnecessary. But, if something bad happens a few months or years down the road, you need something to fall back, to ensure you get what you are entitled to.
Music managers are people of importance. If your skills and expertise are enough to take you as far as possible, they could be an integral part of your success.
Good management is a combination of skills that fills the void in an artist’s set of talents. They also often take care of that tasks that artists simply don’t have time to do, without sacrificing their creative output.
The manager and artist are strongly bonded on the basis of trust and honesty. As a music manager you may be responsible for managing a major portion of their music career and the artist/band is dependent on your expertise.
The more money your client makes, the more you will get. Apart from amazing abilities, it requires passion, far-sightedness for profitable deals, business mindedness, and determination.