Music & Entertainment

What Is an Artist Manager? Understanding What a Musician Manager Does and How to Get One for Your Band

Written by MasterClass

Jun 24, 2019 • 4 min read

Behind every successful artist is a talented and hard working manager. Artist management in the music industry is an incredibly hard and fast paced job that is perfect for someone that loves music and wants to play a significant role in shaping an artist’s career.

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What Is an Artist Manager?

An artist manager is the professional representative and advisor for a musician or band. Managers help build an artist’s career and get their client’s music in the hands of producers and label executives, as well as negotiating contracts and setting up tours.

What Are the Duties of an Artist Manager?

A good manager has to wear a lot of hats in handling the business and professional development of their clients. They have a wide array of responsibilities including:

  • Negotiating contracts: Music industry contracts are incredibly complicated. A large part of artist management is advising a client on business decisions and negotiating on their behalf. Because managers have a financial stake in the success of their client, it’s in their interest to negotiate hard for the best possible deals. A good manager has strong interpersonal skills and negotiating acumen.
  • Marketing and image: The success of an artist depends a lot on good marketing and branding. A manager can help craft a musician’s public image with an eye towards current trends in music and pop culture.
  • Touring: Managers work with an artist’s record label and booking agent in putting together their client’s touring schedules. Tours have a lot of moving parts and require strong logistical and planning skills. Managers work to get their clients booked in good venues and markets and follow through to make sure that tours run smoothly.
  • Artist development: Managers help to nurture an artist creatively. Music managers often have contacts in the industry with music producers or other artists who can collaborate with their clients and help them grow as artists. Managers often talk with their clients on a daily basis and help guide them through a variety of musical and business decisions.
  • Promotion: An artist’s success is contingent on good promotion. A manager works hard to promote their clients music and get them featured on music websites and publications that can help spread their reach.
  • Budgeting and money management: Good managers build teams around an artist to help them manage their finances and keep tours and production under budget. Artists rarely have the business acumen or interest in micromanaging every area of their finances. Artist managers often connect their clients with good business managers and accountants to help them manage their money.
  • Multimedia opportunities: As artist’s grow more successful, opportunities crop up outside of the music industry. Music superstars often appear on TV shows and in film in order to diversify their brand and expand their reach beyond just the United States.

How Do Artist Managers Make Money?

Managers are responsible for working out their own individual contracts with the artists they represent. These management contracts almost always involve the artist manager taking a fixed percentage (generally between 15-30%) of the gross revenue (that is income without costs deducted). In rare cases a manager will ask for a net % contract that means they will only make if the artist is making a profit.

How Do You Become a Musician or Band Manager?

Like many jobs in the music business, there are several different paths into music management.

  • Music management companies: Many aspiring managers start working at a management company in an entry-level position. Becoming an assistant or taking an admin position is a good way to learn the ropes and build connections.
  • Seeking out artists: Other managers decide to strike out on their own and pound the pavement looking for fresh new talent. If you happen to catch a musician or band before their career takes, it’s often possible to sign them and help guide their career from the start.
  • Other music jobs: Some managers have prior experience in other music industry jobs, including working in production or at record labels. Being in the industry and around musicians can help build experience and connections that eventually lead to a career in music management.

How Does a Musician Find a Manager?

  • Generate initial success: The first step to finding a manager is making a name for yourself. If you aren’t booking any gigs or getting listens, you don’t yet have much use for a manager. Of course it can be hard to get to the next level without good representation, but you have to put a bit of legwork in before most reputable managers will decide to take you on.
  • Network: Once you’ve made a bit of a name for yourself, it’s important to put yourself out there and start making contacts within the music industry. Having an online presence is also useful in attracting attention from managers.
  • Find the right fit: There are many different kinds of managers and it’s important to find the right fit for you. Some managers work alone and manage only a few artists or bands. Some managers work at large, high-profile management companies. It’s important to sit down with a manager and make sure the goals and expectations you have for your music career are aligned.

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