Artist management is an intense, fast-paced and multi-faceted sector that forms an integral part of the music industry. The role of the artist manager is one of great responsibility – managing musicians and bands is no easy task, and a wide range of skills is required to achieve success in this field.
It is a manager’s job to build up an artist’s career, sometimes from the ground up. Those interested in becoming an artist manager don’t necessarily need to keep a beat or hold a tune, but there are certain things you’ll need to consider to find out if this type of role is the right fit for you.
On the flip side, musicians who are looking to hire a manager for the first time also need to know what questions to ask, what traits to look out for, and what hiring a manager really entails.
For Musicians: When, Why & How to Hire a Manager
There isn’t necessarily a set “right time” to hire a manager. Many independent bands/musicians may not have the budget or the need to hire a manager from the get-go, but as a band grows in popularity and work increases, an artist manager can be a lifesaver.
To sum it up, an artist manager is there to do what a lot of musicians may consider the not-so-fun part of the job, such as negotiating contracts, marketing & networking, and managing finances. Managers assist in taking care of the nitty gritty, leaving more time for artists to do what they do best… make art.
It is also an artist manager’s role to promote and build up their client – this can include working with marketing & PR agencies to promote album launches, set up interviews, build their social media presence, and more.
One of, if not the most important roles of a manager is tour management. This means making sure that everything from tour dates, flights, accommodation, payments, merch and promotion is taken care of.
It can be hard to navigate the business side of the music industry, which is why hiring a manager who knows their stuff can mean the difference between success and failure as an artist. An artist manager may not be an expert in every aspect of their client’s business, but that just means a part of their job is to hire the right people to assist with those more niche fields, like a sync agent or social media manager, for example.
A manager’s job is to lift some of the business burden off the shoulders of the musician, so take the time to think about exactly what needs you have as an individual artist or as a band, and find someone who can meet them.
One of the best ways to find a manager is to ask fellow musicians for recommendations. If you’re already signed to a record label, they’ll be able to connect you with someone.
And remember, don’t rush into hiring just anyone. You want someone who gels with you and/or your band, someone who believes in your music and wants to see you succeed.
A couple of traits to look out for in a manager:
Good organizational skills. After all, they’ll be doing most of the planning and organization stuff.
Great communication. Things can only go wrong if there is not a clear and steady line of communication between you and your manager. You also don’t want someone who beats around the bush, or only says what you want to hear. A good manager is one who can be straightforward with you, no matter how tough the conversation might be. Good communication also includes dealing with outside vendors in a professional manner, handling contract negotiations, and forming relationships with key partners.
Forward-thinking & level-headed. When things go wrong – and they will, at times – a good manager will be able to think on their feet and come up with possible solutions.
For Aspiring Managers: Is Artist Management the Right Job for You?
If you’ve always been interested in a career in the music industry, but don’t necessarily see yourself making any actual music, artist management is certainly an option worth considering. The life of the band manager may seem full of glamour and excitement, and it certainly has its moments, but it can also be incredibly stressful.
Managing an artist means no two days are the same, so it’s important to note that if you’re someone who enjoys routine and repetitiveness in your work, this job is most likely not for you. As an artist manager, you’d be wearing many hats – tasks can vary depending on what you’ve been hired for, but for the most part, managers tackle multiple aspects of business.
If you’re wanting to make it in this field, be prepared to act as spokesperson, networker, finance manager, event planner, and sh*t sorter – sometimes all in one day.
The two most common ways to begin managing musicians is to go independent or through a label. Each avenue has its own pros and cons, so speak to those with experience in the field to find out what worked for them. The best would be to begin as an intern or assistant at a management company and work your way up. Some people begin their careers in music production or as artists themselves and end up moving into a management role.
Now, when it comes to the money part, it all depends on what you agree upon with the client. Some managers take a fixed percentage of the gross revenue, or a percentage of net revenue (usually anywhere between 10-15%). Some only take a percentage once an artist starts making a profit.
Whether you’re working for a label or fly solo can also influence how much cash you’re making, which is why conducting your own research and listening to those in the industry is so vital before agreeing to anything.
If you’re someone who works well under pressure, tackles varying tasks with attention to detail and efficiency, and can easily adapt to different situations, then a career in artist management might just be for you.
And a passion for the music industry helps too, of course.