Are you considering getting into the music business? wondering how to manage a music artist? It’s an exciting career, and you can make good money. But it’s not for the faint of heart or someone who needs nights and weekends off.
Before we begin, if you are a band looking for some helpful information about finding a music manager, take a look at this blog, “Finding a Music Manager Who’s Right for Your Band,”
To be successful, you need to know the industry. Music managers go by different titles like artist manager, band manager, or talent manager. Whatever you call them, they wear many hats. Artist managers don’t necessarily play an instrument, but they must love music and the people who make it.
In this blog, we’ll briefly cover what hats they wear and some resources for you to find out more about this unique career opportunity.
Who Makes a Good Artist Manager?
(The Beatles with their manager, Brian Epstein)
First and foremost, a successful music manager loves their clients. They believe in their music. It’s almost impossible to manage someone if the person or the band lacks skills. A band manager must have the confidence that they have a star on their hands.
Sometimes, artist managers must be available 24/7 to prepare for gigs and manage unexpected incidents. It helps if you have some business aptitude and enjoy working with different people every day.
The manager is the business director who handles all the finances, payments, collections, and contract negotiations.
What Do Music Managers Do?
The short answer is everything that puts the artist into money-making and publicity opportunities. They mediate between the artist and the rest of the music industry, allowing the artist to focus on their music. A manager helps develop career strategies, including turning down gigs that could hurt the band’s image.
Briefly, some of the tasks involved when managing a music artist:
- Assess talent to find artists who have potential
- Negotiate deals and contracts
- Draft business plans
- Coordinate marketing and advertising
- Book and develop strategies for tours
- Manage budgets and cash flow
- Support the artist’s creative vision
- Organize calendars
When learning how to manage a music artist, you can expect a steep learning curve and ton of administrative work.
For another perspective, check out this video from Phase VI - Music Management 101: What Do Music Managers Do?
How to Manage a Music Artist or Band
Reuben Avery, a band manager for a 9-piece R&B band, Phonix, says, “Managing a band is running a company. Communication is vital to getting everyone on the same page as well as keeping ideas flowing.” He spends much of the time coordinating the calendar and ensuring everyone has all the information for rehearsals and gigs.
The manager sets targets and reduces wasted time. Instead of a 3-hour beer-drinking jam session, they ask “why are we rehearsing?”, and “what do we want to achieve in these rehearsals?” Managing a music artist well is like being a coach, always bringing out the best in their artist.
When managing a music artist, organizational skills are critical. There are so many details to tie down before a band can play a gig. The manager must keep track of:
- Lead and contact information (tip: use lead forms)
- Dates for gigs and rehearsals (sync calendars to a central feed)
- Dates for invoicing and payments (use great invoicing and the payment software)
- Following up on leads (auto follow-up email software will save your life!)
- Sheet music and setlists (“Smart Setlists” are the future)
There are many hours of emails, contacts, and phone calls a manager must make every week for a band to maintain momentum. Ideally, they’ll use professional artist management software to keep track of all these details and keep the band informed.
A manager should have an overview of the band’s strategy, set goals, and be the driving force to stay on track to achieve them. Like any business, the manager holds people accountable. They make sure the members are doing everything they need to succeed while saying “no” to the things they shouldn’t.
For an in-depth resource, you can subscribe to SmartestU on YouTube. Jamie New created an online school specifically to help new music managers get into the music business. Here is one of her videos, “How To Manage An Artist In The Music Business.”
For another perspective, check out music pro, Damian Keyes’ video, “How to Become a Band Manager.” He gives experienced advice about band and artist management.
Lighten Your Artist Management Admin Tasks, Automate!
Once you head down the path of managing an music artist or band, you’ll quickly learn that the administration details can be overwhelming. You want an assistant, but you can’t afford one when starting.
Here’s the solution for any band or music artist manager:
The Back On Stage web app can take over about 80 percent of the tedious administrative details, leaving you with more time for family or for making more deals and booking gigs.
The Back On Stage app will make you much more organized and efficient as a music manager.
Soar to New Heights, Musically and Financially
Being a music artist manager is a demanding job. The more your act(s) grow, the more everyone will demand your attention. The band manager functions on both a business and a personal level. One minute you are emailing contacts and paying bills, and the next, you are the referee to an argument between band members.
You are a bookkeeper and a peacekeeper, a legal advisor, and a therapist. But is it worth it?
How Much Does A Music Artist Manager Make?
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are roughly 19,400 managers and agents working today. Their salaries range from $33,440 to $187,600 or more.
If you catch a rising star, you can end up touring internationally. Most of your income is from commissions, 15% to 20% of the artist’s gross income. Typically, you’ll see 10% for the first $100k, 15% up to $500k, and 20% above that.Learning how to manage a music artist well will involve getting organized. Use tools like Back On Stage to stay organized, and you’ll earn an excellent reputation. The music industry is the best place to work if you can manage it and not let it manage you.