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Artist Manager - What is it? :

An artist manager, also known as a "band manager", is in charge of the business side of being in a band. Often, band members are great at the creative side of things, but aren't so great at promoting themselves, booking their own gigs, or negotiating deals. In a very general sense, the task of a manager is take care of the day to day running of the band's career, so the band can focus on the creative side of things.

Responsibilities of a music manager are often divided among many who manage various aspects of a musical career. With an unsigned act, music managers may assume multiple roles: graphic designer, publicist, promoter, and handling money and finances. As an artist's career develops, responsibilities may grow, and because of their percentage agreement with the band, the manager's income may grow as well. A music manager becomes important to managing the many different pieces that make up a career in music. The manager can assist singers, songwriters, and instrumentalists in molding a career, finding music producers, and developing relationships with record companies, publishers, agents, and the music-loving public. They should carefully consider when certain contributions have been made which would also entitle them to cowriting credits, Executive Producer credit, or Producer credit should they become involved in songwriting, financing works, or actually producing demos and recordings, and should carefully know these jobs and these fees should be considered either as separate from the contract, in addition to the contract, or as free to the musician as clarified in emails and the contract. The duties of an active music manager may include supporting the band's development of a reputation for the musician(s) and building a fan base, which may include mastering and launching a demo CD, developing and releasing press kits, planning promotional activities, creating social network identities for bands, and booking shows. A music manager may be present during recording sessions and should support the artist during the creative process while not interfering between the artist and the producer, but also musicians may also find valuable feedback in 3rd pair of ears and this should be carefully considered as well. They may gain access to a recording studio, photographers, and promotions. He or she will see that CD labels, posters, and promotional materials appropriately represent the band or artist, and that press kits are released in a timely manner to appropriate media. Launching a CD with complementary venues and dates is also a music manager's responsibility.

What Jobs Should an Artist Manager Do? Signed Artists:

The jobs a manager does depends very much on the band and where they are in their careers. For an unsigned band, a manager should:

  • Send out demos to labels, radio stations, local print media, and online publications
  • Book gigs and invite labels and the media to the shows
  • Network and talk to people about the band
  • Help book studio time and practice sessions
  • Explore funding opportunities for the band

For signed artists, managers should:

  • Negotiate financial deals with the label for expenses like touring and recording
  • Oversee other people working for the band, like accountants, agents, and merchandisers.
What Jobs Should an Artist Manager Do? Unsigned Artists:

For an unsigned artist, the manager should be the mouthpiece of the band, and their greatest ally, making sure that everyone else involved in the band's career is doing their job and working hard to promote the band's success. For instance, the manager should be on the phone with the label, asking about advertising campaigns and then on the phone with agent asking about upcoming show opportunities.

What is the Pay Like?:

Managers are generally paid a percentage of the band's income: pften 15% to 20%. In addition to their percentage, managers should not have to cover any expenses out of their own pocket.

There are some things a manager should NOT get a cut of. These including songwriting royalties - in my opinion. You should be aware that there are many different kinds of management deals out there, and the changing face of the music industry has meant a change in management deals. Essentially, the way musicians make their money is in flux, and since the income of the musicians is directly tied to the income of the managers, managers need to make sure they are able to tap into the new sources of money.

Any deal between musicians and managers should be negotiated up front and revisited when significant events occur that could drastically increase or decrease the band's income.

Do Managers Need a Contract?:

In a word, YES. Even if you're managing an unsigned band made up of personal friends and there is no money involved for now, you need to write up an agreement. It doesn't have to be fancy or even supervised by a lawyer. Just jot down what is expected of both manager and band, what the percentage of income for the manager will be if any money should come in, and what happens if band and manager decide to part ways. Many new bands don't want to make their friends sign contracts. Put that out of your mind. When you're entering into a business relationship with a friend, a contract keeps the friendship safe.

How Do I Become a Manager?:

If you think management might be a good fit for you, take a look around you. Do you know any musicians who could use someone to help organize shows or manage their websites? Volunteer to help bands you know, even if it means working for free while you're learning the ropes.

You could also approach a management company and see if they have any internship opportunities available. Like most music careers, if you keep your head down and work hard, the right people will eventually notice.

A&R Careers Agent Cover Art Designer
Manager Music Journalist Music Teacher
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Session Musician
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