What to expect from a Music Manager

Posted by Daniel Hodson (Updated: Saturday, May 28, 2022)

Approximately 4 minutes reading time

What does a Music Manager do?

A music manager helps a band or artist become more recognisable in the music industry, and strives to ensure their clients music is heard and used regularly by the public and gatekeepers. Advising and directing an artist through their career is the primary role of an artist manager; offering guidance and feedback on performance, steering objectives and providing a strong development plan to grow their client.  

A music manager is there to take the reins of the organizational and business related activities, allowing the band or artist to purely focus on their creativity, with the overall aim of being recognized and developed with a full team behind them. The music manager is the prime individual when it comes to release plans to successfully release new music. A strategic plan must be accomplished to a high standard, taking all aspects of touring, publicity, marketing and timing into account.

Benefits of a Music Manager

Organizing and planning everything internally can be challenging for a band or artist looking to fulfill their potential in the music industry without a music manager. Time that should be spent on the creative process could be neglected whilst trying to internally fill the music manager role. Whilst this is required for a band or artist starting out, as you begin to progress, the pressure to organize and develop the musical project internally could turn counterproductive, and stop growth. For example, networking with promoters to secure shows is important to kick start your music career, but staying on top of everything as the band or artist develops isn’t an easy job; once you become serious and money is involved, legalities can come into play. Music managers are established in their field, and have relationships and knowledge that a band or artist may not have; working with someone that understands the music industry inside out is ideal.

Unsolicited submissions to record labels, festivals and other music related outlets have a lesser chance of success, whereas a music manager that has built rapport and gained a strong relationship with many in the music industry has a higher chance of making the music industry listen. The music manager is treated as a trusted source when it comes to recommending new songs, bands and artists.

Financial Guidance

There is money to be made within the music industry, but in the early stages of a musical project, financial investment is required in most cases to achieve success. Whether a band or artist is early in their career, or on the path to global domination, a music manager helps to manage the financial aspect of the band. This can be negotiating royalties, publishing, promotion, merchandise, or even booking fees in collaboration with the booking agent and music promoters.

Should an artist start to gain traction and yield more money from a release, what are the next steps and how best should the band or artist spend this money so to continue on a successful path? How and where should they invest their newly earned income? It isn't all about money for a lavish lifestyle, and artists can be blinded by money and get tangled up in a contract that isn't right for them; a music manager is there to help a band or artist avoid such a scenario.

Typically, a music manager makes between 10-20% of a band or artists net income, which is the motivator behind growing their client. Trust is important for the relationship to work, as the aim is to develop and grow long term, not just make a quick one-hit sale. In some cases, a monthly retainer is requested as opposed to a commission agreement between music managers and a band or artists; but this is considered a controversial model, and not for everyone.

Marketing

The music industry is ever-changing, and music managers need to adapt to remain strong in their profession. For longevity purposes, it is paramount for a music manager to ensure that their clients are in-line and covering the most efficient methods of PR, marketing and promotion, to have a long-standing music career, and not become dated within the digital age. It is not in the music manager’s interest to make a one-hit-wonder; they want to build a positive relationship with the band or artist for long-term success. 

As the whole industry shifts, music managers must be ready for it; forecasting change, thinking outside the box and helping artists continue to fit the mold of what the audience and music industry is looking for is imperative. If this isn’t pursued, even a top artist can quickly become dated and forgotten about later down the road.

Live Music Support

While a music manager’s primary job isn’t to book and organize live shows, a responsibility is needed to oversee the agreements, locations, and fees. Ensuring all plans are realistic from a logistical point of view, and the band or artist are treated and catered to as well as possible; an exhausted act gives a poor performance! This can be carried through to not only live shows, but live talk shows on the radio, interviews, and more.

Negotiations


In many cases, not all offers and opportunities presented to a band or artist are positive steps in the right direction; accepting everything will be destructive. However, the music manager is there with a plethora of experience to advise their client on the pros and cons with any decision making, whether this be negotiating or rejecting an offer. Music manager’s week-to-week activities involve looking over contracts for their clients, so understand what is considered “standard”, and what is unacceptable.

Explore the Options

A music manager is the right-hand man of any artist or band, and finding the right fit can be what turns a band into an international act. With this in mind, the wrong fit can be expensive and damaging to your musical project; take the time to do your research, learn about their background, and set up a consultation to ensure your aims and objectives align – what can this music manager bring to the table?  

As you speak with them, pay attention to how they act and respond; do they listen to you? Do they answer your questions? Do they seem genuine or rehearsed? Are they willing to put what they offer to you in writing? Their years of experience, motivation, and communication style should all play a role in who you partner with as your music manager.

 

Daniel Hodson

Daniel Hodson is a co-founder of Music Missile, and the drummer and founder of various UK bands. His passion stems from both studying and working in the music industry for the past decade.

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