How to find, and what to expect from a Music Manager

Posted by Daniel Hodson (Updated: Sunday, January 3, 2021)

Approximately 7 minutes reading time

What to Expect From a Music Manager

A qualified music manager can truly work their magic in helping to promote your talent and music. They work hard behind the scenes to ensure you are recognized in the eyes of those that can take your music to the next level; industry professionals such as booking agencies, promoters, record companies, and loads more. A music manager requires extremely strong organizational skills, enthusiasm, and dedication, to help their clients succeed by offering a multitude of useful contacts, while possessing and maintaining a great reputation for themselves and their clients, within the music industry.

Music managers tend to take care of the business-related side of things, such as negotiations and contracts, so bands and artists can remain focussed on their music. However, this isn’t to say the artist/s won't get an opinion or insight on what they do; ultimately. it is still their decision on what they choose to accept or reject, but they also have an addition of advice from their music manager to help them settle. Working closely with the music manager and maintaining good and open communication, is essential to a successful progression route to becoming known.


Finding a Music Manager

Finding a music manager you trust and value can be difficult, and the last thing you want is to be taken advantage of, but you’ll notice the addition of a music manager makes a huge difference, especially as the music industry is renowned for being tough and difficult to breakthrough. The person you partner with needs to have morally good values, transparent honesty, and thoroughly know the music industry inside out. They need plenty of clients to show others trust them, but not so many that they don't have time to take care of your needs. Sounds almost impossible, right? Don’t be discouraged; good music managers undoubtedly exist - it’s part of the musical journey to figure out who will be a good fit for you and your music brand.

The specifics of what a music manager will handle for a band or artist can vary, so you should never assume what they will cover for you. Liaise with them in a consultation to find out what they are willing to do, but also what they aren’t. Ideally, you want a music manager who can wear many hats - someone you can count on to cover a significant portion of your needs. Ensure you always read closely over any contractual agreements, and be willing to negotiate; consider hiring a music lawyer as they could save you greatly in the long run.


Staying Organized

There is plenty for a music manager to do, so strong organizational and negotiating skills are essential for them to help grow and develop their clients. They cannot afford to take their eye off the ball, even when it comes to answering phone calls, pitching, and sharing information. A good music manager will not ever put their clients on the back burner; they will effectively prioritize their workload and make the most of the time they have available. Some music managers opt to work alone, while other global music management companies also have support staff to assist them.

For the most part, music managers will likewise take the time to help you organize yourself and advise on how to best utilize your time. You’ll know that when you’re a musician, certain extras could get you noticed, and it’s not always just about the music. For example, a music manager may ask you to consider taking part in charity events and interviews, develop your brand to enhance and/or change your image, and discuss alternative merchandise options. All of these suggestions are part of a bigger picture for a band or artist, and it takes plenty of efficient organizing to make it happen.


Communication Between You and a Music Manager

Your music manager will work for you, therefore they should keep you informed and constantly in the loop about the plans and efforts in motion, to help you grow your musical career. Essentially, they should strive to communicate and provide you with great opportunities and terms for promotions, as well as seek contracts and offers for live performances, which are often in collaboration with your booking agent. While a music manager works for you and develops your musical brand, any concerns and questions you have should be answered timely, and they should always let you know about any barriers they could and do come up against. 

Consider that not all opportunities presented to you, are necessarily good options to pursue. Therefore, your music manager has the responsibility to explain the pros and cons, provide professional advice and recommendations, all the while explaining why. A good music manager will want you to have a long career in the music business, and simply not become a one-hit-wonder.


Useful Contacts

A successful music manager will usually have many years in the industry behind them, and consequently, will have networked their way to boast a plethora of respected music industry contacts. They will know how, when, and who to reach out to, to gain an artist or band some level of success.

The music industry network will often know and respect the music manager, therefore they will take the time to listen to what the manager has to say and offer. Ultimately, they will not want to let a potential, great new artist slip through their fingers. This is why it is important to try and ensure any music manager you are considering working with, has such contacts in place. 

The broad network that comes with good music management can often open many doors, resulting in more opportunities and time for you to play your music, and focus on liberating your creativity. In most cases, you will have the potential to play higher-profile shows, land better tours, sign to bigger and better record labels, and become an authority in the public eye for your music. Don’t forget, by putting all of your heart and energy into your performances and creativity, you may still be an opening act at first, but it’s a start. So grind your way and pay your dues, rise through the ranks, and hopefully one day, you may be the headline act at a sold-out show.


Excellent Reputation 

Good music managers must have an excellent reputation. The music industry is close-knit, and partly separated by genre, so maintaining a positive relationship with everyone they meet and network within the music business is imperative.

The guidance you are given and how your music manager pitches you to their network matters; you want to be known for your music and talent, not for your music manager’s lack of professionalism. The more you grow, the higher the commission a music manager will receive, which is often between 10% to 20% of all net profits. Always remember, avoid working with anyone that cuts corners or doesn't follow through on the commitments they agree to; you need a passionate and dedicated team behind you, and representing you, to succeed. 



Consider spending a considerable amount of time talking and discussing with a music manager, and inform them of what you are looking for, as well as expecting from them. In return, see what they offer and what they could potentially bring to the table.

A consultation is usually free, and presents you with a time to ask questions and gather information. It’s important not to jump straight in. Take the time to mull it over, and if you feel they are a good match for you, you’ll partner with them. If not, thank them for their time and keep looking.


A reputable music manager will take the time to create a contract if you agree to work with them, sharing details of what they will do for you and the costs involved. Typically, these costs ordinarily encompass a commissioned percentage of any money generated from your music, but in very rare cases for “baby bands”, a monthly retainer may be requested. This is considered to be a controversial model, and will not work for everyone.

Always read through a contract thoroughly, and ensure you agree to all aspects of it before you sign it. Note: alarm bells should be ringing and you should never work with a music manager if they don't agree to put all terms, arrangements, and agreements in writing! 

There will also be additional contracts to consider as a relationship develops between yourself and your music manager. These contracts, in most cases, will be concerning an opportunity secured by your manager with another source, such as a record label or booking agent. This normally covers all parties involved and ensures all persons know their responsibilities, eliminating the risk of someone within the group not staying true to the agreement in place. These contracts will be legally binding in court, so again, don't sign anything you don't plan to follow through with.

Go the Distance

A motivated music manager will do their best to support an up and coming artist get their name and music out there, by helping to create the right image, message, and maintaining a good reputation. This is often a pitfall for bands and artists, as it is a common misconception that music is everything nowadays. It’s essential that both the artist/s and music manager think outside the box, and strive to become something different; perhaps the next big thing! There are plenty of artists out there trying to secure an opportunity in the spotlight, so you need to think: what makes you special? 

A great music manager will not make empty promises; with belief in you and your talent, they will share you to their network, and be honest about the positives and negatives of the industry, always to progress your music and success to the next level. A good music manager will work hard, always go the extra mile, and resolutely stand behind their clients. They will not take on anyone and everyone as a client; they are selective, showing honesty and faith in you. This allows them to build a solid reputation and promote some of the best artists around. Remember: it’s up to you to take the time to search for a music manager you can connect with, and ultimately, someone who is passionate and wants to see you succeed.


With so many bands and artists striving to become the next breakthrough act, the music industry cannot keep up with the demand for all the acts seeking representation. Because of this, competition is at an all-time high, so having a music manager in your team will benefit the likelihood of your music being heard by gatekeepers in the music industry, who could take you to the next level of your career.

Having a music manager that can guide you through the complications, pitfalls, and traps that you could otherwise fall into is invaluable long-term, and an absolute must when your music is popular enough to draw the attention of record labels. Whilst all of these are positives in developing your musical project, finding the right manager that aligns with your goals and aims is crucial, so do not settle unless they can bring true value to you.

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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