To be a good music manager you need to be organised, excellent with people and have a good understanding of the industry as it stands today.
Your basic role is to bring together the people and projects which meet the goals of the artist and their record company. That goal could be anything from generating a top 10 hit or getting a gig at Rolling Loud, Summer Jam or any other big event that gives promotion to the musician. Either way, you have to co-ordinate all aspects of the project, work with individuals and organisations such as event promoters, publicity agents and talent-booking agencies – as well as the artists and record labels you represent.
It’s down to you to ensure all projects run smoothly, deadlines are met and campaigns come together. Each party will be obsessing about their individual task, so it’s critical for a manager to remain focused on the bigger picture and end goal.
Your tasks also depend on what point your client is at in their career. If an artist is signed to a record label, you’ll need to keep in mind what they want to achieve for the musician. If you’re managing unsigned artists, your priority will be to generate as much work as possible to get them noticed and paid.
Whether you’re managing unknown musicians or major record labels, it’s important to understand the field of music in which your clients operate. Each different type of music has its own scene, fan base and unique way of working.
It’s important to research the music business you’re in – or want to enter – and identify the key influencers, from the big promoters and broadcasters, to record companies. Get to know the structure of the companies you’re dealing with too – be clear about how business is conducted, who is responsible for what and who the decision-makers are. Then go out and grab their attention and command their respect.
Having an influential network helps, so always be professional but friendly and approachable to maintain and create new contacts.
You will also need to be able to cope well under pressure. Dealing with a range of different characters and organisations, all with their own pressures, can be challenging. When someone loses their cool you have to make sure you don’t – it’s your job to keep calm, see the strategic picture and put out the fires that other people start.
If you’re looking for a way into management then having a presence at the right places is a great way to get noticed. Many managers get appointed in all types of situations, such as gigs or clubs as nearly all the key people will be there.
Most managers start as promoters, assistants, engineers or even artists. Putting time in at different levels of the industry will arm you well in the future. The best way to start is to get experience in different departments and work your way up.
Starting you own operation is a great way to break into management and will gain you some real experience. It may feel like you’re at the bottom of a mountain, but it won’t be long until you find yourself half way to the top.
The music business is a great industry to work in, but to be a manager requires drive and determination which is driven by a passion for music. It’s fiercely competitive but, once you’ve made it, it can be one of the most fulfilling and often financially rewarding careers.