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There are three items required to become a music manager: business contacts, related work experience, and management skills. A music manager typically works in the entertainment industry, representing the artist or talent. In general, they are responsible for the daily business management of the artist, including booking events, business or product endorsement deals, and recording contracts. Although not required at the beginning of a musical career, most successful musicians have a dedicated manager.
People who want to become a music manager are typically music fans, enjoy making business deals, and have a larger than life personality. The music manager is responsible for making and using business contacts to sell the artist's product. Experienced sales professionals who enjoy personal interaction, working with others, and are detail-oriented find the greatest satisfaction in this role. Many people assume the music manager is a glorified salesperson, but he is also responsible for providing sound advice and has an increasing role as the artist becomes more successful.
The first requirement to become a music manager is to develop a network of business contacts. The standard contacts required to become a music manager include sound engineers, recording studios, local promoters, small and medium size club owners, photographers, marketing staff, and merchandising agencies. Finding new talent is also part of a music manager’s responsibility, requiring contacts in the music publishing industry.
Related work experience includes sales, marketing, and communications roles. For example, many music managers started their careers working in nightclubs, arranging live performances. Interpersonal skills, a clear vision, and working as part of a team are all necessary skills to become a music manager. Experience working in a music television or radio station is very useful, as it provides insight into the steps required to make a music act popular.
The role of music manager expands as the artists become more successful. Over time, the focus shifts from the use of business contacts to executive management. Staff are hired to manage the different aspects of the business, ranging from promotion to contract negotiations. The music manager typically has the closest relationship with the band, and acts on its behalf.
The compensation for a music manager is typically a percentage of the artist's sales, ranging from 10 to 12 percent of gross revenue. In order to become a music manager, many people take internship positions in large, well-known music management companies. These opportunities do not pay well, but offer the opportunity to make contacts, learn how the business works, and gain valuable experience.
I think that a lot of people become music managers by knowing the bands. This is probably not true for major touring bands, but for smaller and midsized bands I think it is pretty common.
Of course, this doesn't mean that they just hire one of their drinking buddies to handle all the important stuff. They tend to be bright guys who have a background in the industry and know what they are doing. But having a personal relationship with the band really helps.