What is a Music Manager? Definition and How To Become One

Updated October 14, 2022

A career in the music industry can offer an exciting work life and the option to be creative during work. One way to enter the music industry is as a music manager, who takes care of the needs of music artists and helps them with most aspects of their careers. You might enjoy a career as a music manager if you appreciate music and like to collaborate with others. In this article, we define what a music manager is and explore what they do, including steps for how to become a music manager.

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What is a music manager?

A music manager is an industry professional who works closely with artists to help them meet their goals. Music managers help with all aspects of a music career, including music production, performance and promotion of the artist. Some music managers come from musical backgrounds and originally enter the industry as artists or in alternative positions in the music industry, such as promoters or assistants, and work their way up to working as music managers. There are also different types of music managers, such as:

  • Personal music manager: Works closely with artists on career strategy and plans for music production

  • Business music manager: Oversees a music artist's official documents, like taxes, income and expenses and making payments

  • Road music manager: Plans the logistics of tours and coordinates transportation, venue set up and scheduling.

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What does a music manager do?

Music managers oversee any task that helps a music artist accomplish their goals for their music. On the music production side, a music manager can find accompanists to play with the artist or band in instances where they require an instrument they might not have. They also help with the logistics of music production, like booking time in a studio and hiring music producers and sound engineers.

Another aspect of a music manager's job is communicating with professionals who can contribute to an artist's publicity, like public relations representatives or talent agencies. This can help music managers book their artists on tours, schedule interviews or television appearances and find platforms that want to feature their artists' music.

Related: How Musicians Make Money: With Duties and Average Salary

How to become a music manager

Here's how you can become a music manager:

1. Earn a bachelor's degree

Enroll in a bachelor's degree program at an accredited college or university. You might choose to major in music business or entertainment business to ensure you receive education in specialized subjects about the music industry. However, many aspiring music managers decide to major in a related field like business, marketing or economics, which can prepare you for the business side of music management by informing you about financial practices and effective management skills.

2. Build professional experience

Start earning professional experience by taking an entry-level job in the music industry. Many record labels and recording studios offer internships for college students and recent graduates, which provides the opportunity to gain hands-on experience in the field and learn from professionals. You might also work in places like radio stations, record stores and public relations firms to gain access to music industry events and determine which styles of music you enjoy working with.

Building professional experience as soon as you're able to can strengthen the foundation of your career as a music manager by giving you the necessary knowledge and skills to succeed in the field.

Related: How To Become a Studio Manager (With Salary and Job Outlook)

3. Make connections in the music industry

Meet industry professionals and music artists to add to your professional network. Because a music manager's job is primarily communicating with people and collaborating on how to support an artist's career, it can help to have a wide network of professionals who you can turn to. You can do this by establishing positive relationships with industry professionals you meet during your time interning or working an entry-level music industry job and maintaining those relationships so the people you meet remember you.

Making connections early can help to build a network of professionals who know they enjoy working with you that you can refer to when you're working as a music manager.

Related: How To Become a Band Manager in 6 Steps

4. Find artists to represent

Look for artists you want to represent. After determining which genres and styles you enjoy most, you can explore the artists within them to find people you want to work with or who might need a music manager. Many new music managers work with new or upcoming artists that they discover or meet through their industry connections. Having a network is also helpful here because you can ask the professionals you know for recommendations about artists they think you could work well with. By finding artists to represent, you can establish a client base and begin developing their careers.

5. Join an association

Apply to join a professional association or organization for music managers. While this step is optional, joining an association can enhance your career as a music manager by introducing you to more connections and highlighting your expertise in the industry. These associations typically provide chances for peer mentoring, seminars about industry developments and networking events that can lead to job opportunities. Here are some associations a music manager might join:

  • North American Performing Arts Managers and Agents (NAPAMA)

  • Music Business Association

  • International Music Managers Forum

  • American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers

  • Association of Independent Music Publishers (AIMP)

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What skills do music managers need?

Music managers require a wide skill set to support their clients efficiently. Because their job involves frequently communicating with the artists they represent and with other industry professionals, music managers should have exceptional interpersonal and communication skills to ensure they make the most of each interaction. A music manager also needs an extensive background knowledge of the music industry so they can access the people, tools and venues that can benefit their artists most.

One of the most important skills for a music manager to have is organizational skill, as music managers keep track of all aspects of an artist's career and might keep records of schedules, contacts and dates for music releases.

Related: Becoming a Music Promoter: Essential Steps

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