The Role of Music Managers in an Artist’s Career

Learn how music managers can help bands and artists successfully grow their careers...


The music industry is a complex ecosystem, and one of the key components in navigating it can be the role of music managers.

These music industry professionals can act as the glue that holds an artist's career together, providing support, guidance, and expertise in various areas of the music business.

This article delves into the role of music managers, their duties, and how they can significantly impact an artist's career.  

If you're interested in getting to grips with different areas of the music industry, then check out our BA Music Business and Entrepreneurship programme. 

The History of Music Management 

Music management, just like the music industry, has evolved significantly over the years.

In the early days of the music industry, managers often played a more hands-on role, sometimes even acting as record producers and supporting artists with choosing songs to perform. 

As the industry has grown and become more complex, so too has the role of the manager. They have transitioned from simply overseeing an artist's career to actively shaping it, using their industry knowledge and connections to guide artists towards success.

Notable examples of early successful music managers include Brian Epstein, who managed The Beatles, and Colonel Tom Parker, who managed Elvis Presley. 


The Role of Music Managers in Different Music Genres 

The role of a music manager can vary greatly depending on the genre of music. For example, in pop music, a manager might be heavily involved in shaping an artist's image and marketing strategy.

In contrast, in genres like indie rock or folk, a manager might focus more on booking gigs and negotiating contracts, allowing the artist to maintain creative control.  

How Music Managers Support Artists  

Music managers are often the unsung heroes behind successful artists.

They work tirelessly behind the scenes, ensuring that the artists they represent can focus on their creativity and performance.

Managers handle the business aspects of an artist's career, including contract negotiations, booking gigs, and liaising with record labels."

They also play a crucial role in marketing and promoting the artist, helping to build their brand and increase visibility in the industry. Although it is worth artists getting to grips with understanding these areas of the music business too, it can also be beneficial to have a professional manager in place to offer insights and support.

The Challenges Faced by Music Managers 

Music managers face numerous challenges in their role. These can include negotiating fair contracts with music producers, securing lucrative gigs, and managing the expectations of artists. They also have to navigate the rapidly changing landscape of the music industry, which has been significantly impacted by the rise of digital technology and streaming services. 

The Importance of Management in Music Careers  

Management is an essential component of a successful music career.

A good manager can help an artist navigate the complexities of the music industry, from understanding contracts to building relationships with key industry players. They provide strategic guidance, helping artists make informed decisions about their career trajectory. Moreover, managers often act as a buffer between the artist and the business side of the industry, protecting the artist's interests and ensuring they are treated fairly.  

Duties of a Music Manager  

The duties of a music manager are varied and extensive. They include:  

Career Planning:  

Managers help artists define their career goals and develop a strategic plan to achieve them.  

Negotiating Contracts:  

Managers negotiate contracts on behalf of the artist, ensuring the terms are favourable and in the artist's best interests.  

Booking Gigs:  

Managers work with booking agents to secure live performances and tours for the artist.  

Marketing and Promotion:  

Managers oversee the marketing and promotion of the artist, including social media, press releases, and publicity campaigns.  

Financial Management:  

Managers often handle the financial aspects of an artist's career, including budgeting, financial planning, and ensuring the artist gets paid for their work.  

Finding the Right Music Manager for Your Career  

Finding the right manager is a critical step in an artist's career. The right manager should have a deep understanding of the music industry, strong business acumen, and a genuine passion for the artist's music. They should also have good connections in the industry, be trustworthy, and willing to advocate for the artist's interests.  

When looking for a manager, artists should consider the manager's track record, their communication style, and whether their vision aligns with the artist's career goals. It's also important to have a good personal rapport with the manager, as they will be working closely together.  

Example of a Music Manager in the Industry 

Scooter Braun and Justin Bieber 


Scooter Braun, a talent manager and entertainment executive, discovered musician Justin Bieber in 2007 when Bieber was just a young teenager posting videos of himself singing on YouTube. Braun was immediately struck by Bieber's raw talent and saw potential for him to become a major star. He reached out to Bieber's mother and convinced her to let him fly Bieber, who was then living in Canada, to Atlanta, Georgia, to record demo tapes. 

Once in Atlanta, Braun introduced Bieber to Usher, who was immediately impressed with the young singer's talent. This led to a bidding war between Usher and Justin Timberlake, who also wanted to sign Bieber. Ultimately, Usher's bid was successful, and Bieber was signed to Raymond Braun Media Group (RBMG), a joint venture between Braun and Usher, and then to a recording contract with Island Records offered by L.A. Reid. 

Braun played a crucial role in Bieber's early career, guiding his path to stardom and managing his rapid rise to fame. He helped shape Bieber's image, managed his relationships with record labels, and oversaw his marketing and promotion. Braun's strategic decisions, such as continuing to leverage YouTube to connect with fans, played a significant role in Bieber's success. 

Braun's management style with Bieber also demonstrated the importance of a personal connection between an artist's success and manager. Braun became a mentor and father figure to Bieber, providing guidance and support both professionally and personally. This close relationship allowed Braun to understand Bieber's vision and goals, enabling him to guide Bieber's career in a way that aligned with his personal values and aspirations. 

However, the relationship between Braun and Bieber also illustrates the challenges that can arise in artist-manager relationships. As Bieber began to struggle with the pressures of fame at a young age, Braun had to balance protecting Bieber's interests with meeting the demands of the music industry. Despite these challenges, Braun's management has been instrumental in Bieber's career, helping him navigate the complexities of the music industry and achieve global stardom. 

This case study underscores the significant impact a good manager can have on professional development and an artist's career. It highlights the importance of strategic guidance, industry knowledge, and a strong personal relationship in the artist-manager dynamic. 

Music Management Contracts Explained  

A music management contract is a legally binding agreement between the artist and the manager. It outlines the manager's duties, the duration of the agreement, and how the manager will be compensated. Most managers receive a percentage of the artist's gross income, typically between 15-30 percent.  

Before signing a management contract, artists should thoroughly review the terms and consider seeking legal advice. It's crucial to understand what you're agreeing to, as this contract can significantly impact your career.  

Music managers play a pivotal role in an artist's career. They provide invaluable support and guidance, helping artists navigate the complexities of the music industry and achieve their career goals. Whether you're an emerging artist or an established act, having a good manager by your side can be a game-changer for your music career.  

The Future of Music Management 

The future of music management is likely to be shaped by the continued rise of digital technology.

Managers will need to be adept at using social media and streaming platforms to promote their clients and artists and engage with fans. They will also need to navigate the complexities of digital music rights and royalties." 

How to Become a Music Manager 

Becoming a music manager typically requires a combination of industry knowledge, business acumen, and a range of interpersonal skills.

Many successful managers have a background in music or business and have built up a network of industry contacts. Aspiring managers can gain experience by interning at a record label or management company, or by managing local bands or artists. 

The Impact of Music Managers on Independent Artists vs. Signed Artists 

For independent artists, a manager can play a crucial role in helping them build their career from the ground up. They can assist with everything from booking gigs to touring, promoting their music and building a fan base. For artists signed to a record label, the manager's role can be more focused on liaising with the label and ensuring the artist's interests are represented.

Image: Complex Music 

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To completely immerse yourself in your music career, chat with our friendly Admissions Team via email or give them a call on 020 7328 0222.

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by ICMP staff writer
October 23, 2023
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