What does an artist manager do? (With skills and salary)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 25 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If working in the music industry interests you and you have good leadership skills, you may find a career as an artist manager rewarding. Artist managers help shape an artist's career by promoting their music and seeking multimedia opportunities. Learning what an artist manager does can help determine whether this career is suitable for you. In this article, we answer 'What does an artist manager do?', outline how much they earn and review the required skills for this role.

What does an artist manager do?

In answer to 'What does an artist manager do?', they're a professional adviser who represents a band or musician. They work on behalf of an artist to promote their career and handle their business affairs. Artist managers ensure that label executives and producers have access to the client's music and help secure them the best fees and contracts. They oversee various day-to-day duties that secure the long-term success of their clients' careers. An artist manager's general responsibilities include:

Overseeing marketing campaigns

Artist managers ensure that a client's public image aligns with current trends in pop culture. They make sure that the branding and marketing of the artists' music and merchandise are consistent across all platforms and with the client's image, thereby increasing brand awareness. An artist manager also handles various other marketing responsibilities, including liaising with public relations agencies and determining PR budgets for future campaigns or music releases. By serving as a go-between for the artist and public relations teams, artist managers ensure that campaigns follow the client's requirements.

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Facilitating all legal aspects

There are several contracts that artist managers read and negotiate when handling an artist. The most senior document they oversee is the distribution contract between the musician and the label or distribution company. This agreement allows distribution companies to sell the artists' music to shops. Other legal documents that artist managers negotiate include partnership contracts, sponsorship deals, artist management contracts, live event contracts and PR services. Artist managers are well-versed in music industry regulations and can understand legal jargon and how to navigate it. They may also appoint a legal professional for advice on dealing with legal matters.

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Overseeing merchandise sales

Merchandise sales are important for artists as it serves as a means of income throughout the whole year. Artist managers are responsible for contacting various merchandise providers and ordering stock for them from distribution companies. They make sure that there's always stock available for sale and promote sales marketing campaigns for new launches. An artist manager also ensures that the artist has a professional sales platform in place, such as their own personalised website where fans can discover their products.

Networking

Artist managers develop strong partnerships within the music industry. They draw on these professional connections to secure deals for the artist and learn about potential opportunities. Some professionals that artist managers liaise with include booking agencies, publishers, music lawyers, publishers, distributors and record labels. An artist manager may also forge connections with other artists to source collaborative opportunities or other clients. Additionally, they present their artists to delegates at music showcase conferences and promote their work.

Budgeting and money management

Some musical artists lack the time or business acumen to micromanage their finances. As an artist manager, you're responsible for managing an artist's finances and ensuring music production, tour and other expenses remain under budget. Some money management duties they perform include ensuring invoices are properly handled and paid, monitoring budgets and expenses and agreeing on fund allocation with artists and accountants.

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Nurturing creative development

Artist managers serve as a guide to musicians by helping them nurture their craft. They help them navigate musical and career decisions by providing input on industry and creative trends. This means that artist managers assist in the artistic production process by guiding artists as they write material.

Overseeing the recording behaviour

Artist managers get in touch with sound engineers and producers to understand their budget requirements and check their availability. When deciding on a studio venue, artist managers ensure that a reasonable timeline is in place and that artists have access to the studio for as long as necessary. They oversee recording sessions, making sure that the client takes regular breaks and rests their vocal cords between runs. Moreover, they provide advice from the soundbox and listen to the producers' recommendations.

Seeking multimedia opportunities

Artist managers who work with successful clients often help them branch out of the music industry and into other media sectors. For instance, some music stars may go on to appear in films or on TV shows or eventually host their own talk show. This helps music artists to diversify their brands and reach a larger target audience. An artist manager arranges contract agreements for these opportunities and ensures that the gig aligns with the artists' public image.

Negotiating contracts

Artist management involves advising clients on business decisions and negotiating contracts on their behalf. Artist managers have a financial stake in the success of their clients which acts as an incentive to secure the best possible deals for their artists. They meet with multiple distributors, labels, sponsors and other music professionals to determine which party is the most suitable for the artist.

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Promoting artists

To succeed in an ever-growing industry, music artists rely on good promotion and visibility. Artist managers network with professionals to ensure a client's music features in publications, on music websites and in television programmes to spread awareness of their brand. They coordinate promotion campaigns and align promotional activities with the music or merchandise launches.

Coordinating touring activities

Managers liaise with an artist's booking agent and record label to create touring schedules. They use their planning and budgeting skills to secure bookings in good venues and take care of equipment requirements. This foresight helps to ensure that tour events run smoothly and on schedule. They coordinate with booking agencies that handle specific territories when searching for standalone event opportunities in that country. Additionally, they notify booking professionals of the client's travel dates so that they can narrow their search. Artist managers also correspond with local promoters and sound engineers to guarantee the event's success.

Some other general responsibilities that artist managers oversee that relate to touring include booking slots for the musician, agreeing on load-in and soundcheck times, discussing the technical specification of the venue with light and sound engineers to optimise the performance and negotiating fees for accommodation, catering and other incentives. They work out the best way to promote touring activities and determine who's responsible for taking care of merchandise sales, whether it's the venue itself or a distribution representative.

How much does an artist manager earn?

The national average salary for an artist manager is £34,192 per year. An artist manager's actual salary may vary, depending on their geographical location, experience and the level of success that their clients achieve. Artist managers are responsible for determining their own contract terms with the clients they represent. Contract agreements usually stipulate that the artist manager takes a fixed percentage of the artist's gross revenue. This fixed percentage is usually around 15-30 percent.

Artist managers usually receive these fixed fees on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis. Some artist managers may ask for a net percentage contract. These agreements dictate that the talent manager receives a percentage of the client's earnings only after they start generating a profit. An artist manager may also receive a commission when handling more specialised artist activities, such as tour arrangements or merchandise sales.

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Required skills for an artist manager

Some essential artist manager skills include:

  • Communication: Artist managers liaise with music producers, record labels, PR teams, sponsors and other artists daily. Written and oral communication skills ensure that they effectively manage a client's business duties and make a good, professional impression on their behalf.

  • Leadership: Artist managers take full responsibility for their actions when dealing with sound engineers, distributors and other teams. They're confident individuals that can comfortably instruct other music professionals, delegate responsibilities and ensure that music-producing activities remain on schedule.

  • Marketing: Artist managers create, communicate and deliver campaign ideas to public relations teams to ensure that an artist's work is well-promoted. They understand the client's target audience and help foster an image that's in line with this audience.

  • Negotiation: Artist managers secure the best contract deals with sponsors, record labels and other music professionals on behalf of their clients. They review and consider all third party offers and bargain with them to come to a compromise where necessary.

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