Careers in Music Business/Management
Artist Manager (or Personal Manager, Agent)
Personal artist managers represent one or more groups or artists and oversee all aspects of an act’s career. The artist manager deals with and advises the act(s) on all business decisions, and may offer insights on the creative decisions an artist must make as well in attempting to help guide the artist(s) to their career goals.
An entrepreneur organizes, operates, and assumes the risks related to a business venture. In the field of music, common businesses launched by entrepreneurs included recording studios, private teaching practices, performing general business bands, booking agencies, artist management agencies, music retailers, music publishing companies, and record labels, among others. Entrepreneurs often exhibit interest in new technologies, market trends, and investment opportunities in order to pursue a vision that will lead to starting a company with a well-defined specialization.
Booking Agent (or Talent Agent)
A booking agent finds work for creative professionals within the entertainment industry. Booking agents may schedule appearances by musicians, actors, dancers, filmmakers, writers, speakers, and more. In the musical context, a booking agent may schedule live performances for clients in clubs, arenas, festivals, church buildings, and so on. To do so, they must network with venue operators, music promoters, and other bookers. The booking agent handles all financial matters in connection with the performance date and coordinates all matters related to production and logistics. Often, booking agents are also involved with promotion of the events that they book. Booking agents must be highly organized and motivated, and must possess excellent communication skills. In addition, booking agents need computer skills to maintain databases of contacts and venue information. Successful booking agents understand tour scheduling and often double as talent scouts who are able to recognize rising potential.
The concert promoter presents, organizes, advertises, and in many cases, finances concerts at performance venues such as arenas, festivals, clubs, church buildings, auditoriums, etc. The promoter often secures money for the concert by finding others to share in the profits/expenses. However, it is often times the concert promoter who absorbs all the financial risk.
Independent Radio Promoter
The independent radio promoter (IRP) has a similar role as that of a promotional staffer at a record label, except the IRP is usually employed by an independent radio promotions company or works freelance. Often, a record label, artist/band, or manager will hire the services of an independent radio promotions company to generate airplay of a particular song or record. The IRP contacts radio station program directors, music directors, and disc jockeys in a local, regional, national, or even an international market. They set up appointments with these station people and bring a number of new album releases as well as a supply of promotional or press material relating to the artist or band. An IRP may socialize frequently with program directors and music directors to help improve the chances that a radio station will add a song to its playlist. An IRP often will often take key radio station personnel out to lunch, dinner, or for drinks. They may also bring a program director to a club in order to listen to a group play songs live and gauge audience response.
Retail Sales Management
A retail sales manager works, runs, and operates a retail music store. Duties would include employee supervision, training, ordering, coordinating the timing and arrival of distribution shipments to the store, budgeting and financial planning, and coordinating sales promotions for specific CDs.
An entertainment attorney handles any contractual matters conceivable within the entertainment industry. Entertainment attorneys can be freelance, hired on retainer, or an employee of a company or business within the entertainment industry. Entertainment attorneys generally specialize in one of three separate fields within the entertainment industry: sports, film and television, and music. An attorney that specializes in the music industry usually has a solid depth of understanding with regard to copyright laws and artist/band agreements with managers, publishers, record labels, booking agents, etc. Successful completion of law school and a state bar exam are requisites for being an entertainment attorney, as well.
“Ask questions. They can turn into valuable conversations.”
- Matthew Santiago
The business manager handles the financial affairs of musicians and entertainers. Most have degrees in business administration with concentrations in accounting or management. The business manager should have knowledge of negotiating, accounting skills, investments, and tax laws.
Music Supervisor (Music Licensing/Clearance)
A music supervisor is in charge of music that accompanies a visual media project such as a film, TV show, video game, or commercial. A music supervisor may act as an A&R scout to find and license popular songs for inclusion as theme or background music and may select songs for the soundtrack. A music supervisor’s role may be limited to soundtrack music, or they may be in charge of all music for the project, including hiring and supervising a composer for dramatic scoring. A music supervisor must possess knowledge of copyright, licensing, negotiation skills, and budget management as well as a deep knowledge of music and visual media so as to pair the two together in a way that produces the intended impact.
Music Business Consultant
In the music industry, consultants advise their clients—be they artists, entrepreneurs, or other music industry professionals—on business strategy for their career or organization. Music business consultants must possess a deep understanding of business, law, music, and industry trends in order to provide solid advice with confidence. Successful consultants demonstrate excellent skills in listening, qualitative and quantitative research, and communication, including public speaking and the development of written and/or visual reports.
A contractor is responsible for hiring musicians or road crew staff and tending to all the necessary contract obligations through the appropriate union organizations. It is in the contractor's best interest to procure the best talent possible while working within given budget guidelines.
Record Company Executive
This person would usually be employed at a record label and be a director, vice president, or president of any of the various departments or areas therein.
A record label manager oversees one or several departments at a record label and is responsible for the overall operation of the label, including budget management, production, A&R, marketing, scheduling, licensing, and more. The label manager gives the record label direction and purpose and serves as the team leader, often making the final call in the decision-making process. A label manager should generally possess significant experience within the music industry prior to attaining this role. In addition, a label manager must demonstrate excellent communication skills, project and time management, a solid understanding of the technical side of the recording process, and exemplary interpersonal skills.
A&R Representative/A&R Coordinator
The artist & repertoire (A&R) representative is responsible for finding and signing new music talent and the artistic development of that talent. They may act as A&R manager for an artist or group, or, if they oversee an A&R department, they may be responsible for budget management as well as hiring and managing staff such as A&R coordinators and others. A&R representatives oversee an artist or group’s recording process and help to determine single(s) for release. In addition to understanding how music works, such as how albums are recorded, produced, and marketed, an A&R representative must possess a thorough understanding of music in general and an in-depth knowledge of the contemporary music scene.
The artist & repertoire administrator works in the Artist & Repertoire Department along with the A&R coordinator. In large companies, the A&R administrators are responsible for clerical functions within the department, planning budgets for artists signed to the label, and working on the annual or semiannual budget for all artists' expenditures. They must analyze previous budgets and prepare a budget proposal with projected cost estimates for recording current acts. They also monitor the budget in relation to the expenses throughout the year. Staying within a budget means that the A&R administrator is doing his or her job. The individual might work exclusively with one or two studios in order to build up a great volume of studio time. With this volume, the A&R administrator can often receive discounts on time. They also keep track of all money spent for recording studio time, session musicians, talent, and miscellaneous expenses.
Director of Publicity (or Public Relations Director)
The director of publicity supervises the record label publicity department and develops and oversees publicity campaigns. As director, this person oversees all the work that is performed by the staff of the department.
Publicist (or Press Agent)
A publicist handles the publicity and press needs of creative professionals. In the music industry, publicists help artists or groups signed to a label produce income by frequently getting the artist or group featured in desirable popular press outlets (print, TV, radio, etc.). Typically, this occurs through a process of writing press releases, sending them to applicable media, talking to media about the artist or group, sharing relevant materials such as copies of new albums, and arranging interviews. Publicists often work in conjunction with A&R and marketing/promotion departments to draw attention to an upcoming booking or to make arrangements for a press party.
Assists the publicist in areas such as compiling press kits, writing press releases, and double-checking information for accuracy.
Artist Relations Representative (Artist Development Representative)
The artist relations representative's responsibility is to represent the label's interest to the artist/band and the artist/band's interest to the label, and maintain proper communication, cooperation, and mutual understanding between the two entities. This person's job is to make the artist feel appreciated by the label by thoughtful gestures such as buying flowers; writing letters; and arranging promotional appointments that coincide with a new tour, album release, or career milestone such as having a certified gold or platinum album. If there is a problem or concern that the label or artist have with the each other, the artist relations representative will seek to mediate the situation. The artist relations representative may also advise the artist on creative/performance-related issues, as well.
The prime function of the promotional staffer is contacting radio station program directors to generate airplay for the label's records. Promotional staffers will work closely with program directors, music directors, and disc jockeys in these markets. They set up appointments with these station people and bring a number of the label's new album releases, as well as a supply of promotional or press material relating to the artist or band. A promotional staffer may socialize frequently with program directors and music directors to help improve the chances that a radio station will add a song to its playlist. Promotional staffers often take key radio station personnel out to lunch, dinner, or for drinks. They may also bring a program director to a club in order to listen to a group play songs live and gauge audience response.
Advertising Account Manager (or Advertising Executive)
An advertising account manager develops advertising campaigns. If part of a larger firm, the advertising account manager typically serves as the point of contact between the client and the firm. An advertising account manager must possess knowledge of the field in which they work; for instance, an advertising account manager who handles a record label’s products should have a strong knowledge of music history. An advertising account manager should be creative and aggressive in pursuit of goals and should hold excellent sales skills and a working knowledge of marketing theory, including ways in which to leverage social media platforms to achieve desirable results.
Salesperson (Record Label)
A record label salesperson establishes a relationship with various accounts to sell the company's products and provide continuing service to the accounts. Accounts may include retail stores, rack jobbers, and one-stops.
Regional Sales Manager
The regional sales manager is responsible for supervising the sale of the label's records to wholesalers and/or retail outlets in a specific region, creating sales campaigns and policies, and overseeing sales staff.
Marketing managers are responsible for developing new marketing concepts, strategies, and plans, and working closely with the creative department on related text, images, video, and other content. The marketing manager typically presents results to an organization’s executives in order to align external messaging with the organization’s short-term and long-term goals. A marketing manager should hold a degree in marketing and/or several years of experience in marketing across multiple platforms, such as social, print, and audiovisual media. Marketing managers must possess excellent interpersonal skills and a keen understanding of branding, public opinion, communication, research, and networking.
Field Merchandiser (or Merchandiser)
The field merchandiser is in charge of distributing and explaining merchandising promotions to record stores/departments in specific markets.
A consumer researcher researches and analyzes consumer-buying practices for the record company. This person should have knowledge of research and analytical methods, the ability to write reports, and knowledge of the music business and record industry.
College Representative (or Campus Representative)
College representatives are responsible for promoting a record label's products to students on campus or perhaps to music retailers. They are students working toward a degree who have an interest and/or skill in the music industry, and often are a music business major in college.
A fundraiser is responsible for generating and/or maintaining the funding of an organization, often a nonprofit organization or a startup business. The fundraiser is expected to secure and maintain relationships with former and current investors or donors, as well as to reach out to build relationships with new investors or donors. Fundraisers must possess outgoing personalities and must be able to identify and effectively communicate opportunities that are likely to be of interest to potential investors or donors.
Music publishers are responsible for acquiring the copyrights to songs and publishing them. At large music publishing companies, they may perform one or two specific duties, or they may fulfill a variety of functions at a relatively small firm. Many individuals in music publishing or songwriting become independent music publishers, running their own music-publishing firm. The goal of the music publisher is to find and acquire potential hit songs (copyrights) and songwriters, promote them for financial gain, and serve as copyright administrator such that they ensure efficient tracking, licensing, and payment collection. Music publishers should possess knowledge of all facets of the music business, an understanding of music industry dynamics, an ear for hit tunes, knowledge of copyrights laws, and contacts in the music business.
The tour coordinator is responsible for coordinating the many facets of an act's tour, including travel, lodging, arranging for services, and budgeting for expenses.
Road managers handle the problems that occur while an act is traveling. They supervise equipment, sound, and lighting personnel.
The tour publicist is responsible for publicizing an act's tour to both fans and the media through press releases, press conferences, and special promotions.
The advance person is responsible for arriving ahead of the act to prepare for a concert and assisting the tour coordinator or road manager with details prior to the show.
Sound technicians are responsible for high-quality sound during the live performance. They usually arrive at the concert site before the performers and are involved in unloading and setting up the equipment and instruments along with the road crew. The sound technician supervises the placement of equipment and works with the talent during the sound check to achieve the best sound. They may even work a soundboard during the actual performance.