Although the best teams make it look easy, creating a finished record is a challenging and unruly affair. Enter the label manager, a high-level record label project manager who coordinates the activities of departments and individuals in order to guide a musical project all the way from the early planning stage into the marketplace. For each release, label managers create and implement an overarching schedule and budget. While the label's specialized employees focus in on their individual goals and tasks—creating the album's cover art, for example, or planning a press tour—the label manager's concern is always the big picture: creating a solid, economical product that represents the label well and releases on time.
Good label managers are organized, detail-oriented, diplomatic, and communicative.
Although project management is a common thread for all label managers, the day-to-day duties of the job differ greatly depending on the size of the label in question. Managers for small, independent labels might be directly involved in almost every aspect of the label's releases, including marketing, promotion, publicity, distribution, merchandising, licensing, social media management, tour planning, and more. On the other hand, managers at large record label companies delegate these tasks to employees in relevant departments, instead focusing their energy on broad project management and interdepartmental coordination. Major label managers might spend their time coordinating large marketing and promotional pushes, overseeing contract-signing and licensing negotiations, and weighing in on artist management and booking decisions.
Label Manager at a Glance
This is a senior position at a record label, often answering directly to the label executives. There are no particular educational requirements to work as a label manager, although significant project management experience within the record industry is a necessity. Most start out in entry-level positions in the marketing or A&R departments before working their way up to positions like production coordinator or product manager. Once they've successfully shipped a number of profitable records, label managers have three main options: begin climbing the executive ranks, take a similar position at a larger or more renowned label, or found and run their own record label.
Label managers are usually either promoted internally or hired through a conventional job search process. Postings may be found on websites like LinkedIn, Monster, Indeed, or Glassdoor.
- Project management
- Office administration
- Written and oral communication
- Event management (mainly, concert booking)
- Radio promotions
- Personnel management
The record industry is the setting, but at its core, this is a job about project management. Good label managers are organized, efficient, detail-oriented, diplomatic, and communicative. They're natural multitaskers, delegators, and supervisors who revel in making order out of chaos. Still, although the core of the job is managerial, label managers can't be afraid to get their hands dirty. It's a results-oriented profession, which occasionally means doing something that's not in the job description in order to keep the project on track.
Although this job takes place in an office setting, it isn't what one would call a typical office career. Every day is different for label managers, who work irregular hours based on the demands of the project and generally stay in constant motion. Tight deadlines are characteristic of the field.