Saturday, September 11

Do You Have A Starting Five?(Management)

Having the right management team in place to manage your career can be the difference between making a living in the music business and working at the local fast food joint. A well established artist’s management team is usually made up of their manager, business manager, attorney, booking agent and tour manager. The challenge is that it can quite difficult to find experienced management that will be interested in working with you when you aren’t making money and once you start making money they will be lined up at your door. In the beginning stages of a music career it’s typically the managers that pick you instead of you picking the managers. The best way to get noticed by management if you are not on a label is to build a following through relentless promotion and playing shows whenever possible. It’s more important to find management that is experienced in the music business than it is for them to simply believe in your abilities. Before hiring anyone on your management team be sure to ask around the music community about their reputation and experience.


An artist’s manager is the person most responsible for managing their career. They are involved in virtually every aspect of the artist’s career including negotiating with record labels and publishing companies on your behalf, lining up the right studio, engineers and producers for a recording session. They will make sure your website is constantly updated and that your label and distributor have your material in retailers and the latest and greatest digital music outlets. A good manager will spend a great deal of their time promoting the artists they represent and work directly with the artist’s publicists to coordinate their publicity plan. They work with the marketing departments at the artist’s label and distributor on their marketing and advertising budgets and programs. Managers should handle all the artist’s personnel issues with the band and crew members and work with the rest of their management team including the attorney, booking agent, business manager and tour manager as needed.

Managers usually get paid 15% to 20% of the artist’s gross earnings. That means they get paid their percentage on all the artist’s earnings including, royalties, publishing, touring and merchandise sales before the artist gets paid. Some managers have multi-year contracts (that can be quite complicated) with the artists they represent and some just work on a handshake.


It is hard to overstate the importance of attorneys in the music business given the complexities of recording contracts and the various other agreements artists are asked to sign. The most important thing to look for in an attorney to represent you is experience in the music business. Just because someone has a law degree (even from a top school) does not qualify him or her to represent you in the music business.

A good attorney with experience in the music business can keep you from making contractual mistakes they have seen that have happen to other artists. Attorneys usually charge by the hour or by retainer (a set monthly fee) and in the music business it’s fairly common for them to charge a percentage of the artist’s gross earnings, 5% is typical.

Business Manager

A business manager is the person or firm that collects monies owned to the artist from royalties, publishing, touring and merchandise sales, pays the bills, band and crew, invests the profits and files the tax returns. They handle the artist’s general accounting related needs, royalty collection & auditing and tour budgeting & reporting. Many good business managers are either CPA’s themselves or employ CPA’s on their staff due to the complexities of the music business accounting and the challenges of dealing with multiple state and international tax jurisdictions that come into play when an artist is on tour. They also handle all financial aspects of the artist’s personal life including insurance, loans, mortgages, investments and estate planning.

Business managers typically charge 5% of the artists gross earnings in the music business, but some an hourly rate or flat monthly fee.

Booking Agent

Booking Agents play an important role in the success of the artists they represent by planning and booking their tours with promoters and venues. They will make sure you are playing in venues that are known for your genre of music or booked as an opening act for a bigger band. Booking agents negotiate the fee structure (guarantee, % of the door, meals, etc.), determine ticket prices and ticket availability in the market. Thoughtful route planning is critical to the financial success of a tour and a good booking agent should make sure you are not playing in Atlanta one night, Chicago the following night and Jacksonville the next. Route planning can be a challenge for even a seasoned booking agent due to the large number of competing tours and the limited availability of quality venues in highly desirable markets.

Booking agents typically collect a 50% deposit on the show guarantee from the promoter once the show is booked. They usually charge 10% of the money the band gets paid for the show for their services. For example if the booking agent negotiates a $2000 guarantee for a show, they would collect a $1000 deposit, keep $200 (10% of $2000) then send the band $800. The band or their manager / road manager would collect the balance ($1000 in this example) from the venue after the show.

Tour Manager

The Tour Manager handles all the details of life on the road for the artist during a tour. They will arrange transportation, hotels and meals for each stop, make sure the equipment is accounted for and maintained plus manage the crew. The tour manager makes sure the venue has the stage, sound and lighting set up as requested and that the band is paid per the terms arranged with the booking agent . They manage and safeguard the cash collected while on the road. The Tour Manager will work with the tour publicist to make sure the artist shows up on time for scheduled interviews, appearances and promotions in each market. It’s the tour manager who puts out all the inevitable fires that come up at each stop during the tour.

The tour manager is also responsible for maintaining the tour plan and budget set up by the manager, business manager and booking agent. They are typically paid a salary, per diem or a set amount per tour.


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