A&R and Manager Advice

How Music Managers Get Paid

How Music Managers Get Paid

The music industry is a vast, complex web of creators, promoters, and facilitators, each playing a pivotal role in bringing music from the artist’s imagination to the listener's ears. Among these critical players is the music manager, a figure often shrouded in mystery. Understanding how these professionals earn their living can offer valuable insights into the workings of the music industry. In this article, we will demystify how music managers get paid.

The Role of a Music Manager

What Does a Music Manager Do?

Music managers are essential behind-the-scenes game changers. They handle the business side of music, freeing artists to focus on creating. Responsibilities often include negotiating contracts, making marketing and promotional decisions, and building connections with recording companies and event organizers.

Why Are Music Managers Important?

Music Managers guide an artist's career, ensuring they make sound business decisions. They play an instrumental role in the artist's growth, influencing the trajectory of their career based on industry knowledge and connections.

How Music Managers Get Paid

Commission-based Pay

The most common form of payment for music managers is commission-based. They earn a percentage of the artist's earnings, which can range from 10-20% depending on their agreement. The advantage of this is that it aligns the interests of the manager with the artist; the more successful the artist, the more the manager earns.

Salaried Positions

In some instances, especially in large music corporations, managers may receive a fixed annual salary. They work to promote multiple artists and are compensated regardless of an individual artist’s revenue.

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Music Industry Insider 2024: The Ultimate Contact Handbook

Unlock the key to your music career. This game-changing resource puts over 3,000 of the most influential music industry contacts at your fingertips.

Connect directly with the top A&Rs, Music Managers, Producers, Record Labels & Booking Agents who can elevate your music to new heights. With all the content information you need, including email addresses and phone numbers. Don't just dream of success, make it a reality.

Embrace Music Industry Insider and open doors to limitless opportunities in your music journey.

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Per Project Basis

Sometimes, an artist might employ a manager for a specific project or time period. In these cases, the manager is paid an agreed-upon sum for the duration of the project.

How Music Managers Get Paid Example:

Consider a breakout pop star who made $1 million in a year through live performances, record sales, and merchandise. If their agreement with the manager stipulates a 15% commission, the manager would earn a significant $150,000 in that year. However, it's important to note that managing an artist involves costs, like travel and promotional spends. These expenses are generally paid for by the manager themselves, who then earns back through their commission.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a music manager?

A music manager is a professional who guides the professional career of artists in the music industry. Their responsibilities may include negotiating contracts, managing schedules, organizing promotional activities, and advising on artistic decisions to develop the artist's career and increase their income.

How do music managers earn their income?

Music managers typically earn their income through a commission-based structure where they receive a percentage (usually between 15-20%) of the artist's gross earnings from various areas such as record sales, live performances, licensing deals, and merchandise sales.

Is the commission rate for all music managers fixed?

No, the commission rate is not fixed and can vary depending on the manager's experience, the level of success of the artist, the services provided, and the specific agreement between the manager and the artist. Rates can range from 10% to 25% or more in some cases.

What happens if an artist is not making much money? How does the manager get paid then?

In cases where an artist is not generating substantial income, a manager may agree to a lower commission rate or work for a flat fee. Some managers also have a minimum monthly retainer to ensure they are compensated for their time and effort.

Do music managers get a cut from concert or tour earnings?

Yes, music managers typically receive a portion of the earnings from concerts and tours as part of their commission. This includes revenue from ticket sales, merchandise sold on tour, and any other related income.

What is a 'sunset clause' in a music management contract?

A 'sunset clause' in a music management contract is a provision that outlines the reduction of a manager's commission over time after the working relationship has ended. This is designed to compensate the manager for a period following their active involvement with the artist's career.

How do artists usually pay their managers?

Artists usually pay their managers through direct payments calculated as a percentage of their gross income. These payments are often made periodically, such as monthly or quarterly, based on the income earned by the artist during that time frame.

Are there situations where managers might work for a fixed fee instead of a commission?

Yes, there are situations where managers might work for a fixed fee, especially during the early stages of an artist's career when income is unpredictable, or when managing specific projects with pre-determined budgets.

Do music managers handle only the financial aspects of an artist's career?

No, music managers handle a variety of aspects beyond finances, including career development, branding, networking, day-to-day scheduling, and strategic planning. However, managing and maximizing the artist's revenue is a key part of their role.

Can an artist have more than one music manager?

Yes, an artist can have more than one music manager, especially if their career spans different regions or aspects of the industry, like a personal manager and a tour manager. However, roles and responsibilities should be clearly defined to avoid conflicts.

What should be included in a contract between an artist and a music manager?

A contract between an artist and a music manager should include terms regarding the duration of the partnership, commission rates, the scope of the manager's responsibilities, payment schedules, termination clauses, and any specific expectations regarding both parties.

Is it common for music managers to receive royalties from an artist's work?

It is not common for music managers to receive royalties from the sale of recorded music or publishing. Managers typically earn a commission on the artist's gross income, which may include revenue generated from royalties, but they do not usually receive royalties directly.

How does a new artist typically find a music manager?

New artists usually find music managers through networking, industry events, recommendations from fellow musicians, or by showcasing their talent publicly, which can attract potential managers with the right connections and vision for the artist's career development.

Can music managers help artists find record deals?

Yes, an important part of a music manager's role can be to help artists find record deals. They use their industry connections and experience to negotiate contracts and find suitable label partners that align with the artist's creative vision and career goals.

If an artist fires their manager, does the manager still get paid?

If an artist ends their relationship with a manager, the manager may still be entitled to receive commission for a period of time as outlined by any 'sunset clause' in their contract. The specific terms of continued payment would depend on the initial agreement made between the manager and the artist.

What if a music manager fails to deliver results? Are there protections for the artist?

Contracts between artists and managers usually contain performance clauses and may include specific expectations and benchmarks. If a music manager fails to deliver, the artist might be able to terminate the contract based on these terms. Legal counsel is advised to resolve such disputes.

Should an artist consult a lawyer before signing a management contract?

Yes, it is highly recommended that an artist consults a lawyer with expertise in the music industry before signing any management contract, to ensure that their rights are protected and to fully understand the terms and commitments being agreed to.

How long do music management contracts typically last?

Music management contracts can vary in length, typically ranging from one to five years. It is important for both parties to agree on a term that provides enough time for the manager to make a significant impact while still allowing for periodic review and renegotiation.

What happens if an artist is under contract with a manager but wants to self-manage?

If an artist wishes to self-manage while under contract with a manager, they would need to follow the terms outlined in their agreement regarding termination. They may owe the manager commission for a certain period after ending the relationship, based on any applicable 'sunset clause'.

Does a music manager get paid for merchandising deals as well?

Music managers usually get a commission on merchandising deals as well since this is considered part of the artist's gross income from which they are entitled to earn according to their management contract.

Are there any ethical standards that music managers must follow?

Music managers are expected to adhere to ethical standards in business practices, which include honesty, transparency, integrity, and putting the interest of their artists first. Many managers are part of professional organizations that set forth codes of conduct to maintain high industry standards.

Demystifying music manager payments shines a light on the critical interplay between creativity and the business elements of the music industry. Knowing this, artists can better pay attention to their contracts and agreements, while fans can have a newfound appreciation for the music they love. Want to continue exploring the music industry and maybe even try writing a song yourself? Our Lyric Assistant offers you the opportunity to craft the perfect unique song in minutes!

Music Industry Insider 2024: The Ultimate Contact Handbook

Unlock the key to your music career. This game-changing resource puts over 3,000 of the most influential music industry contacts at your fingertips.

Connect directly with the top A&Rs, Music Managers, Producers, Record Labels & Booking Agents who can elevate your music to new heights. With all the content information you need, including email addresses and phone numbers. Don't just dream of success, make it a reality.

Embrace Music Industry Insider and open doors to limitless opportunities in your music journey.

trustpilot 1

Music Industry Insider 2024: The Ultimate Contact Handbook

Unlock the key to your music career. This game-changing resource puts over 3,000 of the most influential music industry contacts at your fingertips.

Connect directly with the top A&Rs, Music Managers, Producers, Record Labels & Booking Agents who can elevate your music to new heights. With all the content information you need, including email addresses and phone numbers. Don't just dream of success, make it a reality.

Embrace Music Industry Insider and open doors to limitless opportunities in your music journey.

trustpilot 1

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About Toni Mercia

Toni Mercia is a Grammy award-winning songwriter and the founder of Lyric Assistant. With over 15 years of experience in the music industry, Toni has written hit songs for some of the biggest names in music. She has a passion for helping aspiring songwriters unlock their creativity and take their craft to the next level. Through Lyric Assistant, Toni has created a tool that empowers songwriters to make great lyrics and turn their musical dreams into reality.

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