A&R and Manager Advice

The Music Business for Artist Managers & Self

The Music Business for Artist Managers & Self

Imagine being able to manage an artist's musical journey, be it your own or others'. If you're in this role, you must have noticed that the music business landscape is vast and often confusing. Yet, it's crucial to understand to put your music out in the right way and get the recognition it deserves. Today, we will delve deep into the music business for artist managers and self-managed artists, offering valuable insights, strategies, and resources.

Understanding the Music Business

Any artist, manager, or self-managed artist must understand three fundamental aspects of the music business: Music, the Music Industry, and Fan engagement.


Music is the primary product that artists present to the world. Therefore, honing musical skills, defining the artistic style, and creating compelling content is imperative.

The Music Industry:

The industry is where the business happens. Navigating through record labels, publishing companies, entertainment law, and music licensing can be difficult. This understanding helps artists secure deals and ensures their rights are protected.

Fan Engagement:

The music business's success lies in translating music into a fan base that loves and supports the artist's work financially.

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Roles and Responsibilities Of An Artist Manager

Artist managers work as guides, advising and strategizing the direction of their client’s career. They deal with business-related aspects, freeing the artist to focus on their creative process.

Talent Development:

Possibly the most critical element of an artist manager's role is identifying and nurturing talent.

Business & Legal Affairs:

A well-versed manager is familiar with contracts and legal matters, ensuring that the artist's interests are safeguarded.


Managers connect with industry personnel and decision-makers, helping artists land opportunities.

Succeeding As A Self-Managed Artist

Although daunting, being a self-managed artist carries opportunities for greater creative control, faster growth, and higher revenue.

Improve Organizational skills:

Juggling creative responsibilities with business tasks requires solid organizational skills.

Focus on Fan Engagement:

Building a strong fanbase can drive success as a self-managed artist and offer more significant career control.

Continual Learning:

The music business is notoriously complex and self-managed artists must embrace a constant learning attitude.

The Music Business for Artist Managers & Self Example:

Imagine an artist, Jerry. As a self-managed artist, Jerry started by defining his music and style, creating engaging content regularly. He ventured into understanding the basics of the music industry, familiarizing himself with contracts and licensing. While mastering the business side, he never lost focus on engaging with his fans through social media, newsletters, and live concerts. Over time, Jerry saw a substantial increase in his fan base and revenue.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the role of an artist manager in the music business?

An artist manager is responsible for guiding the professional career of an artist in the music industry. This includes negotiating contracts, seeking out business opportunities, arranging bookings, and helping to strategize an artist's image, marketing, and promotional efforts. They act as a liaison between the artist and the industry players such as record labels, promoters, agents, and more.

Is it necessary for an artist to have a manager?

While not strictly necessary, having a manager can greatly benefit an artist, especially as they gain popularity and their career becomes more complex. Managers can handle the business side of music, allowing artists to focus more on creating and performing.

What should I look for in a manager?

You should look for a manager with experience, a solid network in the music industry, strong communication skills, and a comprehensive understanding of the business. It's also important to find someone who shares your vision and with whom you can build a strong, trust-based relationship.

Can an artist be successful without signing to a record label?

Yes, many artists build successful careers as independents using tools like social media, streaming platforms, and direct-to-fan sales. The key is to have a solid marketing strategy and to be proactive in reaching out to your audience.

What revenue streams are available for musicians?

Musicians can earn income from several sources, including album sales, streaming, live performances, merchandise, licensing deals, publishing royalties, and more. Diversifying income streams is important for financial sustainability in the music industry.

What is the difference between an exclusive and non-exclusive contract?

An exclusive contract means that the artist agrees to work solely with a particular entity, such as a label or a manager, typically for a specified period of time. A non-exclusive contract allows the artist to engage with multiple entities simultaneously.

How long do artist management contracts usually last?

Artist management contracts can vary, but they typically last between one to five years. Some contracts may include options for renewal that can extend the agreement.

Do all artist managers take a percentage of revenue?

Most artist managers work on a commission basis, taking a percentage of the artist's revenue, usually ranging from 10% to 20%. Some managers may also work for a flat fee, though this is less common.

How can I protect my music rights as an artist?

It is important to understand your rights and ensure they are protected by registering your works with performing rights organizations, setting up publishing administration, and creating clear contracts when collaborating with others.

How often should I release music to stay relevant?

There's no one-size-fits-all answer, but staying consistent is key. Consider your ability to produce quality music and your audience's expectations. Be strategic about your release schedule and use it to build momentum for your career.

What is music publishing and how does it impact an artist?

Music publishing involves the copyright of your compositions and songs. Publishers help promote and license your music, collect royalties, and can be an important partner in maximizing your income from music usage in various media.

Why is branding important for artists?

Branding helps define and communicate an artist's unique identity and message. It makes artists recognizable and allows them to connect emotionally with their audience, which can foster loyalty and differentiate them in a crowded marketplace.

How important is social media for an artist's career?

Social media is crucial for artists to build and maintain a connection with their audience, promote music and tours, and build a personal brand. It offers a direct line of communication with fans and is an effective marketing tool.

Should artists make merchandising a part of their strategy?

Yes, merchandising can be a significant source of income and a way for fans to support their favorite artists. It's also a marketing tool that can increase an artist's visibility.

What is the significance of touring in an artist's career?

Touring is critical for artists as it's a primary source of income and a way to expand their fan base, sell merchandise, and promote new music. It helps to solidify the artist's brand and gives fans the opportunity for a live music connection.

How can I grow my fanbase as an emerging artist?

Engage with your audience through social media, perform live shows, collaborate with other artists, and ensure your music is accessible on multiple platforms. Build your brand and stay consistent with your releases and interaction with fans.

Is crowd-funding a viable option for financing my music projects?

Crowd-funding can be a viable option if you have an engaged fan base willing to support your project financially. It also allows artists to maintain creative control and keep a larger share of their revenue.

How do royalties work in the music industry?

Royalties are payments artists receive when their music is sold, streamed, or licensed. They come in various forms, including mechanical royalties for reproductions, performance royalties from broadcasts, and sync royalties from music used in media.

How can I learn more about the music business?

Researching online resources, reading books on the music industry, attending music business workshops and conferences, and networking with industry professionals are great ways to learn more about the music business.

What are common mistakes made by new artist managers?

New artist managers may take on too many clients too soon, neglect to set clear and realistic goals, overlook the importance of networking, or fail to stay updated on industry trends and legal matters. It's important to build a strong foundation of industry knowledge and to prioritize the development of long-term strategies for your clients.

How should I respond to rejection from labels or industry professionals?

Rejection is a normal part of the music industry. Use it as an opportunity to seek constructive feedback, improve your craft, and continue to build relationships. Persistence, resilience, and learning from each experience are key to eventual success.

Becoming a successful artist manager or self-managed artist is no easy task. It requires passion, patience, persistence, and knowledge. By understanding the music business and leveraging resources at your disposal, you can navigate this tricky terrain. If you found value in this guide, share it with other artists and managers in your network and explore other useful guides on Lyric Assistant. And remember, every great artist had to start somewhere, so don't let your journey intimidate you. Start today, learn, grow, and you're ready to brave the world!

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Music Industry Insider 2024: The Ultimate Contact Database

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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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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