Music Management Salary and Career Facts

Explore the career requirements for music managers. Get the facts about the education requirements, job outlook and salary information to determine if this is the right career for you. Schools offering Music Business degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Does a Music Manager Do?

Music managers, also known as agents, oversee business-related issues for musical artists and/or bands. For example, they may book performances, negotiate recording contracts, draw up tour budgets and plan promotional campaigns. In addition, they look out for the artist's legal interests by protecting against copyright infringements. While some managers work in corporate settings, others offer independent services.

The table below provides detailed information for this career.

Degree Required No formal education required; bachelor's degree recommended
Education Field of Study Business law, public relations, business management, marketing
Training Required On-the-job experience, internship
Key Skills Versatility, flexibility, organization, communication, negotiation
Job Growth (2014-2024) 2.5%*
Median Salary (2015) $62,940*

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (for all agents and business managers of artists, performers and athletes)

What Is Music Management?

People in music management are referred to as agents or business managers, and what you do depends on which position you choose. As a personal manager, your primary responsibility would be to represent your client, whether an individual or a band of musicians, in contract negotiations. This might be for a recording contract or performance. You may also be involved in developing your clients' career strategies and providing creative direction.

Agents are responsible for the tasks of a personal manager, including booking and promoting performances, making the travel arrangements and managing the road crew when your client goes on tour. You may be responsible for hiring the appropriate people to handle these responsibilities and coordinating their work. As a business manager, you would attend to financial matters such as collecting royalties and preparing account statements.

What Skills do I Need?

As a music manager, you may handle a wide variety of tasks, so you need to be versatile and well-organized. Verbal and written communication skills are essential for negotiating contracts, promoting your clients and managing others. Sales skills could also be important. Helpful aptitudes include an eye for detail, creative problem-solving ability and attunement to trends in the music industry. Flexibility is often necessary, as you may work unstructured hours in unorganized settings.

How Do I Become an Agent?

There is no single path to becoming an agent or personal manager; however, most agents hold a bachelor's degree. Business management, marketing, public relations and business law would be the most useful for a career in music management. On-the-job experience is important in becoming an agent or business manager. You could obtain this experience through an internship with a booking agency, management company, or in music media, such as a radio station.

How Much Does an Agent Earn?

As a talent agent or personal manager, your earnings would be based on the success of your clients. Your earnings could be commissions based on sales of recordings and tickets when you negotiate the contracts. That said, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 2015 that the median annual wage for agents and business managers of artists, performers and athletes was $62,940. Many of these jobs are located in New York and California, and you could expect to earn more in those markets. However, if you manage an act that becomes highly successful, your earnings could rise into the hundreds of thousands.

What Are Some Related Alternative Careers?

Instead of becoming a music manager, you might also consider working as an agent for an athlete. In this position, you might negotiate salaries with coaches and recruiters from teams that the athlete is considering playing for, or you might set up endorsement deals with sponsors. This job usually requires a bachelor's degree. Alternatively, if you are passionate about music, you could consider becoming a musician yourself, either singing or playing an instrument. Although no formal education is required, you need to have excellent musical skills, so completing a postsecondary training program can improve your chances for professional success.

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