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Even though management is a highly challenging role that requires a ton of knowledge and smarts in certain areas, there is essentially zero prerequisite or any kind of direct path that will lead you to becoming an artist manager. This is because artists get the liberty of choosing who they want to represent them. The reality is, if you have zero music business experience, you can still become an artist manager right now if an artist chooses you and you accept (or vice versa).
Every single manager started at the bottom. Everyone in the music business had to start somewhere, with zero knowledge. And every manager has taken a different path to become one. Honestly, a lot of the managers that I know personally would tell you that they accidentally became managers.
When I started as a manager, it seemed like I was the only one in my circle that purposefully became one! I’d actually love it if you commented below and let me know if you are currently actively trying to become a manager, or if you’ve already accidentally just landed in it.
Ok so, HOW exactly do you become an artist manager?
It comes down to these two scenarios.
You can either:
- get a job at an artist management company
- find an artist to manage
Now some of you may be thinking that is so ridiculously obvious, but I’m going to dive deeper… just give me a hot minute to explain.
Getting a job at a management company
In terms of getting a job at an artist management company, a lot of successful full-time managers are only managing one or two active artists, and don’t have a company that hires staff. A lot of them are so independent that they don’t even have a company at all. It’s just them, managing their artist with no company registered, and with external team such as agents, labels, and publicists.
When it comes down to it, there really aren’t that many major management companies to just apply to and get a job at. And if you’ve been in the industry for a while, I’m sure you’re aware that it’s rare to see these kinds of job postings. Nonetheless, they do exist. A lot of the time the companies that do hire people are larger companies that may have several managers working under the main company umbrella and a full internal team that helps all artists & managers on the roster. Often, these companies don’t post job postings. Instead they ask people they know to recommend new hires.
If getting a job at a management company is a goal of yours, the best thing you can do is consistently increase your network of colleagues in the music business and TELL your colleagues that you are looking to work at a management company. I can’t tell you how many times I was recommended for jobs simply because I TOLD my colleagues what I was looking for. Other than that, keep an eye on all the job boards that you can find, in case one ever shows up publicly. You may just be searching for a long time, but if that’s what you want, start the search.
Here’s a personal example…
After being an off and on again independent manager for 4 years with some pretty good success, I decided I wanted to work at a management company. From the moment that I declared that out loud and wrote it down in my goals journal, it was almost exactly 1 year later that I saw a job come up on a public job board for a “junior artist manager” position at a company that worked with GRAMMY and JUNO winning artists, some of which I was already a fan of.
As you can imagine, I was thrilled. I applied for the job and started literally a week later. Here’s the most important part: I not only had prior experience, but I also knew the owner of the company. He happened to be one of my early mentors in the industry. Now, this isn’t the story where I was recommended… I still had to apply to the job, but I can guarantee it helped that I already knew them. Moral of the story is get out there and meet people, and have patience.
Finding an artist to manage
As I mentioned, the second way to become a manager is to find an artist to manage yourself and become an independent manager.
Well, how do you do that?
Honestly, a lot of managers got started because they already knew an artist that needed help. Either a close friend or family member who needed a manager. Often they had no former management experience, nor music business experience. The artist simply trusted this person enough to stand by them no matter what, and they figured it out together.
Alternatively, a lot of managers become managers because they already work in the music industry in a different capacity — maybe as a publicist, or at a record label — and were either asked by an artist they met, or they reached out to an artist they liked, or another colleague connected them and suggested they work together. And the artist chose them because of their pre-existing experience.
Nonetheless, mutual trust and passion for the artist will help you get your foot in the door, and skills, intelligence, and experience will keep you there.
Now, on that note, you may remember that I mentioned earlier that you essentially need zero experience or education to become an artist manager. This is true, however you’ll move much faster ahead if you work hard to educate yourself and get experience first (especially if you have no connections yet). Watching our YouTube videos and reading our blog is a great place to start. But even if you pick one area of the music business to get experience in, whether at a venue, in promotions, touring, or even at a non-profit music association, that will open up many more doors for you in the management world too.
If you liked this training, please comment below with your thoughts and questions. Remember to check out your free downloads, subscribe on YouTube, share this with your music friends, and thank you for reading!