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What does an artist manager do?

What does a project manager do?

In this post I want to talk a little bit about what does an artist manager do, and how can these people help artists. I knew in advance they were important for an artist career, and they could make great things happen, but I had no much idea of which type of job did they do. I hope with this post, and this section of the blog, this becomes clearer for everybody!

Why did I end up becoming an artist manager?

It was two years ago, in summer of 2019, when I decided I was going to shift my career to music. The first thing I did was evaluating different options to build up my skills on this line. After some research I decided I was going back to school and start new studies at Berklee. My first choice was signing up to a 1 year study program in order to get a proper specialization. I knew I wanted to become a person able to help artists on the business side of things, so I decided to take a Music Business course. Browsing across the different course options, I was bearing in mind that I wanted to work directly with artists. Along the browsing I could find courses like “Music Business”, “Music Finances”, “Entrepreneurship”…

After a while reading through I found it: Professional Certificate in Artist Management, and I automatically knew it was going to be my take. It was the only program that had the word “Artist” on a first place. By then, though, I still had no idea of what did Artist Managers do, their job duties or how could they help artists.

It took me 1 full year to finish my certification in Artist Management, from January to December 2021. Covid in between. During the course I studied “Trends and Strategies in Music Business”, “Music Marketing”, “Touring”, “Licensing”, etc. I also took some complementary music business subjects. Among all what I studied, the subject that helped me the best was “Artist Management”.

Artist Management = Music Project Management = Business Management

The entire subject went parallel to the reading of a pure “Business Management” book, titled “Good to Great”. In this book, the authors analyze the factors that made certain companies become amazing over similar ones that couldn’t quite make it. These companies had nothing to do with music, so at first it was confusing to be exposed to them. I studied cases such as Gillette, General Electric or Merck.

Picture of the Cover of the book "Good to Great" by Jim Collins, the co-author of another related book titled "Build to Last".

Along the semester, I started to understand why a Business Management book was so relevant for the job of an Artist Manager. Music is an art, it was born to be shared altruistically, to bring people together. There’s a sort of taboo on relating songwriting and music to money and business. Nonetheless, when an artist decides that he/she wants to give his/her entire life to music, they inevitable need to start thinking about how to make of their passion a professional activity able to pay the bills. The artists themselves become a business, either they want it or not.

For these reasons, artists that go this path need to start worrying about their business. They become entrepreneurs of their musical projects.

Artists that decide to make of music their life, become entrepreneurs of their musical projects.

KiMi’s Music Dream

So, what does an artist manager do?

Having said this, the truth is that artists’ main duty is creating amazing music and sharing it with the world. And that is a big job. The artists themselves might have no choice but doing the business side when they are starting. Nonetheless, as the career grows this becomes complicated, because both the music and the business side become more and more demanding. In those moments, getting help from another person to keep the “business” on track can make a huge difference on the artist’s career. The music and fans can get a 100% of the artist, and they can rest assured nothing is going to get forgotten on the business side.

A lot of artist managers start a management career just trying to help out the artists they love in whatever they can. After a time working on that, they start learning well how the “business” goes, and start to become more and more efficient. In other cases, artist managers decided to study the music industry in further detail, in order to serve better the artists they work with. At the beginning, when the artist team is still reduced, the manager, together with the artist, wears many hats, for example:

  • Managing artists agenda with press, studio time, tours, etc.
  • Selecting and reaching out press and venues or the artist´s behalf.
  • Finding publicity opportunities for the artist.
  • Working together with booking agents.
  • Ordering and handling the artists merchandise.
  • Keeping the social media and artist´s website up to date.
  • Creating and coordinating the street team.
  • etc…

Nonetheless, even though these activities are actually assisted by the artist managers in many cases, the main job of a manager is deeper than this, and it often gets ignored or forgotten by both the artists and the managers.

The main role of an artist manager is helping out planning and building up each artist’s UNIQUE career path

There are a lot of individual, crucial tasks to do when working on an artist’s career. But what artists managers really need to do is understanding the values and vision that artists have in mind for their careers, and establishing a plan to reach those objectives. They are in charge of taking the artists from where they are in a the given moment, to where they wants to be, and keeping that plan on track.

This is normally done by what is called “Gap Analysis”. In these sort of analysis, you evaluate the current situation of an artist, and how far that is from whichever place the artist wants to be. You have to split that path in little, reasonable and reachable steps, on a timely manner. And with that, you start focusing the efforts on accomplishing each step. If the plan is well done, you can be sure that, by accomplishing those steps you will eventually find yourself on that final objective.

It is important to bear in mind, that, just as it happens in business, the director of the company, the one that takes the final decisions, is always the artist. The manager simply works to ensure that all the efforts than the artist and the artist’s team are doing, are working together towards that vision, and according to the plan. For being able to do that, both artist and manager have to trust each other, and work together as a synchronized team. In case of disagreement, they need to discuss each other’s arguments and come together to a consensus.

Final remarks about artist managers (and much more to come!!)

I hope this post served as an overview of the main idea to have about the artist managers. There are many other things to explain about them, such as how do the management agreements look like, or how to evaluate if a particular person might be or no a great manager. We’ll be learning about these topics along different posts and live lessons, that you are invited to join. If you liked this, remember to subscribe to KiMi’S Newsletter to keep up to date on new publications and activities! (you can do it on the bottom of this page!)

I love the figure of artist managers. I love the idea of establishing a tailored plan for a particular objective. The most exciting thing about the artist-manager relationship is that it can make an amazing connection between the artist and the manager. Growing together in your career with someone you love and admire feels amazing. This, is actually one of the reasons why I’ve called my project KiMi’S Music Dream. Let me know if you need a hand with your projects. I would be super happy to use my skills for that aim. That’s why I started to study this in a first place, and the reason why I changed my career!

Take care and talk soon,

KiMi

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