How to Become a Great Music Manager

Band managers are part business guru, part music genius, and part babysitter

Toying with the idea of managing a band? Taking the business reins for a musician can be tons of fun, but it can also be a demanding job that requires juggling lots of different tasks at once. Put simply; the band manager is kind of like the band's shepherd.

The archetypal example of a band manager was Brian Epstein, who discovered a little Liverpool band back in 1961 called The Beatles. He believed in their talent and potential from the get-go and helped steer them to international success. 

A modern-day band manager will wear many hats. Usually, he or she will be working on both the creative direction and business side of the band. In some cases, a band will be assigned a manager by a record label, other times a manager works directly for the band. Depending on the size of the manager's operation (does he/she have staff, etc.), the manager may be handling more than one client at a time. But some prefer to work with just one band. 

What kind of band manager do you want to be? Here are a few skills you should have and develop if you want to manage a band:

1
People Skills

The 58th GRAMMY Awards - GRAMMY Pre-Telecast
Mike Windle / Staff

Particularly, in the beginning, band management requires a lot of cold calling and pitching for opportunities. You'll have to network, be willing to be persistent when people don't return your calls and generally be comfortable with approaching new people. As a manager, you'll have to do a bit of business hustling, so if the thought of calling a promoter again and again and again until they finally hear you out doesn't appeal, management may not be your best fit. More

2
Being the Responsible One

KISS In Detroit Hotel Room
Credit: Waring Abbott / Contributor/ GettyImages

As a manager, you're going to be present for some pretty fun times - including some pretty fun times that can last well into when work is supposed to be going on. It's your job always to make sure the work gets done, even if the band is having a wild old time.

You need to make sure everyone is up when they need to be, at interviews, shows, soundchecks, load-ins and everything else when they need to be, and you need to make sure that the band gets on the bus when they need to. In other words, someone has to be the grownup. You've got to be prepared to stand your ground and not overindulge. 

As fun as it may seem, every backstage gathering and afterparty is worked for you, so keep in mind that you're on the clock.

3
Music Industry Knowledge

Russell Simmons of Def Jam Recordings
Russell Simmons. Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Now, you don't have to feel like you know every in and out of the music industry to manage a band and some of the greatest band managers completely learned the business on the fly. But you should go in with enough knowledge about the music business to know which opportunities to pursue for your artist.

Understand the basics, like what a label is and does, what an agent is and does, what promoters do, what PR companies do, and so on Be active in reading about the industry and staying up on trends, and never shy away from asking for explanations, help or advice when needed. Take the time to learn the basics before you take on a band, and from there you'll learn the ropes in no time.

4
Multi-Tasking

young man in front of laptop making serious phone call
Hero Images/Getty Images

Most jobs require a bit of juggling, but band management is in a league of its own. This is especially true when you're working with a band that is in the early stages of its career and doesn't have a team in place. Once there is an agent handling booking, a label or distributor handling sales, a PR company handling press and radio and so on, you'll be in the position of making sure everyone is communicating and doing their jobs. Before that, you'll be trying to assemble the team while doing all of their jobs yourself. It's hectic, and you can't let any one thing fall by the wayside for too long. 

5
Being Neutral

Young band recording in studio
Zero Creatives/GettyImages

Bands have disagreements. As their manager, you can't get caught in the middle, even if you have a closer relationship with some members than you do with others. You need maintain a position where everyone in the band feels like they can come to you with concerns and ideas and that you'll hear them out. If you play favorites, then you'll lose the confidence of some of the artists in the group, which will cause problems within the band and with your business relationship with them.

You'll need to keep personal feelings at bay and to distance yourself from the internal political stuff than can sometimes happen in a band.