Musical Arts Manager Careers: Salary Info & Job Description

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What are the advantages and disadvantages of a musical arts manager career? Get real job descriptions, career outlook information and salary statistics to determine if a career as a musical arts manager is right for you.
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The Pros and Cons of a Musical Arts Manager Career

Musical arts managers combine knowledge of music with business and administrative skills. Find out more about the pros and cons of a career in musical arts management to make an informed career decision.

Pros of a Musical Arts Manager Career
Potential for high wages (median annual salary $64,200 for agents and business managers of artists, performers and athletes as of May 2014)*
Exciting and constantly evolving industry**
Some flexibility in terms of job location**
Fair level of autonomy**

Cons of a Musical Arts Manager Career
High-stress situations likely**
Mediocre job growth (7% - 13% from 2012-2022)*
Contentious negotiations may be necessary**
Possibility of competition from other managers**

Sources: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, **O*NET OnLine

Essential Career Information

Job Description

The duties and responsibilities of musical arts managers can vary widely depending on where they find employment. Many professional managers not only guide the careers of artists but also assume control of event planning and marketing. Those employed by record labels may be responsible for bringing in new artists, setting contract terms and overseeing artist progression.

Your work as a musical arts manager could require you to plan and coordinate entertainment programs for cultural institutions. Working for a university might entail selecting artists and ensembles to perform for students and members of the community; you might also plan arts education programs.

Salary Info and Career Prospects

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of agents and business managers of artists, performers and athletes is expected to increase 7%-13% from 2012-2022. As of May 2014, the BLS reported a median salary of $64,200 for agents and business managers of artists, performers and athletes.

Educational Requirements

Most musical arts management positions require a bachelor's degree and some experience in business management or finance. A degree in a management-related field is preferred by most employers. Training in business communication can also come in handy for prospective musical arts managers since they spend much of their time establishing and maintaining professional relationships.

You need to possess an array of qualities to succeed as a musical arts manager. Excellent communication skills and a detail-oriented approach are essential. A healthy amount of creativity can also help you navigate an industry that's subject to unpredictable fluctuations. A good grasp of marketing techniques is necessary in this field as well.

What Are Employers Looking For?

While you might find a job with any number of organizations, the following job postings from April 2012 can give you an idea of the job market:

  • A major music company based in New York City seeks an analyst for its worldwide artist services division. A good deal of financial analysis is involved in this position, along with budget forecasting and frequent presentations for the board of directors. A bachelor's degree and two years of experience in finance is preferred.
  • A California university is looking for an artistic and managing director for the school's music center. The successful candidate will provide the overall artistic vision and executive leadership for the center. Duties include developing partnerships with local professional music ensembles and planning all performing arts programs. A bachelor's degree and formal arts education (preferably in music) are required for the position; experience as a performing artist is preferred.
  • A major music company seeks a royalty audit manager for its California offices. This position involves coordinating with artist representatives and external auditors to reconcile financial issues. A bachelor's degree in accounting, finance or business is preferred for the position, and 4-5 years of experience in the entertainment industry (focused in royalty accounting or contract compliance auditing) is required.

Standing Out in the Field

Since most musical arts management positions require a bachelor's degree in a business-related field, you can set yourself apart from other job seekers by earning an advanced degree. A Master of Business Administration (MBA) might be especially useful for succeeding in the complex and ever-changing music industry. Having a good knowledge of music theory and technique may also help you stand out from other prospective managers.

Taking specialized courses could help you gain an edge in the job market as well. Training in negotiation, marketing or business law might be particularly useful for a manager in the music industry. Even if you work in a performing arts center or university, these skills can help you accomplish community outreach and education goals.

Alternative Career Options

If you'd like to be involved in the music or entertainment industry but want to focus more on marketing and sales, a position in promotions management may be right for you. Most advertising, promotions and marketing manager positions require a bachelor's degree and 1-5 years of related experience. The BLS reports that employment of advertising, promotions and marketing managers is projected to increase 14% from 2010-2020. These professionals reportedly earned a median salary of about $88,000 as of May 2011, which is higher than that of musical arts managers.

If you're more inclined toward musical performance, you might want to pursue a career as a musician or songwriter. Although these careers generally involve a lot of late nights and travel, you get to indulge your creative side while acting as your own boss. The BLS projects modest job growth for musicians and singers, with overall employment expected to increase 10% from 2010-2020. While musicians' annual salaries vary significantly, the BLS reported a median hourly rate of around $22 as of May 2011.

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