Band Manager Careers: Salary Information & Job Description

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What are the pros and cons of a band manager career? Get real job descriptions, career prospects and salary info to see if becoming a band manager is right for you.
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Pros and Cons of a Band Manager Career

Band managers represent and promote artists, and they also handle business contract negotiations. Read for more information to help you decide if this is the right career path for you.

Opportunities for traveling around the world*
Creative environment, interaction with musicians*
Higher than average income (median income of $64,200 in 2014)**
Access to the behind-the-scenes world of the music business*

Stressful daily work involving conflict negotiation among other things**
Highly competitive field*
Long hours*
Job can be dependent on clients' career path*

Sources: *U.S. News and World Report, **O*Net OnLine.

Essential Career Info

Job Duties

In order for bands to thrive, they need someone in charge of promoting them and handling their day-to-day business affairs - this is where band managers come in. As a band manager, you would serve as a representative and liaison for a band in their business interactions. You would be responsible for negotiating contracts with record companies and performance venues as well as managing the finances of the band. You would also help plan tours, setting up concert dates, working with all the parties involved on arranging schedules. You may also be the person who everyone comes to with complaints and issues, and these can be from the musicians themselves, record executives and venue managers.

If a band is just starting out, your job as manager will involve a lot of promotional activities, like sending material to radio stations and to reviewers, and setting up interviews. A band further along in their career may need you to oversee other employees and to spend more time negotiating larger contracts for long world tours.

Salary and Employment Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), agents and business managers for artists and athletes earned a median income of around $64,000 as of 2014. The BLS also reported that the public relations management field is likely to grow faster than average (7%) between 2012 and 2024. Despite the projected job growth, however, getting started in this field is difficult. Entry-level jobs are competitive and success often has to do with whom you know and what kind of experience you have, which can present a significant challenge when you're just starting out. Many band managers are paid a percentage of earnings by the band they work for, often around 15%-20%.

Education and Training Requirements

While some positions may not require it, you should have a bachelor's degree if you're interested in managing a band. Helpful courses or majors include communications, finance, marketing, public relations and business law. A lot of the necessary training is performed on the job, either through internships or entry-level jobs. You can try to gain entry into this field by becoming an intern or assistant at a management company or by offering to help unknown bands achieve recognition.

Although it is not required, management companies sometimes prefer to hire people with Master in Business Administration (MBA) degrees. Considering the stiff competition for jobs in this field, the stronger your educational background, the better.

Necessary Skills

This can be a highly stressful job, so it is necessary to be adept at handling stress and anxiety, and to work well under pressure. It is essential to be highly organized and to be good with handling finances. Band managers need to be tech-savvy in order to stay in touch with all their many contact in the most efficient way, and to help promote the band or bands they work for through social media.

What Employers Are Looking for

What all the job listings for this career have in common is that they ask for someone with a lot of energy, knowledge about the music business and stellar communications skills. None require a specific higher degree, but each one asks for a person willing to put their all into improving the career of the client. Here are some job listings for band managers available in June 2012:

  • A record company based in Los Angeles, California, is looking for a band manager to work with one specific group on their label. Job duties include establishing and building relationships with entertainment contacts, planning and organizing the band's business affairs and giving daily progress reports to the band. They are looking someone who will devote their time and energy into improving this band's career. A strong music business background is preferred.
  • A talent management company in New York City is looking to hire two talent managers to work with their roster of entertainers. The job requires 2-3 years of experience in the music business, excellent communication skills, the ability to work well under pressure, and both knowledge and passion for music.
  • A New York City based band is seeking an assistant band manager to work in a paid intern capacity. The assistant must book a rehearsal space and gigs, set up promotional street teams, coordinate business activities for the band and provide daily progress reports. Experience or a strong desire to learn all the ins and outs of the music business are desired.

How to Stand Out in the Field

Band managers have to be adept at business while also being able to connect with creative musicians. As a result, a strong background knowledge of music, as well as the music business, will serve you well. The ability to converse in a foreign language (Spanish in particular) can be very helpful in this career, since some of your clients may want to reach out to a Latin American or other international audience.

In order to serve the bands you work for, you need to be an excellent contract negotiator. While you're in college, you should consider taking courses in contract law, which can give you insight into the process of drawing up a band's contract. Since bands can be treated like a small business in and of themselves, you could also take courses in consumer behavior, market research, communication methods and sales. Since you'll be expected to keep records of expenses and manage other data, strong computer skills are something else you should build.

Other Careers to Consider

If you enjoy working on contract negotiations, but want a higher salary, you might consider becoming an entertainment lawyer. Lawyers must graduate with bachelor's degrees followed by Juris Doctor (J.D.) degrees from accredited law schools. During the summers between law school semesters, students find temporary jobs with law firms in their area of interest. If you want to become an entertainment lawyer, you could look for work with a firm specializing in representing talent. According to the BLS, lawyers earned a median annual income of $113,000 as of 2011.

If you love music and want to interact with the industry, but the business side of things doesn't appeal to you, you may want to consider becoming a journalist who writes about music. To work as a journalist, you need to have a bachelor's degree in journalism or a related field like English or political science combined with work or internship experience. You can also pursue a master's degree in journalism if you have a degree in another field and want to work as a journalist. The BLS reported that in 2011 journalists earned a median annual income of $35,000.

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