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Career Corner
Personal Manager

(By Richard Morales)
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: Representing act; overseeing and guiding all aspects of an artist's career 
Alternate Title(s):
Artist's Representative; Manager 
Salary Range
: 10% to 50% of artist's earnings 
Employment Prospects:
Advancement Prospects
: Fair 
Best Geographical Locations for Position:
Managers for major acts are usually located in New York City, Los Angeles, or Nashville; managers for lesser known acts may be located anywhere in the country 

Education or Training
- No educational requirement; college background helpful; courses or seminars in busi­ness and music industry are useful
Experience - Any type of experience in any phase of the music business is valuable.
Special Skills and Personality Traits - Music industry contacts; aggressiveness; knowledge of music industry; ability to see raw talent; ability to work under pressure 


Personal Manager for Top Recording Act
Personal Manager
This position can be entry level or individual can come from other facets of the music industry

Position Description

The main job of the Personal Manager is to represent one or more musical groups or artists. In doing this, the Manager oversees all aspects of an artist’s career.
The Personal Manager, in essence, deals with and advises the act on all business decisions and many of the creative decisions artists must make. In this manner, the Manager attempts to guide an artist's rise to the top.
The Manager begins by hearing and/or seeing an artist he or she feels has talent. After discussions with the act, a Manager may feel he or she has something to offer the act. The Manager should have the know-how to direct a musical career. If a bargain is struck, the two parties usually sign a contract. It is then the Manager's job to begin to plan for stardom.

In this position, the Manager is the single most im­portant person (talent notwithstanding) helping the act
attain stardom or success. Soon .after signing the con­tract, the Manager will begin looking for a record labelthat is interested in the act. This is accomplished in a variety or ways, including talking to personal contacts, showcasing the act, and/or providing demo tapes and videos. 

When the Manager finds a label interested in the act, he or she may negotiate a recording deal or recommend a music industry attorney to negotiate on behalf of the group. .

The Manager seeks out booking agents to find en­gagements for the act. If the act is just starting out, the Manager may book dates him- or herself. However, it is illegal in a number of states for an individual to act as both a Manager and a booking agent. In other words, the Manager cannot usually take both a percentage of the artist's earnings for managing and an additional percent­age for booking the act.

The Manager might help the artists polish their act by reviewing tunes, choreography, costumes, and backup musicians.  He or she might also help choose musical personnel, producers, engineers, etc., for a recording date.

Representing the artist at all times, the Manager advises the act about other personnel to hire and/or fire. Personnel might include both business and talent peo­ple. Some examples of support personnel are: public relations firms, publicists, road personnel, producers, musicians, accountants, security people, and merchan­disers.

As the Manager, the individual is responsible for advancing the act's career as much as possible. He or she must oversee all the personnel and their jobs in relation to the act. At times, the Manager might have to audit books or act as a Road Manager or even as the heavy in a dispute with a promoter.

A Manager must be willing to work hard for the success of the client. Working hard, however, doesn't always mean the artist will be successful. It is helpful for the Manager to have industry contacts. These con­tacts sometimes help the artist get to the top.

Managers are often given power of attorney for their clients. In some cases, the power of attorney is complete; in others, it is limited. Whatever the case, the Manager usually is given authority to approve concert dates and places, monies for concerts. publicity materials, etc.

The individual an act chooses to be its Manager must be compatible with the act. He or she must be available on a day-to-day basis to discuss any problems the artist has. In addition, the two parties must meet on a regular basis to discuss new ways to advance the career of the act.

In many cases, the Manager puts up money to finance the group or artist hoping to make the money back later. In other cases, the Manager might find a financial backer for the group.

The Personal Manager works closely with all mem­bers of the act's team. He or she may spend a great deal of time with the act's publicity or public relations firm working on building the image of the act.

The Manager will also be in constant communication with the act's booking agent or agency. The Manager must make sure that the act is always well represented by others.

The Manager is responsible directly to the act. Al­though the terms of each artist-manager contract are different, most run for a specified number of years. Some have option clauses that the Manager can pick up if he or she desires.

The lifestyle of a Personal Manager in the music business is a busy one. Long hours are spent with the act. More hours are used up dealing on the group's behalf. If a Manager is with an artist who makes it financially, he or she usually enjoys the success, too.

Since Managers can handle more than one client (al­though they don't usually handle vast numbers at any one time), they can make out quite well financially.


Personal Managers receive a percentage of artist's earnings. This percentage varies with the individual and the manager. It can range from 10% to 50%. The usual amount is 15% to 20% of artist earnings. In certain situations, the percentage goes up as' an artist makes more money. For example, the Manager may make 10% of all earnings up to $100,000 and 15% on all monies after that.

Managers receive these fees off the top. Fees are received on monies from personal appearances, con­certs, television, recording, etc. In some cases, the Man­ager also takes a percentage of merchandising paraphernalia sold (T-shirts, posters, bumper stickers, pins, etc.)

A Manager working with a band just starting out may earn the same amount of money as the band members until they get on their feet financially. The Manager may opt to take nothing until the group starts doing reason­ably well.         .

The Manager often puts up money for the act in excess of his or her salary, temporarily losing money. The Manager hopes that the money will be recouped later when the band is successful. (On the other hand, the band may break up or never get anywhere, and the Manager may incur a loss.)

A Manager working with a top recording group can make $500.000 plus. Managers often handle more than one act at a time.

Employment Prospects

Employment prospects are good for Personal Man­agers. As almost anyone can become a Manager, all one has to do is find acts to sign up. This is not to say that everyone can be a good Manager. In order to be success­ful, the Personal Manager must have contacts and guide the act's career.

There are many groups that are not yet signed with anyone. An individual with an eye for raw talent can certainly enter this field.

Advancement Prospects

There are many Managers around the country and the world. Most of them, however, do not handle major acts. In order to attract a top recording act, a Manager must have proven him- or herself in the past. This usually means having a top act or an up-and- coming act signed. One other excellent method is for the Personal Manager to start with a new act and work with them, guiding their career until stardom.  Unfortunately, though, as groups begin to attain success they often try to get out of their contracts with smaller Managers and sign with better known Managers.

Education and Training

There are no formal educational requirements to qualify one for a position as a manager.  A college background is helpful, however.  There are currently degrees and courses offered in the music business and music merchandising.  Other useful majors and/or courses are business, law, communications, journalism, and marketing.

Experience/Skills/Personality Traits

A very broad knowledge of the entire music business is necessary for success as a Manager.  Many new managers (those starting with local acts, for instance) learn the ropes as they go.  It is important for the individual to acquire as many useful music contacts as possible.  This assists the manager to help an act.

Successful managers are hard-working individuals, always making efforts on their group’s behalf.  A Personal Manager should have the ability to see raw talent and work with it until it is polished to perfection.
Many managers begin their careers as musicians and find they enjoy the business end of the industry more.  Personal Managers should be adept at all the business facets of an entertainer’s career.  The ability to give positive, constructive advice on the creative end is a plus. 


There is no bargaining union for Personal Managers.  There is an association called the Conference of Personal Managers.  This organization sets standards for the conduct of Personal Managers.

Tips for Entry

  1. Try to break into management on a local level.  There are many acts waiting for someone to help them.
  2. You might consider working for a management agency as an assistant or the mailroom to learn the ropes.
  3. There are often ads placed in the classified sections of newspapers and trades by groups seeking management.  Some of theses acts need management to find a backer.  Some will want the manager to be the backer, while others may just need to have someone notice their talent.  Check it Out!

Updated: February 18, 2008

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