What Are Artist Managers?


When we think about the music and entertainment worlds, we often picture singers, bands, and actors in the spotlight. But behind the scenes, artist managers play a crucial role in making sure these stars shine brightly. Artist managers are unseen heroes who work tirelessly to guide the careers of their clients, ensuring they get the best opportunities and make smart choices along the way.

An artist manager is like a coach for musicians and actors, helping them navigate the complex world of entertainment. They handle negotiations, plan careers, and even help with marketing. Their job is to take care of the business side of things so that artists can focus on creating music, acting, or whatever it is they do best.

In this article, we’re going to discuss what artist managers do, the skills they need to be successful, and how they make a big difference in the careers of artists. Whether you’re an aspiring artist trying to understand the industry better or just curious about the behind-the-scenes action, you’re in the right place to learn about the vital role of artist managers.

The Role of an Artist Manager

Man getting out of a car being greeted by a woman

The role of an artist manager is diverse and dynamic, encompassing a range of responsibilities that are crucial for the success and development of artists in the entertainment industry. Let’s break down what artist managers do, including their key responsibilities and a glimpse into their daily activities.

Definition and Key Responsibilities

An artist manager, often referred to as a talent manager, is someone who oversees the business aspects of an artist’s career. They are the strategists behind the scenes, ensuring that an artist’s path is aligned with their goals and values. Here are some of the core responsibilities:

  • Career Planning: Artist managers help plot the course of an artist’s career, setting long-term goals and developing strategies to achieve them. This includes deciding on the right time to release new music, go on tour, or branch out into new ventures.
  • Negotiations: Whether it’s negotiating contracts with record labels, securing deals for live performances, or discussing terms with sponsors, artist managers act as the intermediary between artists and other parties to ensure the best outcomes for their clients.
  • Marketing and Promotion: Managers play a key role in promoting artists and their work. This involves coordinating with marketing teams, planning social media strategies, and ensuring that the artist’s brand is consistently and effectively presented to the public.
  • Financial Management: Overseeing the financial aspects of an artist’s career, including budgeting for tours, recording sessions, and other projects, is another critical responsibility. Managers ensure that artists’ financial affairs are in order, from income to investments.

Daily Activities

The day-to-day life of an artist manager is varied, reflecting the diverse needs of their clients. A typical day might include:

  • Meetings with Record Labels and Producers: Discussing upcoming projects, release strategies, and potential collaborations to advance the artist’s career.
  • Scheduling: Organizing the artist’s calendar, from studio time for recording to interviews with the media and appearances at events.
  • Financial Planning: Reviewing budgets for upcoming projects and tours, ensuring that expenses are managed wisely.
  • Communicating with the Artist: Regular check-ins with the artist to discuss upcoming plans, address any concerns, and offer guidance and support.
  • Crisis Management: Handling unexpected issues that arise, whether it’s a canceled show, a PR issue, or a contract dispute, ensuring minimal impact on the artist’s career.

Artist managers are the backbone of the artist’s support system, combining deep industry knowledge with a passion for music and entertainment. Their role requires a balance of business acumen, interpersonal skills, and a genuine commitment to the artist’s vision and success.

Skills and Qualities of Successful Artist Managers

Meeting with a manager

Successful artist managers blend a unique set of skills and personal qualities to navigate the complexities of the music and entertainment industries. Their role is multifaceted, demanding not only a deep understanding of the business but also the ability to manage relationships, make strategic decisions, and support their artists’ creative visions. Here’s a closer look at the essential skills and personal qualities that characterize successful artist managers.

Essential Skills

  • Negotiation Skills: A core skill for any artist manager is the ability to negotiate contracts and deals effectively. This involves understanding legal jargon, recognizing what constitutes a fair deal, and advocating for the artist’s best interests.
  • Business Acumen: Understanding the business side of the entertainment industry is crucial. This includes knowledge of marketing, finance, and the ever-changing dynamics of music distribution and sales.
  • Communication Skills: Excellent verbal and written communication skills are essential for artist managers. They must be able to convey ideas clearly, negotiate deals, and maintain strong relationships with artists, record labels, promoters, and other stakeholders.
  • Strategic Planning: The ability to plan for both the short-term and long-term is critical. Artist managers must set career goals with their artists and devise strategies to achieve them, considering the evolving landscape of the entertainment industry.

Personal Qualities

  • Patience: The entertainment industry can be unpredictable and slow-moving. Successful artist managers possess the patience to navigate these challenges, understanding that career development often requires a long-term perspective.
  • Passion for Music and Entertainment: A genuine love for music and the arts is what often draws individuals to this career. This passion fuels their dedication to their artists and their ability to stay informed about industry trends.
  • Resilience: The path to success is rarely smooth in the entertainment industry. Artist managers must have the resilience to bounce back from setbacks and continue to pursue their artists’ goals with determination.
  • Adaptability: The ability to adapt to new challenges and changes in the industry is crucial. Whether it’s embracing new digital platforms or finding creative solutions to problems, adaptability is a key trait of successful artist managers.
  • Empathy: Understanding and empathizing with artists’ concerns, aspirations, and creative processes is essential for building a strong and trusting relationship. Artist managers must balance business objectives with respect for the artist’s artistic vision.

How Artist Managers Shape Careers

People happy in a meeting

Artist managers play a pivotal role in shaping the careers of their clients, serving as both guides and guardians through the complex landscape of the entertainment industry. Their influence extends across various aspects of an artist’s career, from development and networking to strategic decision-making and crisis management. Here’s how artist managers make a significant impact on the trajectories of the artists they work with.

Career Development

The strategic planning and direction provided by an artist manager can significantly influence an artist’s career trajectory. Artist managers identify and cultivate their clients’ strengths, helping to define their artistic identity and market appeal. They work closely with artists to set achievable goals, whether it’s releasing an album, going on tour, or expanding into other areas of the entertainment industry. By carefully planning each step, artist managers ensure that their clients not only reach their current objectives but also lay the groundwork for future successes.

Networking and Opportunities

One of the key roles of an artist manager is to serve as a connector, leveraging their network to open doors that might otherwise remain closed. They maintain relationships with record labels, concert promoters, media outlets, and other industry professionals. Through these connections, artist managers secure performance gigs, media appearances, and collaborations with other artists, all of which are crucial for building an artist’s profile and fan base. The opportunities garnered through an artist manager’s network can be game-changers in an artist’s career.

Navigating Challenges

The road to success in the entertainment industry is fraught with challenges, from contractual disputes to public relations crises. Artist managers stand on the front lines, addressing these issues head-on to protect their clients’ interests and reputations. Their ability to manage crises effectively can often make the difference between a minor setback and a career-threatening situation. By providing stability and support, artist managers enable their clients to focus on their creative pursuits, free from the distractions of the industry’s volatility.

Empowering Artists

Ultimately, the role of an artist manager is to empower artists, giving them the freedom to explore their creativity while ensuring their career remains on a positive trajectory. This involves a delicate balance of pushing for growth and recognizing the artist’s limits. The best artist managers are those who can challenge their clients to achieve their full potential while remaining attuned to their needs and aspirations.

Choosing the Right Artist Manager

Two men having a meeting

Choosing the right artist manager is a critical decision for any artist, as this partnership can greatly influence the direction and success of their career. An effective artist manager not only understands the business side of music but also aligns with the artist’s vision and values. Here are key considerations and steps artists should take when selecting an artist manager.

Finding a Match

  • Alignment of Vision and Goals: It’s essential for artists to find a manager who shares their artistic vision and understands their career goals. A manager’s ability to see and support the artist’s long-term objectives is fundamental to a fruitful partnership.
  • Experience and Track Record: Investigating a potential manager’s experience and success with other artists can provide valuable insights into their capability and industry network. Experience in similar music genres or career stages can be particularly beneficial.
  • Communication and Chemistry: Effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful relationship. Artists should seek a manager with whom they can communicate openly and comfortably. Personal chemistry, mutual respect, and trust are also crucial factors.

The Agreement

  • Contract Terms: Understanding the terms of the management agreement is vital before entering into a partnership. Key aspects to consider include the duration of the contract, the manager’s commission rate, and the specific duties and responsibilities outlined.
  • Flexibility and Exit Clauses: The music industry is dynamic, and careers can evolve in unexpected ways. Agreements should have some degree of flexibility to accommodate changes in the artist’s career or personal circumstances. Exit clauses allow both parties to part ways if the partnership is not working as expected without causing undue harm to the artist’s career.
  • Expectations and Boundaries: Setting clear expectations and boundaries from the outset can prevent misunderstandings and conflicts down the line. Both the artist and the manager should be transparent about what they expect from the partnership and how they prefer to work.

Tips for Artists

  • Do Your Research: Before making a decision, artists should thoroughly research potential managers. This includes looking into their professional background, talking to other artists they’ve worked with, and understanding their approach to management.
  • Seek Legal Advice: Consulting with a legal professional to review and discuss the management contract can help artists ensure that their interests are protected. A lawyer can also assist in negotiating more favorable terms.
  • Trust Your Instincts: Ultimately, choosing a manager is not only about professional qualifications but also about gut feeling. If an artist feels comfortable and confident in a manager’s ability to represent their interests, it’s a good sign that the partnership could be successful.


Artist managers play an essential role in the music and entertainment industries, guiding the careers of artists toward success. From strategic planning and networking to negotiating contracts and handling crises, the responsibilities of an artist manager are vast and varied. The right manager can open doors, provide invaluable advice, and support artists in achieving their dreams.

For artists, choosing a manager who aligns with their vision, understands their goals, and possesses the necessary skills and qualities is crucial. Together, an artist and their manager can navigate the challenges of the industry and carve out a path to success.

Additional Ideas

  • Professionals like manager Jordan Kurland have experience with numerous artists. With these experiences comes invaluable knowledge and connections that would otherwise take years to cultivate by yourself.
  • Jordan Kurland says, “Artists want to be around other artists.” Surrounding yourself with individuals whose passions and goals are similar to yours makes you more likely to succeed and have fun doing it.
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