Important skills every music manager should have

Learn what it takes to be an effective artist manager in today’s music industry from our friends at indie and d.i.y. distribution platform Symphonic.

by Randi Zimmerman of Symphonic Blog

Like many jobs in this industry, the work of managing artists can be extremely competitive and exceptionally stressful. Great managers do everything they can to secure the best opportunities for their clients, and sometimes this requires playing many different roles. In addition, mastering these roles takes learning a plethora of skills to pave the way. In this post, we’ll break down some valuable management skills every artist manager should have in their arsenal.

Time Management

As a manager of creatives, being able to manage your own time wisely is the biggest part of the gig. It’s your job to keep things on track, in order and running smoothly. Whether it’s managing deadlines, contracts, scheduling or emails, there are tons of management apps out there that specialize in whatever you need help with. For example:

  • Rize is great for analyzing how you use your time. It shows you how much you actually spend focusing and finds out which websites are distracting you the most so you can streamline your workflow.
  • Notion is a great app for those looking for one platform to do it all. It offers many different productivity apps in one place, so you can replace your to-do lists, project management apps, note-taking app and more with this one service if you want.

Mapping out your time wisely is the first step to masterful organization. If you’re a manager looking to improve, plan out your priorities at the start of every week to take note of what’s most important, time-sensitive, etc. Kicking off your week this way helps keep things on the top of your mind and prevents smaller items from getting lost in the shuffle.


The art of negotiation is one every great artist manager should know like the back of their hand. A manager’s success is directly correlated with that of the artists they manage. That being said, the ability to effectively negotiate terms, contracts, relationships, gigs and more on a weekly basis is absolutely essential. Although all music managers are different and may possess particularly strong skills in different areas, negotiation is one they all have in common.

Problem Solving / Critical Thinking

Managing an artists career brings many obstacles along the way. From internal growing pains to outside forces, a killer manager should be able to face these challenges head on with intuitive, critical thinking skills. In addition, they need to be quick on their feet when it comes to financial hardships and business deals. The fate of the artists they manage remain in a delicate balance that the artist manager has the responsibility to keep. Being able to work through problems as they arise with efficiency and finesse is one of the best qualities a manager can have.


Good Priorities

As the support system for artists big and small, an artist manager has to be able to prioritize what’s right for each musician as it pertains to them personally. There’s no one size fits all path for every artist’s career, so the manager has to be able to communicate and understand the personal goals, long term vision, self image, commitment, etc. of each artist in order to come up with an actionable plan to position them with opportunities that will best suit their needs. A great manager isn’t selfish. Everything they do is in the best interest of their clients. They understand that the only way to win is for their clients to win first.

There is a level of trust within the artist/manager relationship that is essential for it to work. It’s a bond that is built off of consistent dedication over time and a proven track record of doing the right thing. Once this trust is lost, your artists are going to find someone else who can get it right the first time.

In Conclusion…

As creatives in such a fast-paced and competitive industry, artists place the utmost importance on creating the perfect track, performing at the highest ability and reaching the highest level in the game. With expectations so high, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. That’s where the managers come in. As a manager, it’s your job to keep this from happening and figure out how to manage this in a healthy, mindful way.

With skills like these to help you make moves with confidence and finesse, artists will be proud to have you as a part of their team. Don’t let them down! Practice makes perfect. These skills take time to master, and there’s no rush. Take your time and put in the work. It will pay off in no time.

Good luck!

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