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Professional Development
Creative Industries
Author:
Tomas Bilbao

Global creative industries are exploding. In California alone, this sector has delivered $650 billion in total economic output, 2.7 million jobs, and $209 billion in labor income. Globally, the creative economy contributes just over 6.1% to GDP. According to UN estimates, creative industries generate annual revenues of $2.25 trillion and account for 30 million jobs worldwide. Within the creative economy, there is a wide array of sub-industries and a booming number of career opportunities. Music management is one of them.  

What is Music Management? 

Music management is a complex and demanding career that entails many different responsibilities. Music managers are responsible for every aspect of a musician's career, except for writing, recording, and performing the music. Responsibilities include but are not limited to booking gigs, planning album projects, orchestrating record releases and tours, managing the artist's or band's finances, creating marketing and merchandising strategies, and facilitating artist development. Managers are their client's best advocates. They often negotiate on the musician's behalf, mediate conflicts and help the artist improve their mental and/or physical health.  

While there are many different types of music managers, there are three popular types of music management:  

  • Artist Management - Artist managers work directly with an artist or band on many aspects of their career, from day-to-day activities to goal setting and making professional decisions. Artist managers also represent the client's interests with larger productions and teams. If working with an independent artist, talent managers are often responsible for getting the musician noticed by production labels and recording studios. 
  • Business Management - The music business is just that, a business. Musicians need business managers to handle their finances - income and expenses, payments, taxes, investments, and accounting, for example. 
  • Road or Tour Management - While an artist is on tour, a road or tour manager handles all of the logistics and organization, including hotel arrangements, venue, and media obligations, support staff, equipment, and itinerary. They get the client where they need to be, when they need to be there, with the right equipment, allowing the artist to focus on creating.  

Some music managers do all of these things, especially if they work for smaller musicians. Some work independently, while others work for or run music management companies. Music management companies provide artists with all their management needs and other resources in a one-stop-shop. Other music management opportunities include music law, marketing, public relations, and music production.

How to Get into Music Management 

Love for music is a crucial prerequisite for any career in music management, but it takes much more than that to make a successful career. Most managers often start as artists, audio engineers, assistants, or promoters and work their way up. Other managers find internships that give them a professional leg up. Regardless of where they start, managers can develop traits and earn degrees that help them move into or advance their career in the music business.  

 7 Important Traits for Music Managers

  1. Creative - Although music managers are not creating music, they are major facilitators of creativity for their clients. A creating mind helps managers assist the talent, build and maintain their artist roster, solve problems and keep up in an ever-changing industry. 
  2. Personable - Music managers work with people constantly - musicians, publicists, and other music professionals. Knowing how to talk to and relate to people is critical. 
  3. Well-Connected - Much like other creative industries, doing well in the music industry relies heavily on who you know. Knowing many of the right kinds of people helps managers serve the talent and advance their career in the music business. 
  4. Enterprising - Enterprises are typically natural leaders and have a keen ability to influence and persuade people. They are self-motivated, go-getters, and make things happen. This is an essential trait in any management career, but especially in a highly competitive, relationship-based industry. 
  5. Organized - Music managers are tasked with many responsibilities on a day-to-day basis and often have multiple musicians to manage. They must stay organized to serve the talent well and stay on top of their responsibilities.
  6. Passionate - Music management is not an easy job, and like any other career, it's important to be passionate about what you do. Passion drives people through challenges, inspires creativity, makes relationship-building easier, and makes work more fulfilling and enjoyable. 
  7. Knowledgable - Good music managers have a deep understanding of the music industry and how it runs. They know some music history and stay informed about changes in the present day. Music managers can learn through real-world experiences, but it helps to have an academic degree. Being knowledgeable about the music industry builds credibility, fosters trust, and helps music managers be successful. 

Choosing a Degree

If you are interested in a career in music management, there are many degree programs that will teach the basic skills needed to start you on your career path. Thunderbird and the Herberger Institute of Design and Art just launched a new degree, the Master of Arts in Global Affairs and Management in Creative Industries. The program is located in the heart of Los Angeles at the iconic Herald Examiner Building and is taught by globally renowned faculty, practitioners, and industry experts.  

This 11-month graduate program is designed for individuals pursuing global leadership and management careers in music, film/television/new media, AR/VR/XR, gaming, design, dance, fashion, theatre, the arts, themed & location-based entertainment, and sports. Not only does the program offer a robust curriculum, but it also provides students with real-world opportunities and a vast network of professionals in the creative industries. Learn more

Whether you want to be an artist manager, business manager, marketing manager, or run an artist management agency, having the right traits, skills and education are critical to your success. 

Thunderbird Executive Director of Branding and Communications Tomas Bilbao

Tomas Bilbao

Executive Director, Branding & Communications

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