As an artist, you know that the music industry has a ton of moving parts.
And while it would be awesome to tackle everything from songwriting to legal concerns to producing on your own; it’s just not realistic. Even for independent artists, music is a highly collaborative process.
In this article, we’re taking you through 9 music industry jobs for you to be aware of — both as an artist trying to grow your career and someone who has relevant skills that could be monetized to assist other artists.
You’ll come away with an understanding as to who you will need to make contact with, what those people do, and how you can get in on the action yourself to make some money.
Let’s check them out.
An entertainment attorney is an indispensable member of any artist's team — especially when it comes to negotiating a deal.
When someone gives you a contract to sign, it’s almost always weighted heavily in their favor. Even if you’ve already discussed things verbally, the technical language in a contract will likely be constructed to cultivate a significantly better deal for the other party.
The expectation from the other party is that you will work with an entertainment attorney, passing the contract back and forth until a deal can be agreed upon.
But if you don’t do this, the other side will be happy to take advantage, no questions asked. Don’t take that chance — you don’t want to end up with a bad deal that will hurt you in the long run.
In addition to negotiating contracts, entertainment attorneys can assist in:
- Copyright and trademark concerns
- Licensing for sampling music
- Any legal questions that you might have
Manager (3 Types)
There are three types of managers that are most common in the music industry:
- Artist Manager: Your primary manager. This person will be involved in all business and personal aspects of your life; so you’ll want to cultivate a healthy relationship. Be sure to still run any contracts with this person by your entertainment attorney — you don’t want to risk getting burned. Most artist managers take 15% of earnings, and work with just 2-3 clients to get record deals, book tours, and create new opportunities. If a manager wants a higher percentage or works with too many people, you should likely consider passing.
- Tour Manager: When you head out on tour, your artist manager is unlikely to tag along as they have to work with other clients and manage things on the back-end. Therefore, it becomes a tour manager's job to ensure everything runs smoothly on the road, from booking hotels to equipment maintenance to transportation.
- Business Manager: Some artists will also choose to hire a business manager. They’ll primarily be there to help manage your finances, ensuring that you are putting your hard-earned dollars to work in a way that benefits your livelihood and career.
Another important player in a touring scenario is your booking agent — the person that schedules live performances, books shows, and other events such as meet and greets, autograph signings, etc.
In some cases, a booking agent works directly with artists, but more often than not your artist manager will be dealing with multiple booking agents that handle specific venues in specific regions.
Generally, book agents take about 10% of anything that they book.
“A&R Rep” is a sleek term for Artist and Repertoire Representative. Basically these people are talent scouts — searching for promising artists to bring back to a label.
If the match between artist and label is a good fit, the A&R rep will work to develop the artist to ensure that the label gets a good return on their investment.
Back in the day, lots of what A&R Reps did was match songwriters at a publishing company with the artist’s style. But if you’re an independent musician who writes their own songs, your A&R is going to be much more involved in artist branding strategy rather than songwriting.
A music publisher owns and/or manages the royalties and licensing of songs. While there are a lot of different royalties that might apply to your music, two are most relevant:
- The recording of a song
- The song itself
If you are a songwriter, you have the right to make money from the songs you write — even if you’re not the person who actually records those songs for public release.
This is why a publisher is so important — they’ll help you collect royalties on your songs and could match you with other artists who are interested in recording your tracks. They may even connect you with brands who want to use your music in commercials.
Many independent artists function as their own publisher, as they hold the responsibility of writing and recording their own music. But because the publishing game can be somewhat complex, a significant number of artists who hold this responsibility aren’t collecting all the royalties that they’re owed.
Think this situation might apply to you? Check out this insightful video that will give you a detailed explanation of how music publishing works.
Many people will mistake a producer for someone that handles business elements of an artist's career — but this is rarely the case. Music producers aren’t like Hollywood producers; they don’t hold any direct management responsibilities.
A producer's job is to help an artist create a final recorded product. Not only do they provide services surrounding the recording and mixing of your tracks, they can also offer advice to shape the overall sound and feel of the recording.
Choosing the right producer is an important decision — they’ll be instrumental in bringing your track from its raw form to a finished product.
Producing is also one of those opportunities for you to dip your toes into, if you have the technical skill set. You could offer yourself and your production expertise to other independent artists and monetize from that — whether it be through selling a beat, mixing and mastering, or organizing a track.
Lots of musicians out there are interested in getting their music into TV, films, and video games. It’s a great way to get exposure for your work, and can also lead to a pretty nice pay-day.
This is the job of a music supervisor. These people are tasked with finding the right music for entertainment mediums outside of just an album or a single. If they identify your track as something that could work for a film or TV show, they will then work with you on licensing agreements and negotiations.
It’s pretty clear that life as an “independent artist” isn’t all that independent, especially as your career begins to take shape.
Let’s provide you with a quick recap of the 9 music industry jobs we’ve discussed in this article:
- Entertainment Attorney: Handles legal matters and contract negotiations.
- Artist Manager: Primary manager for artists; career visionary. Takes 15%.
- Tour Manager: Keeps things operating smoothly while on tour — essentially assumes artist manager role while on tour.
- Business Manager: Helps you to manage and create strategies for finances.
- Booking Agent: Books public appearances for live shows, concerts, and other events. Takes 10%.
- A&R Rep: Assists labels in discovery and development of promising talent.
- Publisher: Ensures you get paid what you deserve on songs you write. Can also help in getting your songs recorded by other artists.
- Producer: Helps to shape the overall sound of your project and deliver a quality record. There could be an opportunity for you to function on the producing side, as well.
- Music Supervisor: Work in film, television, and video game industries to match music with other projects; handle the administrative tasks that go along with that.
We hope that you found this article to be helpful for you in understanding some important jobs in the music industry.
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