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The main duty of an artist manager is to run the artist’s career day by day. The manager is the closest person to the artist. He should be there to deal with all the other matters which don’t concern artistic side of a project. The manager usually signs an agreement with the band/artist in which it is specified what is expected by both parties, what percentage the manager gets of the incomes of the artist (usually 15 or 20%) and what happens if both or one decides to part ways.
The manager looks, on behalf of the artist, after the artist’s profits and expanses and regularly checks that contracts, royalties and license are all in order.
There are different areas that are covered by management; these are: music, business, road, tour, production and technical. An artist might have a single manager or a team of managers, each covering one of these areas.
In a management company an important role is covered by management accountants who differ from normal accountants because they not only store data, keep track of numbers and report it to the company, they are money makers, they are strategy planners, have a voice in the company investments and therefore have a different role in the company.
Part of the management of an artist are also music lawyers, which are divided in two main types: the ones who deal with litigations in court, and the ones who put agreements together. The so called “courtroom lawyers” usually deal with copyright infringements and contract disputes. The “transactional lawyers” are the ones who deal with every form of contract that concerns music (for instance: contracts between the artist and the producer or the manager or the publisher; contracts for licensing and registration of copyrights).
Major artists, usually also have sponsorship and endorsement. These are both deals between two brands, one being the artist or the band, the other being the brand willing to promote itself. In a sponsorship the brand promotes itself trying to reach as much audience as possible trying to take advantage of the artist’s fan base, sponsoring a fixed amount of money agreed in a contract and in exchange the artist will use their brand. The same happens with endorsement, where usually brands that work in the music field, give they’re products for free or for a discounted price depending of the level of audience the artist might reach.
Record labels are divided in two types: major and independent labels. Majors are essentially four big companies, that during the years have absorbed all the other big record labels. These “big four” are: Sony BMG, Universal Music Group, EMI and Warner Music Group.
An indie label is a record company which is independently funded and is not connected to any of the “big four”. The biggest advantage of signing with a major label, is the economic potential they can invest on your project. Indipendent labels though believe more in the project and give the artist more artistic freedom.
Depending on the level of the independent label they are organized the same way as major labels are. The record label’s hierarchy is made at the top by a legal department and business affairs. These two are responsible for all the contracts that are made between the company and the artist. Directly with the president of the record label they decide the terms of each contract and if to sign a new artist. Also they manage all the finance incomes and outcomes of the company.
Other departments involved in the correct functioning of a record label are:
Artist and Product Development department. This department is responsible for planning the artist or band career throughout his period with the label. They oversea the marketing and promoting plan. Correcting, helping and developing the artist’s talent on a long term view.
This department is slowly disappearing because, labels, are less focused on long term planning and more interested on developing a single product, like one hit, that can make a quicker and easier income. Infact some labels have renamed this department just “Product developing department”.
The A&R department. Is the one that looks for new talents to sign. For signed artists, instead, they take care of the songs selection and choose with the artist the recording studio and the producer. In general we can say that this department is the one connecting the artist to the all the other departments of the label.
The promotion department and New Media department’s duty is the one of making sure the artist is played and promoted on the radio and other platforms, like internet radios, spotify and itunes. They look after the online presence of the artist, often handling his social networks, sites, monitoring news and posts about him. Also they produce and promote music videos, proposing them into the market both on the internet and TV.
The sales department is the one supervising the sales of the record label. Both digital and physical. To produce, record and sell an album the record label gives the artist an advance. This advance is recouped by the record label by holding all the rights of the sells of the album until the advance is fully recouped.
Record labels are trying new strategies and starting to propose new deals called “360 deals”. With the continuous development of new technology; it has happened that records are not the primary business anymore, but live performances, singles instead of albums, merchandise, sponsors and tours are the main market nowadays. And with the 360 deal, record labels, are trying to move and get a grasp of the new progress of the music industry.
The business of creating, protecting and promoting songs and musical composition is the business of music publishing.
Access now to music is quicker and easier than ever before and the music business as well as music publishers have adapted to these changes by licensing music to a host of digital services.
Music publishers deal with songwriters, they invest on the early basis on the development of writers, who may write songs for performers, or write their own songs to perform them live. The publisher will invest time, money, passion and risk on the songwriter. He will register the work, make sure is protected correctly, he will also track royalties and make sure they are collected, so the writer can be paid for his work.
In case the artist does not have his own, Publishers also offer legal protection to protect the author in case of court litigations. The publisher usually commissions the work, registers it and promotes it.
A composition can be exploited in many ways: it can be played on the radio, sold, streamed, used for a visual purposes (this includes films, TV, games adds and apps); it might be performed live and music can be also sold as music sheets.
The field of using music along visual medias is the area called synchronization which is a specific thing that publishers do. Publishers are also “music pluggers” whose job is the one to suggest songs and infact promote the songwriter, to producers, A&R reps and managers for synchronization, performances or studio recording. Also covers, remixes and samples are under the working field of a publisher.
Every time a composition is bought, a copy is made, therefore royalties must be paid to the creator of that piece of music. If an artist wants to cover a song, he will only get the mechanical rights for it, the royalties will still go to the creator who owns the so called “intellectual property”.
Administering a song or a group of songs is not an easy work even though, investing a lot of time into it, it is doable without the help of a publisher. Usually, there are two main cases concerning the involvement of a publisher, a writer, after writing his song can decide if to sell his song to a publisher in which case the publisher will become also its rights owner and consequently he will collect royalties for himself; or an artist might decide to give the song to a publisher for him to administer and manage it, in which case the publisher will still get a cut from the work but its owner will remain the writer.
The live industry is composed by everything that concerns putting a gig together. Many people and companies are involved with different roles in the organization of a professional performance. But the key players in this field are:
Booking agents are companies or a single person, who help the artist or the band organizing their live performances. They serve as a connection between the artist and the promoters or the venue. Also they supervise the other people that are involved in the event, they make sure that gears and performance facilities are well organized. They agree along with the manager and the promoter the price of the ticket, they plan all the expenses from hiring instruments to lights and sound engineers and tour costs, they check the venue capacity and they also check that all the permissions and license are in place for the event.
The promoter is the person who negotiates with the booking agent to secure an artist for a live performance or more than one for a specified fee. He is also the person that looks and books the venue, and engages with the market campaign that concerns the ticket selling of the determined event.
Merchandising is an important part of a live performance, it’s a great income for the artist. Studying the target, in this case the fan base, a catalogue of usually clothes, posters, cd’s and vinyl’s is made to sell to fans at the gig. The artist is a trademark and therefore a live situation is a great way to sell directly to the customer, the brand.
Sponsors. Sponsors usually cover a big part of the budget and the income for a live gig. Sponsors are interested in promoting and advertising their brand to reach a target that otherwise would be too far for them to reach.
Venues are what makes all of this possible, from the artist point of view it is a way to reach his fans and a way to get known, to get more and more comfortable on stage, and ultimately it is a great emotional experience. From the venue point of view it is a business, they look for a great act, who will involve a lot of people, that will consume a lot, therefore they might sell beverages and food, also some venues get a percentage on the merchandise.
The promoter, supervised by the agent and the tour manager, agrees a contract with the venue for the act.
Tour management is usually employed in big shows, for small and mid sized tours usually they are called road managers. They organize the logistics of the event. The tour manager is the connection between the artist and the label, the agent, venue, and promoters. They travel with the band, organizing every step of the tour by organizing for example: time, hotel and flight bookings, TV, radio and press interviews.
Lady Gaga, born Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, in 1986 in New York, is a singer and performer that has gained a ridiculous successful career in the last decade. She is a great example of an artist that is also a brand. Infact Lady Gaga has become troughout the years a cultural, fashion and business phenomenon.
She makes 90 millions per year, forbes estimates, considering her three platinum albums, multiple successful tours and huge endorsement deals. She started her career after being dropped after three months from a recording contract with Def Jam label, which was an indipendent label until 2004 when it was acquired by Universal music group. After writing songs with producer and friend Rob Fusari she got signed with a publishing deal to Sony/ATV where she wrote songs for major pop stars such as: Britney Spears, Fergie and The Pussycat dolls.
Her career as a solo artist and as lady gaga, started when, while working at Sony, singer and producer Akon, noticed her vocal abilities and convinced Sony to have a Joint Venture deal with Interscope Records and KonLive Distribution.
A Joint deal is when a major and an indie label join forces and share responsibilities in making, marketing and promoting records. In 2008 she came up with her debut album “The Fame”. In the same year Gaga built her own creative team, the “Haus of Gaga”, which creates most of her creative performances, props, clothing, make up, videos and stage sets; which has had a great impact in her career. Gaga has worked with manager Troy Carter since 2007 but the two have ended their professional relationship in 2014 and she’s now working without a manager. According to withoutmodel.com “Lady Gaga is a living example of the new business model of the 21st century music industry- what the industry calls the « 360 deal » in which music companies share a proportion of revenues from every aspect of the artist’s business.”
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