The Non-Stop World of Artist Management
After graduating, I was awarded the Bristol Fellowship. My year long field research was on drumming and drum crafting within the different religious traditions of Fiji, Japan, India, Morocco and Cuba. Though I thoroughly enjoyed studying ethnomusicology, I quickly realized it was a very small field and I pivoted into the business side of the music industry.
Since 2011, I’ve been working at Q Prime, an artist management company based in New York City. Founded by Cliff Burnstein and Peter Mensch in 1981, we represent ~25 acts, predominantly in the rock world (Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Muse, The Black Keys, Cage The Elephant, to namedrop a few). The company has about 50 employees worldwide with additional offices in Nashville, London and Los Angeles.
What is artist management and what do managers do?
The terribly concise answer is, well, everything! Within an artist’s career, managers are the hub. We deal directly with the talent and all subsequent partners: the record labels, booking agents, concert promoters, digital service providers (e.g. Spotify/iTunes/YouTube), traditional retailers, radio stations, publishers, publicists, et cetera. Everything runs through us: we’re the quarterback on the artist’s team. Short of picking up a mic and guitar, artist management is the closest you can get to the stage.
My job specifically at the company is as a Digital Marketing Manager and Day-to-Day Manager.
On the digital marketing side, I manage the online properties of 11 of our artists. There are five other (awesome) folks who work in the Digital Department, so it’s a pretty tight-knit crew. We develop creative marketing campaigns to keep fans engaged, while promoting the latest album/single/video/tour. Digital marketing goes well beyond social media: we’re involved with anything that touches the internet: from the online advertising to building websites to running fan clubs. In essence, the job is to facilitate the artist’s creative vision online. Some artists are very involved with their online presence, others don’t give a hoot. It can be a delicate balance to sell records, tickets or merch while also keeping fans engaged and happy. Each artist is handled differently, according to the fanbase, so there is never a formulaic approach.
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I am also the day-to-day manager for a band called Foals. I look after them in North America only (they are based in the UK). Day-to-day is an entirely different beast than digital: it’s working more closely with the artist and with our partners. It’s a lot of coordinating the artist’s schedule – often months (and sometimes years) in advance. Day-to-day requires a bit more travel. Half of management is showing up, so if there’s a big show/festival or special event like a music video shoot, it’s important to be there to show support. A lot of late nights indeed!
To work in the music industry — and specifically in management — you need to be very passionate about music! This is not a 9-to-5 job. Cliché as it sounds, it truly can be 24/7 and there is often a very blurred line between your personal and professional life. Much of the job is putting out fires, so there is never a dull moment. No two days are ever the same. All that said, it certainly is a blast and if you interested in pursuing a career in the music industry and have any questions, please reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jesse Browner-Hamlin '07 majored in religious studies and Hispanic studies at Hamilton. He currently works as digital marketing manager at Q Prime.