Do music managers need a license

Do Music Managers Need a License

Music managers play a crucial role in the music industry. They help artists navigate the business side of their careers and handle the various tasks involved in promoting and managing their music. But is this a job that requires extra certification? Do music managers need a license to do their job in the US?

In the United States, music managers are generally not required to hold a specific license to practice their trade. However, they may need to obtain a business license if they operate as a sole proprietorship or form a corporation. They may also need a sales tax license if they handle the artist’s merchandise sales.

In this article, we will explore the various factors that may influence the need for a license for music managers and provide some guidance on how to determine if a license is necessary for a given situation.

Licensing requirements for becoming a music manager

As mentioned above, the only licensing requirements for US-based music managers are that of business ownership and incorporation, as well as sales tax for those that choose to handle merchandise sales directly.

In other countries, the requirements for obtaining a license as a music manager may be more stringent. In the United Kingdom, for example, the Music Managers Forum (MMF) requires music managers to register to be eligible to work in the industry. To qualify for membership in the MMF, music managers must meet certain criteria, including having a minimum of two years of experience in the industry and demonstrating a commitment to professional development.

Music managers may also need to be aware of any laws and regulations that apply to their work. For example, music managers may be subject to the same copyright laws as other industry professionals and may need permission to use copyrighted material in connection with the artist’s music. In some cases, anti-piracy laws and regulations may require music managers to comply, which may involve taking steps to prevent the unauthorized distribution of the artist’s music.

How to become a music manager

The following steps can be taken to launch a career in music management:

Acquiring your credentials

Music management in the current era presents a challenging task for aspiring managers due to their increasing responsibilities. For those without experience, securing a job in this field may take a lot of work. However, there are several ways to build experience and credentials in music management:

  1. Enrolling in business management programs at schools that offer such courses is one way to acquire the necessary knowledge and skills. This option also allows networking with other individuals who share the same aspirations. However, paying off student loans may be expensive and take years.
  2. Another option is to become an intern or apprentice for a local music management company. Although this may involve performing tedious tasks for little or no pay initially, it provides an opportunity to work up the corporate ladder and gain experience.
  3. Self-education is also a viable option, where individuals can learn at their own pace and explore related topics. This may include reading relevant articles and books, listening to podcasts, taking online or offline courses, attending events, finding mentors, and interacting with professionals at networking events and online forums.
  4. A multi-pronged approach incorporating various methods can also be adopted to gain knowledge, experience, and credibility.

Perseverance and the continuous acquisition of experience will increase the chances of securing gainful employment in music management.

Understanding revenue streams

Understanding revenue streams are crucial for any manager. This is because managers typically receive 15 to 20% commission on their work. If the artists you manage do not generate any income, your earnings will be zero.

As a music manager, it is important to be familiar with various revenue streams in the industry, including:

  • Recordings
  • Touring and merchandise
  • Licensing
  • Publishing
  • Crowdfunding
  • Sponsorships and endorsements
  • Subscriptions and fan clubs
  • Brand partnerships
  • Donations
  • and more

By helping artists maximize their income potential, you will also benefit from their success. Despite the potential challenges, it is vital to maintain an optimistic outlook and focus on the opportunities available in the music industry.

Hard work

A music manager’s 20% commission-based income is directly tied to the success of the artists they represent. If the artists are not generating significant revenue, the manager’s income will also be limited.

Success in the music industry can take time and is usually done overnight. Spending more time with an artist can increase earnings, but more is needed for a sustainable income. You will likely require additional sources of revenue.

Having another source of income, such as a day job, can be beneficial when starting a career in music management. This allows you to pursue your passion for music on evenings and weekends.

To become a successful music manager, being prepared to work hard and balance two jobs is important. Plan your time effectively, set aside specific hours for your music management duties, and be willing to work evenings and weekends if necessary.

Stay informed of industry trends

Keeping up-to-date with the trends in the music industry is crucial for a music manager. This enables them to identify potential clients and assess their success prospects. For example, if the manager notices a rise in the popularity of country music, they may consider representing new country artists (which is an oversimplification).

The internet is a valuable resource for researching the music industry, with access to blog posts, articles, and other music news sources.

Exploring the social media profiles of artists can also provide insights, including photos and videos that can help you familiarize yourself with the artist. Building relationships with other industry professionals, such as music managers or record producers, can also be an effective way to stay informed of industry trends.

Discovering and Acquiring New Clients

Finding clients as a music manager usually involves seeking out emerging artists who still need representation. This can be done through online research, such as watching videos on social media and checking digital portfolios, or by attending live performances to spot new talent. Once you have found a potential client, you can proceed to represent them.

Important Qualities for a Career in Music Management

As a music manager, it is vital to be prepared for responsibilities that may go beyond the job description. In the early stages of an artist’s career, the manager is often the direct support and guidance. Therefore, music managers must cultivate the following qualities:

  1. Knowledge-seeking attitude – Stay informed about the music industry and understand the roles of different players such as agents, promoters, labels, and PR companies. Continuously seek to improve your knowledge and stay current on industry best practices and trends.
  2. Strong people and communication skills – Networking, pitching, and following up with people are critical to generating opportunities for your artists. Develop strong communication and interpersonal skills to be effective in these tasks.
  3. Focus – Balancing work and play is important, but always prioritize work responsibilities. Ensure that your artists are prepared for interviews, venues, soundchecks, and other events.
  4. Diverse skill set – As the primary support for your artists, you may need to take on tasks typically handled by PR companies, agents, and labels. Be prepared for a demanding workload and consider developing diverse skills.
  5. Neutrality – Keep the peace within bands by remaining neutral and not taking sides. Provide advice to all members equally, and do not play favorites.


Overall, the role of a music manager is an important and multifaceted one, and it requires a wide range of skills and knowledge. Whether or not a music manager needs a license will depend on the specific duties and responsibilities of the position, as well as the laws and regulations of the jurisdiction in which they operate. By staying informed about the requirements and best practices for their profession, music managers can provide the best possible service to their clients and succeed in their careers.

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