Music Artist Management Contract- What To Know

For most mainstream artists—especially musicians—when they get business proposals, you hear them say, “Talk to my manager.” That sounds cool, and every artist desires to someday grow to the level where they can make a statement like that. The dream is usually to grow to that level. However, there are several notes that you need to hit when it comes to getting a manager. A typical music artist management contract has several high points that need to be connected. Unless the person you call your manager is your family or buddy, you will need to cut a managerial contract. The managerial contract will spell out the system of operation between you as the artist and the service of a manager. 

There’s a level you grow to where having family and friends managing your career in good faith will no longer suffice. You will need to place them on a contract even if they continue to be your friend or love you as they should as a family member. The content of this contract can either make or mar your career, so it has to be well put together. In this article, we’ll check out the ingredients of a healthy contract. However, let’s understand certain things regarding Music Artist Management contracts.

  • Why have a Music Artist Manager?
  • Benefits of Music Artist Management Contract
  • What to Know Before Signing a Management Contract
  • Elements of a Typical Music Artist Management Contract

Why have a Music Artist Manager?

The amount of work an average independent artist has to do these days is mesmerizing. You’ll have to combine making good music with publicity, band management, graphics design, and many other responsibilities. The irony of this matter is that you cannot afford to leave any of these parts undone. They all come together to form a component that defines the success of your music career. Now that the workload of essentials is becoming heavy for an average independent musician to handle, most artists become forced to delegate. This stage is where an artist manager becomes handy.

A music artist manager carries the responsibilities—essential and non-essential—so that an artist can focus on the other very important aspect—making good music. The manager handles the professional and business development of their clients. He is the business advocate and brand adviser for the artist. They weigh in on decisions for the artist, from long-term goals to what the artist has to have for lunch. Aside from these, the manager;

Negotiate Contracts

You’re going to be signing more than one business contract in the course of your music career—both music and non-music-related contracts. When these contracts start flowing in, you’ll need someone who can handle them, and you’re sure they’ll have your back—getting the best out of every deal.

Market, Promote, and Create a Brand Image

If contracts are going to flow in as you’ve always dreamt, you’ll need to get your brand image right. You will also need to invest heavily in music promotion. The success of your music career deals significantly with good branding, marketing, and music promotion. However, creating and maintaining a solid brand image, marketing the brand, and promoting your craft takes a chunk of time. Your manager handles that part on your behalf.

Money Management and Budgeting

Unless you understand business, money management and budgeting can be a real pain in the neck. Even if you do have the needed business acumen, how convenient would it be to manage the financial resources of your team? It’s usually best to delegate responsibilities like this one, and your manager would manage that for you.

Artist Development

Growth and opportunities to grow are significant in an artist’s career—regardless of how you’ve grown so far. There’s always room to do more, and that’s why they say the room for improvement is the largest room. Your manager will take it upon themselves to nurture you creatively and connect you with producers, artists, and clients that will help you grow significantly as an artist.

These are a few of the responsibilities of an artist manager—they are the basis of contract responsibilities. You tend to get more in service, done pro bono, if you have a good relationship with your manager. However, no matter the smoothness and great relationship you have as an artist with your manager, your business relationship must be bound by a management contract. This practice has many benefits to you and your career when you think of it from the long-term perspective. Let’s have an insightful look at some of these benefits below;

Benefits of Music Artist Management Contract

An artist-to-manager relationship should be a career-transforming relationship. However, the relationship can quickly go sore, especially when plagued with unexpected expectations. A well-written contract will outline the grey areas, list what’s expected of all players, and clarify the situation. Therefore, converting a management relationship into a contractual relationship is a valuable tool. It encourages communication and clears out the confusion. Even when a party fails to meet expectations, the contract settles the matter. When a breakup is imminent, it ensures that everyone gets a fair share, as stated by the contract. That’s why a management contract has to state;

  • What the manager is expected to bring to the table—must be something of value to the music career.
  • What the manager is expected to get out of the relationship—primarily from the artist. However, there can be other elements in the form of benefits that the manager gets, which don’t come directly from the artist. The contract has to give room for this or take care of it accordingly–stating who gets what.
  • What the artist would get from the relationship—would the manager have focused attention on you or have other artists they manage as well? What if the manager decides to quit or you choose to change manager? These things have to be well spelled out.

In summary, it is dangerous to leave your management contract only based on a handshake agreement. Many other business areas view written contracts as necessary; the same should go for music artist management relationships.

What to Know Before Signing a Music Artist Management Contract

The management contract you sign determines the success of your brand to a great extent. You, therefore, have to consider any contract you sign carefully. Sometimes, you will need to sign a contract for different parts of your career, but before you sign, make sure the contract terms align with your management contract. The problem, however, with most independent and upcoming musicians is that they do not know much about the contract. Yes, the details of a typical Music Artist Management Contract can be complicated, but you should at least know the basics of the contract such as it should;

Not be complicated

Most times, a lawyer will be the one to draft your contract; however, it must be in plain terms. You need to understand it without necessarily having to ask for an explanation. It should be a simple document covering money, contract length, labor, reward, expectations, etc.

Be Mutually Beneficial

What most artists do, which is good for business, is to look for an experienced manager who will handle their music career. However, where they go wrong is when, because of the manager’s experience and the perceived benefits they stand to gain, they shortchange themselves in the contract. Here is the right thing to do: no matter your manager’s experience, you have to cut out a contract that’s of mutual benefit. Don’t sign away your career on the altar of perceived benefits.

Be signed in Good Faith

Good faith has to do with trust.  You have to trust the person you choose to manage your career and vice versa. It must be someone you can trust enough not to shortchange you in any way. If, after drafting the contract, your first instinctive move is to check for loopholes, you should probably not sign that contract or enter into business with that person in the first place.

Elements of a Typical Music Artist Management Contract

Now that you know the basics of any Music Artist Management Contract let’s look at the elements of this type of contract. Remember that they necessarily do not have to be complicated so, let’s make a list of the few things the contract has to cover and the details for each;

Defined Terms and Options

The term of a management contract has to do with how long the contract will last. The typical management contract has about a two to three-year term. Some similar contracts come with the manager’s option to extend. The trick is that the managers benefit if they can hold on to the artist for a long time, while the artist will benefit more if the contract is short-term. Some cut out a contract that automatically terminates, while others choose to indicate the artist’s need for timely notice.

Manager’s Duties

Usually, a management contract indicates that the manager’s responsibility is to guide, advise, and direct the artist for the course of the contract. To add juice to it and show how severe the work should be, the contract might add a phrase such as “reasonable efforts” or “best effort.” The contract contains this phrase because the artist needs to guide against working with a manager that won’t put in enough effort or have lost interest,

Statement of Exclusivity

This statement is to protect the manager’s responsibility to the artist. It usually states that the artist has no power to hire someone else to provide the same or similar service as the managers. In other words, the manager has the exclusive right to provide such service to the artist.

Determine and Input Performance Benchmarks and Conditions

Aside from using the contract term route, another way an artist can determine to end a management contract is for the manager to fail to meet a specific performance level. However, this benchmark has to be stated clearly in the contract. For example, a contract could state that there will be a termination if the artist’s income fails to reach $100,000 in a stipulated time frame.


This statement has to do with clearly stating how the manager will earn more. For most Music Artist Management contracts, the manager will earn a percentage from the artist’s gross income. It will motivate the manager to work hard and increase the artist’s gross income as much as possible.

Sunset Clause

Most managers know full well that an artist will want to engage more than one manager’s service in their career. As a result, they include a statement that allows them to earn a commission from contracts that happened while they were the manager. This setting could be a pain in the neck for most artists as the new manager will also need to weigh in on the contract. Therefore, to protect the artist’s interest, there’s room for the “Sunset Clause,” which allows diminishing a former manager’s commission on previously signed and currently maintained contracts.

Conclusion : Music Artist Management Contract

These and a few other stuff from the content of a typical Music Artist Management Contract. If you need any of such services soon, you will have to understand these concepts and be on the lookout for them as soon as they hand you a contract. With a properly drafted contract, your music career will take a different turn towards greatness.