The Difference Between a Music Manager and a Talent Agent

The Difference Between a Music Manager and a Talent Agent

The music industry is a diverse field. There are a lot of different roles, positions, and people in the background. For a solo act or band, one of the most important people in your life will be your music manager. This should not be confused with a talent agent. There are some major differences between these two jobs.

While a music manager often takes on multiple roles, they are not a talent agent. Discover some of the main differences between the two, in order to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Agents Need to Be Licensed

The first difference is that agents need to be licensed by the state where they operate. Anyone can become a manager and get involved in music promotion. But, a talent agent will need to through an application process. They will need to become licensed in order to legally negotiate contracts on your behalf.

Agents Can Legally Negotiate Contracts

While band managers are often involved in the negotiation process, they are not supposed to be directly involved. This is a gray area and the lines can get blurred. If you have a music manager and no agent, your manager can help you get what you want out of a contract, but the specifics of the contract are supposed to come from your mouth.

Agents Work with an Agency

Another difference is that a talent agent works with an agency. These agencies have established a long list of contacts and can regularly help their agents find work for their clients. If you are working with a booking agent, they may have a greater ability to book shows than your manager. Though, this depends on their area of specialty.

Some agents regularly work with the same festivals and venues year after year. They can solicit bookings on your behalf and handle the negotiations.

Agents Often Charge a Lower Commission

Talent agents are typically limited to 10 percent of your earnings. In most states, they cannot legally require a higher commission fee. This is a part of their regulations and laws – which is why they are licensed.

Managers do not have these restrictions. They could technically ask for any commission they want. Though, the acceptable range is between 10 and 15 percent.

You should never partner with an agent or a manager that asks for money upfront. Managers and agents should only work on commission.

Why Should You Hire a Music Manager?

So, why should you hire a music manager instead of a talent agent? Talent agents primarily work in film, advertisement, and television. They are in the business of helping people get on camera. Though, this is not always the case.

Larger acts and established musicians often hire agents to handle event booking and promotion. They may also work with a publisher to release music. This could also help you get signed.

Take a look at this short video with Capitol Music Group COO Michelle Jubelirer discussing the benefits of having a manager, agent, and lawyer when negotiating a recording contract:

While having a large team working for you is not required, it can be beneficial. Though, for starters, you can focus on obtaining a music manager.

A manager is primarily responsible for providing career advice. They may also offer financial advice and other recommendations. On occasion, they can also act as an intermediary between you and a record label, a booking agent, and publishers.

Managers Have Smaller Client Lists

Also, they tend to have a much smaller client list compared to agents. While an agent may have hundreds of clients, a manager will often have a dozen or two clients. Your manager will be able to spend more time helping you succeed. They also have a greater interest in your success.

Managers Can Help You Establish Your Act

Talent agents have less to do with the creative side of your career. Music managers, on the other hand, can help mold your career or point you in the right direction. While you will not need a music manager until you have already started building a fan base, a manager can help you further your career in ways that a talent agent can’t or won’t.

A manager can help you with your social media presence. They can offer recommendations for improving your stage presence.

Managers Have a Diverse Set of Roles

Another reason for hiring a manager is that they have a wide range of roles. Again, their main job is to give you career advice. But, many of their regular tasks overlap with the duties of a talent agent. As mentioned, they can help you get what you want during contract negotiations. They can also book gigs and find venues for you to play.

How to Get a Music Manager

You should not worry about getting a music manager until you have already steered your career on your own for a while. A decent manager will not generally be interested in a new music act or an indie artist that has no fan base.

Focus on managing your own music career and then work towards finding the right manager. To get you started, we have a guide that will teach you 22 steps to attracting the right music manager.

Check Out the Complete Music Management for Indie Artists Guide Today!

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