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What is the single most important aspect of the music industry an artist manager needs to understand?

Melissa King – Tour/Production Manager (Weird Al, The Scorpions)

I find your question very interesting. It is very difficult to say that there is one thing that is more important than another for a manager to understand. Being an Artist Manager is a complex balance of business and personal relationships.

“For the most part, anyone can learn the legalities, how to read a contract, write a contract, make sure production is covered, figure out budgets and make the connections and relationships with other industry personnel to further your artist’s career.

“I think that the most important aspect that a good manager needs to understand is their actual artist. On a certain level it has to be more than just business. Although you don’t want to get too close personally where it affects your ability to manage the artist, you do need to be able to listen and understand where your artist is coming from when they express concerns or issues with any aspect of what is going on with their career. You need to be able to truly hear what they are saying and look at it as objectively as you possibly can.

“I believe that to make a relationship work in this business you need to be able to accept that there are times your artist is not going to want to do something that may be beneficial to their career. You need to be able to listen to their objections and communicate property with them to come to a compromise about the situation.

“Let’s face it – artists are not going to always do what we think is in their best interest. Who knows after speaking with them about it we may discover they were right to feel that way and change our opinion of the situation.

It is very important to have that open communication so that you know when something is or isn’t working for your artist. So that your artist does not have a problem coming to you to discuss issues they are having. I believe that as long as you have that degree of communication, you and your artist, can forge a bond that will make both of your careers successful and be able to be happy in a very stressful industry.”

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Professor David Philp is Assistant Professor Music Management & Popular Music Studies at William Paterson University. He is the co-host of the only FREE advice college radio-based music & entertainment industry talk show in America, Music Biz 101 & More, which airs live most Wednesday nights and is available as a podcast HERE every night (days too).  Your favorite professor is also co-author (with Dr. Steve Marcone) of Managing Your Band – 6th Edition.  Reach him at or find him on LinkedIn HERE.

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