Roles and responsibilities of your team

Depending on your where you are at to date with your music career, there are various team members you may have already have, or want to hire to help as you gain more success. The larger the artist, the larger your team is. It is important for you to know the roles of each of these companies/individuals before you get them involved in your career. Also to know what they can, and can’t do for you and your music. This will aid in you having a better knowledge to run your day to day as efficiently as possible, and knowing what to delegate to whom.

Artist Manager

Generally, a first team player to come on board. A good manager in the music industry is your best friend, however a bad manager can be the thorn in your side. An artist’s manager is their closest confidant, they look after everything to do with the artists personal, business, and artistic needs. The manager is the key point contact between you and the other team members, they must be prepared to negotiate with record labels, booking agents, publishers, lawyers, and basically everyone that will be involved in the artist or band’s affairs. If an artist does not have a tour manager, or label per say, a manager would step up and fill the role of a missing team member(s).  Management can be provided by a individual, or from a management firm. You want to make sure that your management and you generally see eye to eye on the big picture issues concerning your success and what it will take for you to get there. However, as an artist who is dealing with some items for the first time, you must trust in your manager if they have done this before, and to trust and allow them help to lead your career in the right direction . A manager only gets paid if the artist makes any money, their income is generally 15 – 20% net or gross depending on their deal and level of  success.


A&R stands for: Artist and Repertoire. Basically their main job is to over see your project and to find the best songs possible for you, and weed out any bad ones. Most often they represent a certain label client(s) and their role is also to try to find good talent to bring to the label for future signings. If you have a manager, they will reach out on your behalf to pitch you if you are unsigned. If you are independent, do your research and find who would be a good fit for you, contact the label to introduce yourselves to them, comp them tickets to an upcoming show, and send your social media links and a sample of your latest music. Having a label is very important to propel your career, they are essentially investors with highly important connections and contacts. Label’s can offer large assistance for advances to help pay for album, tour, video costs and more. An artist is responsible for recouping these costs back, as well a label will expect to be paid a % base on your earnings. Often their deals are negotiated with different percentages in different aspects of your career, example: 5% on touring, 10% on publishing, 50% on album sales etc (note these are not exact % and each deal is different based on the label and artist in negotiation)


Publishers are all about getting your songs out there and getting you (and themselves) money. They will work to license the songs and then sell specific types of licenses for specific mediums, i.e. TV, radio, sheet music, etc. After licensing or “selling” the song, they take a cut of the royalties collected and send the rest to the artist.  They are also responsible for registering your works with all the necessary royalty companies (ACTRA, SOCAN, BMI, CMRA etc etc) which can be a very daunting task as an independent artist. Having someone on board to register your works, and verifying the incoming totals are as they should be is very important! Often there is money just sitting there for artists, and they don’t even know it exists. This is where a Publisher or Publishing company will help. Publishing Companies often have percentage based deals and commission off of your publishing earnings anywhere from 4% – 25%.


A publicist handles all public and media relations concerning a band or artist. The publicist works hand in hand with the artist’s manager and label, to get your name and face in as many newspapers, magazines, online blogs etc. They also provide professional biography updates, and press releases around main events. It’s their job to know all of the details to do with the band before anyone else and releasing that information in a way that generates a lot of good publicity. They are the first line of communication between the artist and media apart from personal social media. Within the new age of twitter, Facebook, Instagram and whatever else, the publicist may or may not have control of each of those accounts or may have partial control. The biggest asset to a publicist is their connections, the more they have the better. It’s their job to create positive hype about you and your band, so the more people they can pitch you to, the better. Make sure your publicist is legit, it is well worth the price. Often, your label may have someone doing PR in house which allows you to not have to pay and outsource an individual or company as well which is a great perk to being signed. Publicists are often paid on a month to month basis when needed at the best times of your project.

Financial Manager

A financial manager is going to look after all matters that relate to your income and outcome of money. They’ll keep all of your accounts in order, send cheque’s to session musicians, make sure you’re taxes are done properly for your personal and business accounts, help in tour planning, pay your commissions to your team and much more. They will take the load off making sure that your financial needs are all taken care of, and advise you of what you need to do financially so that your head is clear to make beautiful sweet sweet music. Financial Managers often work on a percentage base of net income earned (4 – 10%)

Reference an older Q&A I have done with Janice Staub of  Yaletown Financial Management for more information here:

Booking Agent

A Booking Agent is hired to find you gigs, whether it’s for a international tour, or you need a few gigs near your hometown. It’s their job to find venues in whatever city, and make sure that both sides (venue and artist) hold up their end of the deal. The booking agent will often negotiate on behalf of the band or artist for their specific needs and guarantees. Booking Agents are often paid on a percentage basis of the income they are able to secure for you. (10 – 15%)

Tour Manager

Tour managers have the job of making sure the tour is running smoothly so that the artist manager doesn’t have to deal with all the small things. Tour managers are who takes care of booking all of the accommodation, transport, equipment and crew involved with the tour. The tour manager then travels with the band on the road, dealing with all the day-to day problems as they arise. They can also act as the accountant; producing budgets, picking up cash for performances and paying suppliers and other expenses as the tour progresses. Concert tour managers are usually freelance and are paid by the artist or artist’s management company from the tour funds. They work on a per show or weekly/monthly rate. The artist would cover all accommodation, travel, per diem, communication costs and other expenses in addition to their fee.

Have a look at this Q&A with my boss Chief, who was the Tour Manager for Nickelback for 10+ years:


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