RM University: Music Business 101

Interested in the Music Business at all? RM Girl Shae is here to give you some quick facts and tips about the things you need to know. Read below to get a crash course into the business side of the music world!

Raise your hand if you know there’s more to the music business than being in a band or being a music teacher? Okay… that doesn’t really help because I can’t see you. Still! I’m going to give you a quick rundown on things related to the music business and if you like it, maybe I’ll go more in depth in future publications. Are you ready? Grab your pen and pencil! Just kidding, it won’t be that in depth. Here we go.


These are just a few of the more common positions available to you in the music industry, plus a short description. You may have heard these titles before but not necessarily have known what they do, exactly. That’s what I’m here for.

  • Promoter – this is the person who serves as the middle man between booking agents and venues. The promoter secures the venues for tours and handles all the promotion and distribution of flyers. On the day of the show, the promoter ensures the performing acts have everything they need. They are also responsible for paying the artist. Promoters work in local areas and are not committed to one band.
  • Journalist – now what could this be? Oh! Exactly what we here at Remember MEdia do! This is the prime career for someone who is always in the know about all things music and entertainment. In this position, you’ll have to be comfortable with research and editorial skills and you MUST be good about working on a deadline. News is a time sensitive thing.
  • Booking Agent – You represent the artist and try to sell shows to various promoters. The booking agent is the one who routes the tour; they for the most part control what dates, cities and venues the tour reaches.
  • Manager – “Let me ask my manager.” That’s one commonly heard phrase in this business. The artist manager is the one that handles all the business tasks that come with being in a band so that the artists can focus on the creative side and their performances. The manager is usually the go to contact between the band and labels, venues, merchandisers, you name it. The manager is in the “know”. Sometimes it may seem like bands don’t know anything when you ask them about upcoming dates or when this will be announced or when that’ll be released. And they truthfully probably don’t know! It’s the artist manager’s job to hand the scheduling of important things. The artist just has to show up!
  • Tour Manager – This is the person that keeps the whole band on track for the duration of the tour. You may think of this position as the babysitter. You are responsible for getting the band from point A to point B on time and in one piece. You make sure you don’t leave the drummer at the gas station or the bass guitar at the last venue you play. You handle the day to day scheduling of artists, including any press functions they may have planned such as interviews or photo shoots. The tour manager is responsible for lodging, financials, merchandising and transportation. This is the person that has the key to the artist’s hotel room so they don’t lose it and the one with the number to the nearest pizza delivery service. They know where the bus is parked and they know when everyone needs to be back on said bus at the end of the night.
  • Publicist – You’re responsible for all the press and publications surrounding an artist. You’re probably social media savvy so that you can track any and all mentions of your artist, good or bad. You’re the one that sends the press releases and provides exclusive content to reputable sources for review. You land your artist that cover page spot or the three page story. Your sole purpose is to promote the artist’s name and gain them more exposure. You probably have an interest in looking at demographics and psychographics, and you probably know the leading entertainment press outlets at any given point in time.
  • Publisher – This position is getting into the more legal side of things. As a publisher, you’re responsible for securing rights to songs for your artists to use as well as handling licensing for anyone who wishes to use your artists’ songs. In most cases, a publisher will work for a larger company, often in house at a record label where they’ll be responsible for all acts on the roster.
  • Merchandise Manager – “The Merch Guy/Girl”, also commonly thought to be a band member’s significant other. Oh no no no. You are so much more than that. You decide what gets printed and how much gets printed. You stay on top of inventory levels and order as needed. You negotiate with merchandisers for competitive printing rates. There’s some book work associated with this position, too, as you’ve got to keep a log of what you’re selling each night.
  • A&R – Some say A&R is a dying position, but many believe it’s just evolving. A&R stands for Artist & Repertoire. You find new talent and pitch them to a record label, but your job doesn’t stop there. After you’ve pitched them and gotten them signed, your tasks turn to artist development. You’ve got to figure out what your artist’s strengths and weaknesses are and then work on the weaknesses. Do you need a photoshoot? Do you need to practice your live set? Has your artist ever experienced touring before? It’s your job to build them up from a baby band to a fully oiled machine.
  • Music Attorney – If law school is your thing, don’t think you can’t be involved in the music industry. There’s so many opportunities for lawyers in our world. You’ll probably have to deal with a lot of cases pertaining to copyright and whether or not an artist is allowed to do something or not, as well as defending your clients in instances where maybe there music has been stolen. Music Attorneys also handle instances where artists aren’t receiving the royalties owed to them. You review contracts and settle trademark disputes. So you’re still involved in the music business, but you’re getting a lawyer’s paycheck. Not bad.
  • Music Supervisor – Ever wonder who’s picking the music for your favorite tv show or movie? This person is! There’s so many different tasks associated with this position. Not only is it your job to find talent to use in productions, but you’ve got to sync it with the right scenes at the right time. You’ve also got to secure your licenses and make sure you have the rights to even use these songs. Now, licenses cost money, so if you’re working on a budget, you’ve got to learn how to find the sound you want with a song that’s in your price range. Not so easy anymore, huh? You might think “Don’t Stop Believing” is the perfect song for a scene, but your indie project can’t afford to license that. Quick. Name a song you could use in place of “Don’t Stop Believing” that has the same feel to it.

A great resource to check out for even more music related jobs is getinmedia.com

It’s important to know that while these are all positions in the music industry, when you’re working with smaller acts, a lot of the responsibilities overlap. The artist manager may also be the booking agent, the merchandise manager, and the publicist. So be prepared to take on multiple roles and never settle into the thought that “that’s not your job.”

For the Readers: These are some great books to pick up

  • All You Need To Know About the Music Business – Donald Passman
  • Artist Management for the Music Business – Paul Allen
  • The Tour Book: How To Get Your Music On The Road – Andy Reynolds






Like this article? Comment, like it on Facebook, Favorite the tweet… engage with it so we know to keep posting more! Any questions can be sent to the RM social media accounts or Shae’s personal accounts, @ShaeEliz. You can also email her at shae.b@remembermedia.com

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