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Careers in the music business/management industry

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by maxxxie, Oct 25, 2015.

  1. Background (skip to the TL;DR section if that suits you better): I'm at IT professional who's been in the IT business around 20 years. I was made redundant in June and have been living a life of leisure since. I know I don't want to go back to IT, but I don't have any firm ideas about what to do next. Much as I'd like it to be, not working ever again isn't an option. So I need to find a career that'll see me through the next 20-something years until I can retire.

    I have a friend who's a drummer in a three-piece reggae/funk originals band. Six weeks ago, I went to one of their gigs, an outdoor thing in support of the local Pride Day celebrations. They were really good! Because I was hanging out with my friend, who is also the band's leader/organiser, I got to see some of the "behind the scenes" stuff that goes on. I stood next to her while she had conversations with the stage manager and sound guys, and also while she chatted with the other band members and their girlfriends. In all of this, I got to see, also, just how badly-managed a band can be. With no disrespect to my friend, who's doing the best she can, I felt like she really didn't do a good job of organising things. To give some examples:
    1. They were trying to sell their CDs at a table next to the stage. They had no petty cash, so they couldn't give people change. I ended up giving them the small notes from my wallet so that they could actually do business.
    2. They had no fliers or cards or anything to give out to the audience.
    3. Between songs, the singer made reference to their web site. Unfortunately, their web site doesn't work, and even now, many weeks after I informed her of this, it still doesn't work.
    4. He also mentioned their Facebook page, which hasn't been updated since that gig... six weeks ago. I know they've played gigs since, so why no updates? There are month-long gaps in between their Facebook posts.
    5. After their performance, my friend chatted with the stage manager, who name-dropped that she has previously done stage management for well-known local gigs (e.g. the Byron Bay Bluesfest); that she introduced bands to her connections, and that through those connections, the bands became big (whatever her interpretation of "big" might be); said that she had many contacts in the business etc etc. My friend's response was words along the lines of "Great, because I don't know anyone in this city, can you email me?" I was gobsmacked. This is not how you do business! You don't ask very busy people to email you! You get in touch with them yourself! You get their card! Their email! You call them a few days later to start making contacts! You don't just passively wait around for opportunities to come knocking!

    There were other things I noticed and felt could really be improved upon, but these are the big ones. Now, I know my friend and her bandmates have lives outside the band, so I don't begrudge how disorganised they are. But she has previously mentioned to me that she's tired of carrying the burden of organising gigs, organising her bandmates, getting things done. Basically, she doesn't like the "business" part of the music business.

    This made me think about career opportunities in the music industry. Band management is the obvious one here, but I'm sure there's plenty of others that fall into the business/management category. Although my background is IT, much of the last ten years has been project management, which I feel has given me some insight about how to get things done. I think this is a transferable skill, and it might be applicable to business/management roles in the music industry. That said, I get the sense that much of the band management stuff relies upon connections and requires a certain personality type (outgoing, likes people etc), and that might not make it a good fit for me. But there must be other jobs in the business that I could do, right?

    I need advice from TB members!! Are you in the industry? Can you tell me about management/business jobs in the music business please? If you could answer my questions below, and add anything else you think is relevant, I'd really appreciate it.

    TL;DR: I'm thinking of a job in the music business, and need some real-world input from people who are doing it (or have done it) to see if it's the life for me.

    Can you answer these questions please?
    • What jobs exist in this field?
    • What jobs have you actually done?
    • What qualifications are required?
    • Average pay
    • Skills required
    • Personality traits required
    • How'd you get into it?
    • Hours (time of day and actual hours worked per week)
    • Pros
    • Cons
    • Lifestyle
    • Anything else you think is relevant

    Thanks in advance, my TB friends. :)

  2. Torrente Cro

    Torrente Cro

    Sep 5, 2013
    I also work in IT industry, and sometimes I feel like I had enough.
    Although I enjoy music much more than software development, I'm worse bass player than programmer. That's why I'll stick with that, I must follow my talents.
  3. Torrente Cro

    Torrente Cro

    Sep 5, 2013
    And money is better, of course ;-)
  4. I'm also a (much) worse bass player than what I do in IT. That's why I would never even try a career in playing music. But the business side, sure. :)

  5. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    It's business. The jobs are there. But lots of people trying to get in, so unless you have some serious contacts, expect more competition and less money than an equivalent position in a less "glamourous" industry.
  6. That's great, thank you. But one of my questions was "what jobs are out there?" I'm asking for direction. Do you have direct experience in any of the business side of the music industry? If so, can you elaborate?

  7. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I have clients who are in the industry (I'm an attorney). The same issues come up as in any other business. Sorry, that's what I can add.
    maxxxie likes this.
  8. manfish


    Aug 2, 2005
    City Of Angels
    Hi Maxxxie, Weve just launched a label here in LA with acts that all have great potential in their genres - markets. We have some "name" players involved which helps as well. As a 360 business, there are many areas which run the gamut of industry functions incl artist management, A&R, project management, marketing, promo, merchandising, finance, touring, video. publishing, etc... Aside from being active players we are writers and producers so many potential income streams. If youre interested, please go to MAJOR | Rock & Roll | Home and lets talk. Maybe we could work together. Im at [email protected] Cheers! Steve
    maxxxie likes this.
  9. whatizitman


    Sep 9, 2014
    Can't give specific answers or figures. But I will say that I perceive the music biz to follow most of the entertainment business world in general. Compared to IT, for example, jobs are far less static and defined. Most people work for peanuts (again, in comparison), and tend to work their way in project by project, networking and building relationships. Most (I think) are not working for big firms with big budgets, union contracts, etc..., but likely for local acts, and/or in conjunction with promotional and events companies, and basically anyone involved in some sort of media biz.

    The music biz is extremely cutthroat - too many people want a piece of an ever-shrinking pie. So many people are out to make a quick buck, and have no problem throwing people under the bus to get what they want. A huge chunk frankly make their living preying on the creators and anyone looking to "make it" with their art.

    I'd wager that what OP observed is not uncommon - entertainment production is akin to herding cats. If you like managing crazy 24/7, then find a project or two, and wiggle your way in. You'll know soon enough if it's what you want.

    That being said.... Not just project management is transferrable. If you have any appreciable skills in web development (app, design, stack/backend), I'm sure you can make a path for yourself. Music biz absolutely requires internet nowadays, period.
    maxxxie likes this.
  10. Thank you to everyone who's posted responses to this thread. There's been lots of really interesting insights. It's given me a lot to think about!

  11. Primary

    Primary TB Assistant

    Here are some related products that TB members are talking about. Clicking on a product will take you to TB’s partner, Primary, where you can find links to TB discussions about these products.

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