Music Promotions Manager

The Job and What's Involved

PR is vital to an artist's success. There are two distinct roles in music promotion: plugging artists' talents to the consumers that buy their music via the media (which is why many music promotion managers are known as pluggers); and promoting live music events.

Music promotional managers working on behalf of record labels and individual musicians and bands typically take on PR duties, such as:

  • Maintaining a network of music industry contacts, including journalists and editors of music magazines, newspaper music and arts sections, and music websites.
  • Deciding where to concentrate publicity efforts for an album launch, concert or other music venture.
  • Preparing and circulating press releases, artist biographies and promo (promotional) CD's.
  • Following up initial publicity activities by phone, email or in face-to-face meetings.
  • Drawing up concert guest lists.
  • Arranging publicity events, such as media interviews and personal appearances.
  • Escorting artists to publicity events.
  • Promoting clients' work to the broadcast media to make sure their music gets airtime on radio and TV shows.
  • Organising promotional photo sessions.
  • Collating records of press coverage.
  • Advising clients on the best timing for releasing a new single or album.
  • Constantly, through demos or gigs, seeking out new talent for the record label (known as A&R work - artists and repertoire).

In large record companies, some promotions managers specialise in marketing, while others spend their time supporting the artists and selecting new performers to sign. Music publishing companies also employ people in marketing, promotions and A&R roles to work alongside their songwriters and composers.

In comparison, concert promoters are more focused on:

  • Engaging talent and booking venues.
  • Preparing tour/concert budgets.
  • Paying deposits.
  • Arranging public liability and non-appearance insurance.
  • Marketing concerts/tours by advertising 'on sale' dates and, where necessary, designing and arranging marketing material, such as flyers and posters, that will appeal to the specific target audience for each show.
  • Monitoring ticket sales and adjusting advertising accordingly.
  • Ensuring lighting, security and stage equipment meets health and safety criteria.
  • Acounting for box office takings and making sure everyone is paid.

As well as liaising with booking agents, concert promoters may negotiate contracts, advise on legal matters and arrange appropriate entertainment licences.

Working hours vary for promotions managers. It can involve attending concerts in the evening or weekend, and dealing with the administrative aspects of the job and accompanying artists to events during the day.

Although office based, they may travel throughout the UK and possibly overseas when attending launches and music events. This can involve staying away from home for short durations. A driving licence can be useful.

New music industry entrants rarely start on more than £16,000 a year but established promotions managers may earn from £20,000 to £40,000 a year.

Those working for record labels may also earn a percentage of artists' earnings, linked to how often a track is played.

Getting Started with this Career Choice

Like most jobs in the music industry, music promotion can be hard to break into and the competition for vacancies is always strong.

The largest and most well-respected UK music promoters include AMP, Metropolis Music and Mean Fiddler. But there are also dozens of smaller, regional music promoters too, many of which specialise in a certain music genre or venue. Many venue promotional managers are self-employed. Doing gig promotions at college or for a local club or pub can help develop some marketable skills and insight about the live music experience.

Music pluggers typically work for music PR companies on behalf of recording labels and artists. There are both large (eg MBC and Coalition) and smaller, more niche music PR companies that represent artists.

Jobs and work experience placements are rarely advertised conventionally. People find out about them through word of mouth, which means it is important to network and build up a wide range of music industry contacts.

Education and Training

There is no one route into this type of work and no specific qualifications are needed. Practical work experience is often valued more by potential employers.

Typically, entrants start out in junior administrative positions with recording companies, venues or music PR firms, and get to really know the music industry before progressing into marketing, A&R or promotional work.

Relevant foundation degrees, BTEC Higher National Diplomas (HND's) and degrees are available at colleges and universities. A degree in music industry management (also with a marketing option) may provide the wider industry knowledge required. Available as both a full-time, three-year programme and five to six-year, part-time programme, applications are usually considered on an individual basis. Check entry requirements with individual course providers.

The Diploma in creative and media may be relevant for this area of work.

Other routes in could include:

  • Finding work placements with record companies or music PR agencies.
  • Promoting local bands.
  • Organising and promoting local gigs.
  • Writing gig reviews for local or student press.
  • Getting involved in student or community radio.

Experience in a related area, such as marketing, public relations, event organisation or advertising, could help. Knowledge of accounts and contract law is also valuable.

The Music Publishers Association (MPA) runs four induction courses each year for those new to, or seeking to enter, the music business.

A Few More Exams You Might Need

Training is mostly on the job and involves building on knowledge, experience and contacts already acquired.

The MPA and the Music Managers Forum (MMF) run a joint professional management development programme. There are five modules, each examining very different aspects of music management. Members of the MPA and MMF can also benefit from specialist seminars, workshops and networking opportunities.

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Skills and Personal Qualities Needed

Promotions managers should be:

  • Articulate, strong communicators, both in writing and verbally.
  • Confident, with good persuasion and negotiation skills.
  • Knowledgeable about music, trends and the wider listening tastes of audiences.
  • Able to work under pressure and take initiative.
  • Creative and brimming with commercially viable ideas.
  • Organised, with attention to detail.
  • Excellent networkers, able to adjust their approach to different personalities.
  • Positive in their attitude and work ethic.
  • Numerate, to calculate costs, profit margins and percentages.
  • Ambitious, with plenty of drive and persistence.

Your Long Term Prospects

There is no formal promotion structure. With experience, it may be possible to move to a larger organisation, taking on greater responsibilities or looking after the booking and publicity activities for major artists.

With enough industry contacts, it is possible to work freelance, or to move into related careers, such as booking or artist agent and artist or tour management.

Get Further Information

British Recorded Music Industry (BPI),
Riverside Building, County Hall,
Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7JA
Tel: 020 7803 1300

Concert Promoters Association,
6 St Mark's Road, Henley-on-Thames,
Oxfordshire RG9 1LJ
Tel: 01491 575060

MMF Training, PO Box 161,
Romiley, Stockport SK6 3WQ
Tel: 0161 430 8324

Music Managers Forum, British Music House,
26 Berners Street, London W1T 3LR
Tel: 0870 8507 800

Music Publishers Association (MPA),
6th Floor, British Music House,
26 Berners Street, London W1T 3LR
Tel: 020 7580 0126

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