The artist management contract can be intimidating for aspiring musicians as it contains numerous legal terms, obligations, and restrictions.

However, with the right guidance, you can effectively protect your interests and navigate this contract.

This article will explore the intricacies of music industry management deals.

Defining the Deal: Who’s Who and What’s What

In any contract, a crucial aspect is understanding the parties involved. Let’s clarify:

The Artist (You): The creative force behind the music. You write the songs, perform live, and connect with your fans.

The Manager: Your trusted partner, mentor, and problem solver. They oversee your career, identify opportunities, and handle the business side, allowing you to concentrate on your art.

The Label: The music industry powerhouse. They collaborate with you to record, produce, promote, and distribute your albums.

The Publisher: Your song’s advocate. They license and promote your compositions for placements in various media like ads, TV shows, and movies.

Building a successful music career involves working with agents, promoters, and others, but the manager plays a central role, so we’ll focus on that relationship.

Understanding Key Sections of the Management Contract

Management contracts come with several critical sections you should familiarize yourself with:


“Term” defines the duration of your partnership with the manager.

Standard terms typically span 1-3 years, although some may aim for longer commitments.

Consider negotiating a shorter initial term, like one year, to maintain flexibility if the partnership doesn’t work out.


“Territory” refers to the geographical area where your manager operates on your behalf.

Starting with a narrower territory can be wise, especially if your manager’s track record is unproven.

You can expand it gradually as their effectiveness becomes evident.


Exclusivity outlines whether your manager has exclusive rights to represent you.

An exclusive deal means you cannot engage other managers during the contract term, which is reasonable.

Be vigilant about any clauses allowing your manager to represent other artists simultaneously.

Ensure you receive sufficient dedicated time and attention.


Compensation addresses the financial aspect of your agreement.

Managers typically receive 15-20% of your earnings, with their percentage increasing as your career progresses.

Consider negotiating a lower percentage initially and then gradually adjusting it upwards as your success grows.

This aligns your manager’s interests with your own.


The services section outlines the specific responsibilities and tasks your manager will perform.

Provide comprehensive details, covering everything from creative guidance to handling your schedule and finances. Clarity is essential.


The approvals clause defines the extent of your manager’s decision-making authority.

Ensure you retain decision-making power for significant matters, such as contracts and substantial expenses.

Grant them more autonomy for day-to-day tasks to streamline workflow and preserve your creative focus.

Negotiation No-Nos: Don’t Get Played

A management deal is a partnership that requires compromise, but protecting your interests is essential. Here are some clauses to be cautious about:

Coterminous: This ties the length of your management deal to your record deal. For example, if you sign a 5-year record contract, your manager will represent you for five years.

The Double Dip: This allows your manager to collect a commission twice on the same earnings, like taking a percentage from both your album advance and royalties.

Automatic Renewal: This extends your contract without requiring your consent. Remember, your manager should have your permission to continue representing you.

360 Deal: This grants your manager a share of all your earnings, even those unrelated to entertainment. Be cautious and consider alternatives.

Boilerplate Agreement: Avoid using generic, one-size-fits-all contracts. Customize the agreement to meet your specific needs and circumstances.

When Good Managers Go Bad: Exit Strategies

If a working relationship deteriorates, it’s essential to have a contingency plan in place:

Short-Term Commitment: Initially, opt for a 1-2 year contract to maintain flexibility in case of a need for separation.

Termination Clause: Establish clear conditions for an early contract termination. This can also include a sunset provision, enabling your manager to receive a phased-out commission.

Buyout Option: Consider a negotiated fee to terminate the contract before its intended conclusion. While this can be costly, it may prove worthwhile.

Morals Clause: Include a provision that permits you to exit the contract if your manager engages in questionable or unethical conduct that could harm your reputation.

Material Breach: If your manager substantially violates the contract terms, you should have the right to terminate. Typically, this requires providing written notice and allowing time for corrective action.

Conclusion: Let’s Make a Deal!

While giving up a portion of your income may seem substantial, a skilled manager can be invaluable to your career.

Take your time when evaluating potential partners to find someone you connect with.

Remember that a management contract signifies the beginning of a vital relationship in your music journey.

Ensure that you comprehend and negotiate every detail to safeguard your interests.

The music industry can be challenging, with many pitfalls. However, with the right guidance and diligence, you can navigate the industry successfully and thrive alongside the established players.

So, aim for a manager like Brian Epstein and avoid the industry’s pitfalls, leaving behind the Allen Kleins of the world.

Categorized in:

Tagged in:

, ,