When you’re building your team as an artist, or exploring the world of industry career options, you want to make sure you know who is who in this industry. For instance, as a publicist I’m often confused as having the same duties as someone in marketing. A booking agent and promoter are often used interchangeably when in reality, their jobs are very different.
We’ve compiled a list of some of the most well-known careers in the industry and a brief run-down of what each entails. The industry and its career options are always growing, so if you don’t see a role that seems like a fit for you just yet, don’t give up. There’s plenty of us in this industry who have created a non-defined role all our own—in the meantime, check out our list.
I’ve found the definition of management seems to vary pretty heavily depending on who you talk to, how big a band you are, and what you’re each willing to do. A manager for a major artist is not the same as a manager for an indie artist.
However, in a nutshell, it’s the manager’s job to keep the artist’s career on track. To advise them in their decisions and partnerships, to tell them what’s working, and to tell them what needs improvement. Some managers keep it to an advisory/connection role, while others go above and beyond to also book shows and coordinate press.
These are the people mixing your songs and making them sound the way you want them to.
A publicist’s job is to connect you with opportunities for exposure. Usually for indie artists this can be in the form of digital and occasionally print interviews, features, and other stories. Their job isn’t to increase your sales or numbers–that’s advertising. Instead, it’s to bring awareness to your brand via securing features. When it comes to PR for major label artists, this can also include approving and denying press requests, and managing their artist’s public appearance.
Social Media Marketing
This job description can vary a little depending on what exactly you’re doing and on what scale, but the social media manager can do anything from advise smaller bands on their marketing and ads strategies, to running a label or major artist’s social media accounts.
A publisher is the person who connects songs with opportunities. And money. They’re the ones who make sure artists are receiving payments for everything from placements to royalties.
This is the person responsible for placing songs into film, TV, and other forms of media. They figure out what song fits best where, and then they make it happen. You can thank them for that really emotional scene in your favorite movie where the music fits the moment to a T.
I’ve definitely been guilty of confusing a promoter and a booking agent in my early days of the industry. So here’s the gist. A booking agent is the person booking your tour, making sure you get paid, and trying to get you a good spot on the lineup. They’re usually paid a percentage of whatever you make on stage that night, which means you probably need to be making money before they’re interested.
A promoter on the other hand works with the booking agent to organize all the little details of the show, like getting you paid, making sure to move ticket sales, things like that. They’re also the ones organizing recurring nights at clubs (IE: Emo Night, 80s Night, etc).
Booking agents and promoters tend to work closely together, and a good booking agent will know to target venues that make sense for your long term growth. For instance, if Club A is handled by Promoter X, who throws a lot of local shows but also hosts a major festival once a year, that’s a good spot to get in.
Everyone wants to be discovered by someone in A&R, right? People tend to know A&R as the people responsible for bringing new talent on to a label, but as the industry has evolved, so has that role.
A&R is responsible for a lot more than just spotting talent. They’re involved in developing the artist from start to finish—which means delivering the good news as well as being comfortable offering critique.
Sort of like the publicist of radio, your radio promoter is the one with direct connection to getting your song on radio. For indie artists, this is usually college stations and similar.
Tour managers are what keep the tour from going completely haywire. They have to be great at organizing and juggling assignments, as they’re the ones who make sure you get to all your commitments day of. (IE if you have a press interview and a meet and greet, they make sure you get to those on time). They’re also the ones making sure your hotel room is all set, the venue has what you need, etc. They’re sort of your tour lifeline.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.