Music agent career

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Jane Milton works as an artist manager in her own company. She has five classical musicians on her books, mostly conductors and solo instrumentalists, and is responsible for managing all aspects of their careers.

What does your job involve?

I market and promote the musicians, helping them to find the right engagements at the right time to help further their career. This involves creating a development plan for each musician which involves finding the right orchestra or musician's group for them to work with. It is important that the company they play with has similar music tastes as well.

How do you do this?

Initially we meet to discuss which musicians, orchestras, opera houses or festivals they have already worked with. Establishing their musical interests is also very important, as well as the countries they have worked in.

What advice do you give?

I might suggest that they work with more regional orchestras in the next two years, and then aim for orchestras abroad, perhaps in Japan, the Far East or Australia. Regular meetings with the artistic administrators of orchestras and music promoters are important, both to find out their future plans and to represent my artists. Sometimes, I may be called on to advise on the specific pieces of music to include on an orchestra's play list, or which conductor to put with which soloist musician.

What hours do you work?

I work from Monday to Friday, starting at 9am and usually finishing by 7pm, although I often attend concerts in the evening and at weekends.

What personal qualities and skills do you need for this work?

A passion for classical music, alongside an in-depth knowledge, is essential. You will also need excellent communication skills to enable you to develop lots of contacts in the industry. I have a degree in music, which is a great advantage, though not essential. Languages, such as German, Italian, French and Spanish, are a distinct advantage.

What do you like about your job?

I love meeting like-minded people all over the world. I also enjoy the contact with the artists, and contributing ideas for adding different pieces of music to a musician's play list. Being so close to the world of performing is exciting.

What challenges exist in the job?

There is always the threat that another company may poach an artist you have spent years working with. It can also be difficult to find an artist a suitable position at the right level. Establishing the respect of musicians is also a challenge, as well as helping them to understand my role.

Where do you see your future?

I hope to grow and develop this business, to take on more artists at an even higher level, and to develop other complimentary projects.

Jane's route

  • A levels.
  • Receptionist and marketing assistant at a record company (gap year).
  • Degree in Music.
  • Work experience whilst at university with an artist management company.
  • Artist manager in agency.
  • Partner in own company.

Jane's tips

  • Try to obtain work experience with an artist management company – send letters to a named contact.
  • Develop your knowledge of classical music, and foreign languages.

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Salary information

  • There are no set scales for this work, and the pay can be low at the beginning of your career.
  • An assistant artist manager might earn between £13,000 and £19,000, rising to £40,000 with experience.

Getting in

  • A music degree is not essential for this work, but most people are graduates now.Work experience is essential.
  • This is a highly competitive field of work where initiative and drive are essential qualities.
  • You will need to enter this work in a junior capacity and work your way up.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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