Promotions managers are responsible for encouraging sales within the music industry. Other job titles that may be used include plugger, music agent or promoter. They may work for individual artists/bands, a record company or a venue.
There are a number of different areas within music promotions and publishing, including artists and repertoire (A&R – signing and promoting music acts), copyright and legal matters, production, sales and marketing and accounts. You could be:
- listening to new performers and deciding whether to take them on
- negotiating contracts and advising your clients on legal matters, such as copyright
- arranging with radio stations and TV channels such as MTV to broadcast your clients’ music (known as 'plugging')
- writing press releases and producing promotional CDs and DVDs
- arranging publicity events such as newspaper or TV interviews
- working with designers and printers to produce marketing material such as posters and leaflets
- organising one-off gigs or full tours for your clients, nationally or abroad
- keeping the accounts, staying within the budget
- networking with other professionals in the entertainment industry to make contacts.
You would usually specialise in one area. For example, if you work for a venue, as a concert promoter, you could be:
- attending performances to scout for acts for your venue
- contacting performers or their agents and booking dates
- keeping the venue diary full for weeks ahead while avoiding double bookings
- arranging to produce and distribute marketing material
- getting the entertainments licence
- organising technical equipment and security
- finding a replacement act if a performer cancels.
Pay varies widely in this kind of work. The following figures are only a guide.
- As a new entrant building up contacts you might earn between £13,000 and £16,000 a year.
- Once established as a promotions manager you can earn from £20,000 to £40,000 a year.
- If exceptionally successful, you might reach £70,000 a year or more.
Your income may be partly or entirely through commission, based on a percentage of your clients' earnings (usually 15-20%), or on how many times a particular track is played. You might get perks such as free CDs, DVDs, downloads, concert tickets and other promotional gifts.
- Hours are irregular, can be long and include evenings and weekends.
- The job involves travelling and overnight stays, perhaps abroad.
- Promotions managers are office based but spend time in noisy venues.
- Work may be on a freelance (self-employed) basis or short contracts.
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- Entry is very competitive and getting in largely depends on making contacts in the industry.
- Knowledge and experience of the music world matter more than educational qualifications.
- It helps if you have experience of working on events – perhaps a holiday job or organising social events at college or university.
- Useful subjects to study at college or from home include popular music, marketing, communications, the mass media, accounts and contract law. There are courses available at various levels: National Certificate (NC), National Qualification (NQ), Higher National Certificate (HNC), Higher National Diploma (HND) or degree level.
- A number of colleges in Scotland offer HNC, HND and degree courses in music business: Edinburgh College, Glasgow Kelvin College, Perth College UHI, West College Scotland and the University of the Highlands and Islands.
- To get on an HNC/HND course you normally need 1-2 Highers or equivalent and entry requirements for a degree are 4-5 Highers.
- You might start as an unpaid intern, through volunteering or in a junior position doing general duties.
- A driving licence is useful and sometimes necessary.
- Health and safety and first aid certificates are useful.
The UK is the second largest source of repertoire in the world (after USA) and is the third largest market in the world for sales of music.
You might start off in a junior administration job or as a runner (see the Runner job profile) within a radio, television or record company and watch out for a vacancy arising in a relevant department, such as marketing.
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Job Outlook Scotland
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Job Outlook Scotland and UK
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What Does it Take?
You should have:
- good business sense
- excellent negotiation and networking skills
- a good ear for music
- confidence and assertiveness
- the ability to work under pressure
- excellent knowledge of modern music or else of a specialist field of music
- good organisational skills.
You should also be:
- passionate about music
- energetic, motivated and driven
- resilient and persistent.
- Training is mainly on the job.
- The Music Managers' Forum (MMF) offers those in the business advice, workshops, networking opportunities, and a range of short courses from MMF Training.
- Success depends on making a wide range of contacts in the music industry. Once you have managed this, you might work freelance.
- You could go on to specialise in a particular field, such as legal advice.
The Creative and Cultural Skills website has a careers section called Creative Choices which covers information, jobs and opportunities in music, including promotions.
The British Recorded Music Industry (BPI) website has a careers section with information and videos on careers in the music industry.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
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