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Personal Managers: Artist Manager • Manager • Personal Manager


Managers direct all aspects of an artist's career, including record company issues, publishing, touring, marketing, publicity, business management, film and sound track work, sponsorships, endorsements, and other opportunities. Some managers secure recording and/or publishing contracts and are involved in the negotiations, either handling it themselves or, in most cases, working with the artist's attorney.


To succeed, you should have a well-rounded understanding of how the entire music industry works, and allies within its ranks. Generally, managers have one or two particular strengths, such as touring, publicity, publishing, recording, or legal backgrounds, and they then surround themselves with a team that has strengths where their own knowledge is weakest.


“A gift for communication and an ability to work with people on all different levels” facilitated Dixie Carter's success. “I have a creative mind and an ability to see opportunities. When things aren't going well for a client or for myself, I try to take what has happened and turn it around and make it an opportunity.”

“I think communication is without a doubt one of the strongest allies of anybody wanting to be a manager,” says Terry Elam. “It also takes determination: the ability to have your [butt] handed to you and not leave and never come back. Instead, go reattach your [butt] and come back the next day and go to work.”


Managers begin their day checking on the e-mail and incoming faxes that require a timely response. Throughout the day they talk with the artist's booking agency to discuss tour details, and field offers from the publicist for interviews and television appearances. They meet with the record company to strategize a marketing plan for an upcoming album, or to approve artwork for a CD or promotional piece. Some managers speak with radio stations to help move a record up the charts. They may work to secure a sponsorship deal, place a song in a film, or negotiate a new publishing deal. A manager is on call 24/7.


“If you're just starting out in the music business, find something that you're passionate about; something that excites you to where you're driving into work and you can't wait to get there. That's what a job is supposed to be.”—DC

“I set goals for myself all the time: goals for the week, goals for the month, for the quarter, the year, and where I want to be in five years. I think that helps you reward yourself on a weekly basis. You can see what you accomplished and what you need to go back and finish. It gives you points of reference for the year and sets standards for you to strive to achieve.”TE

“Without growing up in the business, the most effective way to break into the industry is with a good education, good communication skills, and strong people skills.”TE


“Expose yourself to as much about the industry as you can. Research your job. Research the people that you're interviewing with. Immerse yourself in trade publications and just soak up as much knowledge as possible.”—DC

“I'm a very, very strong believer in internships. I was a marketing major and a Spanish minor and didn't really know what I wanted to do. I interned for two years during college and was offered a job in an industry I love.”—DC

“My advice is to stay in school and get a college education. That is one thing I regret to this day, that I didn't finish and get my degree. Make a point of developing strong people skills, communication skills, math skills, and persevere. There is not a lot of money for many years in most service jobs. You have to be willing to sacrifice a great deal to get to a point where you're comfortable. You have to work really long hours. Stay in school, get your education, and come into the job as prepared as possible.”—TE



“The hours are long; it would be nice to get home a little earlier, but I really don't dislike any part of my job. I enjoy the people, I enjoy the musicians, I enjoy the artists, I enjoy the whole creative process.”TE


“I love when I'm able to not only gain success for my clients, which is a tremendous feeling of satisfaction, but when I'm able to take their celebrity and use it to help people, to really touch their hearts and do a lot of good things for people. A small gesture might make a sick kid's year, week, or life happier. To me, that is one of the greatest pleasures of this job.”DC

“Without a doubt, what I love most about my job is the music. Being able to hang with the musicians and artists, to see the world from their point of view. They can take an emotion or a thought and turn it into a piece of music. That is the reason I'm here.”TE

Dallas native Dixie Carter was a marketing major at Mississippi State University, unsure of what she wanted to do professionally, when a chance meeting set the direction of her future. The mother of a home town acquaintance recognized her name in the school newspaper. After finding out that Carter had promoted campus events and concerts, she suggested that Carter take an internship at the advertising agency where the woman worked. That agency turned out to be Levenson and Hill, Dallas’ largest advertising and public relations firm, where Carter interned during summers and Christmas breaks for two years. She was hired upon graduation in 1985.

“My first day on the job was working with Tom Hanks, Jackie Gleason, and Gary Marshall for the movie Nothing in Common.” Initially assigned to a variety of corporate and film accounts, she found her greatest satisfaction came from her involvement with the major marketing campaigns of music artists such as ZZ Top, Merle Haggard, and Tanya Tucker. Eventually, she was promoted to vice president and director of client services.

In 1993, Carter was approached to run PLA Media, which had offices in Los Angeles and Nashville. After much debate about leaving behind a great job, great salary, her family, her husband's employment, and a new home, she accepted. Just as she had severed her Dallas connections, the deal fell through and she was left hanging. Trusting in fate, she made the move to Nashville. “Tanya Tucker called me up and said, ‘I'll be your first client. You can handle my publicity and marketing.’ I didn't give myself time to think. I just packed up the U-Haul and moved to Nashville—it sounds a little like a bad country song—I started my company and hoped for success.” Within three months she picked up several new clients, hired three employees, and opened her own full-service promotion/publicity/marketing company: Trifecta Entertainment.

Through the course of building up a client list that included corporate accounts like CMT and Sony Music/Nashville, and artists like Naomi Judd and Tanya Tucker, Carter became aware of the need to include management among the services her firm offered. Hiring Andy Barton away from Chief Talent Agency in 1996 provided her with a partner in her management company. Together, the two have built a management roster that includes Take 6, Doug Stone, Michael English, and The Lynns. Carter and her company expanded into the world of professional wrestling and became TNA Entertainment LLC.


Terry Elam's musical career began on trumpet. After years of struggling to master the instrument—“I quickly found all the flat notes in that instrument”—at age 15 he switched to drums and joined a band. “It was a garage band. We worked at sock hops, the YMCA shows, and high school dances.” He continued to play in bands while attending the University of Tennessee Memphis. One of these groups landed a contract with Mercury Records and moved to New York City, but it fell apart a few years later. Back home in Memphis, Elam got a call from a friend who played guitar for singer Roy Orbison, and traveled to Nashville to audition for the band.

Hired as Orbison's percussionist in 1972, Elam spent the next four years observing the mistakes of a series of inept road managers. By 1976, he felt he could do a better job and, allowed the opportunity, took over the duties of road manager in addition to his role as musician. During Orbison's career slump, Elam also took on the responsibilities of working with the booking agency, something that a personal manager would ordinarily handle. He continued his dual roles throughout the artist's mid-1980s career resurgence, and worked with the estate following Orbison's death in 1988.

In 1989 an offer came for Elam to road manage fledgling country artist Vince Gill. Following a meeting with Gill's management team in Los Angeles, Elam set out on a tour bus in early 1990 with a seven-piece band, a skeleton road crew, and a then-struggling and almost unknown singer. Gill spent the beginning of the year working small club dates and opening for artists like Reba, Clint Black, and Randy Travis. His career took off when the single “When I Call Your Name” shot to number one, and he ended the year as a headliner. When Gill's management re-opened its Nashville office in 1995, Elam was brought in-house with both personal and road management responsibilities.

Elam shares management responsibilities of Gill with Larry Fitzgerald and Oliva Newton John with Mark Hartley and has previously managed Sherri Austin and Pam Tillis. The Fitzgerald Hartley roster includes Dwight Yoakam, Lee Ann Rimes, Brad Paisley, Kellie Pickler, Big Bad VooDoo Daddy, and Los Lobos. www.fitzhart.com

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Job Descriptions and Careers, Career and Job Opportunities, Career Search, and Career Choices and ProfilesCareers in the Music BusinessMANAGEMENT - Personal Managers: Artist Manager • Manager • Personal Manager, Manager Of Producers, Engineers, And Mixers