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MMF calls for review of music managers’ role

A report published today (Friday 1 November) by the UK’s Music Managers Forum (MMF) calls for a review of how managers are remunerated, in line with their changing roles.

The report, ‘Managing Expectations’, was previewed on Thursday evening at the BBC Music Introducing Live event at Tobacco Dock in London.

The findings are drawn from surveys with over 180 music managers and interviews conducted with ie:music’s Tim Clark (Robbie Williams), Dirty Hit’s Jamie Oborne (the 1975), Eleven Management’s Niamh Byrne (Gorillaz) and Step Management’s Ellie Giles (Bill Ryder-Jones).

The report examines how managers support talent development; their relationships with record labels; the increasing diversity of managers; the expanding skill sets required; and challenges around mental health.

In particular, the document analyses the commercial sustainability of music managers, with 26% of survey respondents working another full- or part-time job in a different section of the music business and 56% earning less than £10,000 a year from music management.

“Against a fast-moving background of complexity and diversification, the way in which most managers get paid has remained stubbornly rigid,” writes MMF CEO Annabella Coldrick, “with the vast majority reliant on commission-based earnings – and typically of 20%.

“Against a fast-moving background of complexity and diversification, the way in which most managers get paid has remained stubbornly rigid”

“This is increasingly unsustainable, and with so many upcoming managers not making any money at all, we run the risk of losing many of these talented professionals altogether.”

The report outlines access to financing, support for mental health provision, diversification of skills, transparency of income streams and new commercial models as the five main barriers that “may prevent music managers and their clients from reaching their potential.”

“The goal of this report is to better explain what a modern day music manager actually does and enhance understanding of how this has changed in the digital age,” comments Coldrick.

“We will use the findings to better advocate for our members’ interests and expand our activity on the critical areas identified and to initiate discussions with our clients and partners on new business models in management.”

As a step to alleviating the challenges highlighted in the report, the MMF this year launched the Accelerator Programme for Music Managers, which has so far supported 24 managers. The beneficiaries of the 2020 programme will be announced soon.

The full report can be read here.


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