Alternate Career Titles:
Career Overview: Manages the finances of musicians and entertainers.
Career Salary Range: $25,000 to $1,000,000+
Become a Business Manager
The Business Manager handles financial affairs for Recording Artists. He or she might have one or more clients, and it’s useful to point out that those acts that hire Business Managers are usually doing well financially.
The Business Manager oversees finances in order to maximize earning potential. They must collect all monies due, while paying all the bills. Other duties include negotiating with Agents and/or Representatives for contracts and appearances or negotiating with union officials, TV Producers, motion picture studios, concert halls, record companies (looking for a current list of contacts at record labels?), merchandising firms, publishing companies, and more.
Seeking out firms, companies, and corporations that will want the Artist for endorsements is not outside of the realm of responsibilities for the Business Manager. Then, after the act has performed to the contract, the Business Manager will make sure they are paid promptly. If any contractual issues arise, the Business Manager may act as a liaison, and may even go as far as to request audits of firms with which the act has been working. Also, the Business Manager checks all bills and invoices to make sure they accurately reflect expenses, and then they pay. The same sometimes holds true for the Artist’s personal bills.
It is important that a clean record of payment history is kept, because it is up to the Business Manager to plan and stick to budgets for the group and individual members. Taking the handling of finances a step further, the Business Manager might act as an adviser counseling acts on investments, tax dealings (such as with 1040A forms and expense tracking), legal matters, and other items, although they often partner with Music Business Accountants in these matters. He or she will regularly summarize and send investment, property, and financial status statements to the client.
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Salaries for the Business Manager will most likely vary from year to year, with new Business Managers earning around $25,000 per year. Experienced, successful managers can earn up to $1,000,000 or more, depending on the number of clients he or she has, geographical location, etc. This salary is made up of fees the Business Manager charges, including a percentage of the act’s total gross income. Some Business Managers charge a retainer or a flat hourly fee as well.
If qualified, an individual has a fair chance of becoming a successful Business Manager, but he or she will have to work in or near a major music capital to gain clients. One can also work as a Business Manager with clients outside the music industry and then branch out gradually into music.
The name of the game for a Business Manager is to obtain more clients in order to advance their career. With that said, obtaining only a few, high profile clients will have the same affect.
Education and Training
There is no formal educational requirement to become a Business Manager, but most individuals do have college degrees (see our list of top music colleges) in business administration, finance, or accounting – and successful Business Managers have usually completed graduate studies in these areas. Some Business Managers are CPAs, while others aren’t.
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Experience, Skills, and Personality
Business Managers should be knowledgeable on all types of investments. They should also have the ability to negotiate, with a complete understanding of the music business. Tax law is also another important area, as the Business Manager should be able to advise how to save money on taxes. Of course, the ability to help the Artist make money through investments, endorsements, etc., is useful.
Unions and Associations
If the Business Manager is an Accountant, he or she might belong to the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), or the National Society of Public Accountants (NSPA). They can also be members of the Financial Planning Association (FPA). And, if the individual is also a personal manager, he or she could belong to the National Conference of Personal Managers (NCOPM).
Suggestions for Getting Started
- Apply for a position as an Administrative Assistant to get experience working for a successful Business Manager.
- Acts will not entertain the idea of hiring a Business Manager who has not yet proven himself or herself; so be sure to qualify yourself.
- Exploit your contacts to let people know you are looking for this type of work.
- Business management, investments and tax shelter seminars are useful. You need to be well versed in a full range of investments–and not just music related investments.