What do you want to become?
Music Business Accountant
Alternate Career Titles:
Accountant, Tour Accountant, Music Specialist Accountant, Entertainment Accountant
Career Overview: Music Business Accountants advise and work with musicians and music industry companies on financial matters.
Average Annual Salary:[ $65,080
General Salary Range: $40,370 to $113,740
Become a Music Business Accountant
Music Business Accountants help musicians and music industry companies with their tax returns and other financial statements. They review royalty statements, help with applications for financing, analyze contracts, and review business plans, among other duties. Alexis Kimbrough, founder of the music industry accounting firm Growth Group says that, in her field, “no two days are alike. Every artist, band, Producer, Singer, Songwriter, label exec, and Manager is different and has unique needs. Generally, I advise and coach all music creators in how to make, save, and invest money from their music career. This also involves keeping them on top of the requirements for taxes.” When working in the capacity of a Tour Accountant, job duties include creating an initial budget for the tour, verifying expenses, and ensuring collection of all income while on the road. He or she will report to both the Tour Manager and Business Manager.
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Advancement in this role comes through working with well-known artists or getting hired by a prestigious firm, which means higher wages and more famous clients. For some Accountants, advancement could also mean obtaining enough paying clients to strike out on their own and establish their own accounting firm.
Education & Training
A college degree is essential to get a job as a Music Business Accountant. Kimbrough states, “For working in the accounting field, you’re going to at least need an accounting or finance degree. An advanced degree is also helpful because it will give you depth into the specifics that your bachelor’s degree generalized. I received my Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from Howard University, and a Master’s degree in Taxation from American University, both in Washington, DC.” She adds, “If you’re an accounting student or music business major who is interested in business management or accounting, take the courses that could directly impact your potential clients. If the university or program does not offer what you’re looking for, seek outside sources and conferences to dig deeper into exactly what you’re interested, and do your own independent research.”
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Experience & Skills
On-the-job training and experience are necessary to land a position as a Music Business Accountant. However, since this field is so specialized, the aspiring Accountant doesn’t have to land a job with a professional music industry accounting firm right out of school to get the experience required. Music industry experience is great, but solid work history in the accounting field is more important. Kimbrough describes her own career path, saying that, “After helping large corporations increase their profit by millions of dollars, I wanted to shift that focus to smaller businesses who had more impact, and cared. I was heavily involved in music: my scholarship to Howard was for music, so it became the perfect marriage for where I should go next.”
Being a Music Business Accountant requires a certain kind of personality. “You’ve not only got to be detail-oriented, you’ve got to be personable and creative. As a Music Accountant, I’m psyched to work with some of the most creative minds, and I try to appeal to their creativity in explaining financial concepts,” Kimbrough says.
Although accounting firms have set business hours, that doesn’t mean a Music Business Accountant’s day ends at 5pm. They work with artists who live in other time zones, as well as artists who are juggling a day job while making music at night. Therefore schedules can vary drastically every day. Kimbrough says, “Life design is something I truly value. Making the move into working with music creators meant scheduling around day jobs (for those who weren’t full-time yet) and tour dates. I work during the typical work week, and put in the necessary hours to produce value for the people who have entrusted me with their finances. Everything Growth Group does is virtual; the people we work with are located all over the world so we’re balancing time zones and aren’t location specific, so some odd hours are required occasionally.”
The best way to find a job as a Music Business Accountant is by building an educational background and establishing industry connections. “Finish up your schooling and certifications, then look for internships and opportunities to work with Managers and artists. Search for the place where you’re needed most and go for it!” Kimbrough says.
Music Business Accountants are paid per project, based on the complexity and time involved. Their starting salary is one of the best in the industry.
Unions, Groups, Social Media, and Associations
Although there aren’t any unions or professional associations geared towards Music Business Accountants, plenty of general accounting associations serve their members. Kimbrough says music specific accounting groups don’t exist because “. . .there aren’t many Accountants who have carved out industry specialties, but I do belong to a really cool group of Accountants who serve various industries, called Thriveal.”
- “Complete school.
- Get certified.
- Meet people.
- Work hard.”
What is the single biggest suggestion you would give to someone wanting to get into this career?
“Focus, you can’t do everything, so hone in on your strengths and outsource for your weaknesses.”
What’s the #1 mistake people make when trying to get into this career?
“Thinking that what you learned in school is all you need to know. Education gave you the tools, but it’s important to use them and apply them to the specific situation.”
If you could describe in one word what makes you successful, what would it be?
Atlanta-based Alexis Kimbrough is the founder of Growth Group, a music-focused accounting firm that works with musicians, record labels, and recording studios. A musician herself, she has served as featured panelist at the International Music Conference, Driven Music Conference and as a panelist at the Xero Roadshow. Her academic background includes stints studying Accounting and Taxation at Howard and American Universities.