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SYMPHONY BUSINESS MANAGER
Alternate Career Titles:
Career Overview: Oversees the orchestra’s financial affairs, prepares and distributes payroll.
Career Salary Range: $25,000 to $85,000+
Become a Symphony Business Manager
All financial affairs are handled by the Orchestra’s Business Manager. Depending on whether or not the orchestra is a large organization, he or she may work on their own or as part of a team. Responsibilities in this position include checking all invoices from music rentals, transportation costs, etc., and then paying if everything checks out. But simply checking and paying invoices isn’t enough as the Business Manager must work under an extremely tight budget. Because of this, he or she must always be on the lookout for ways to save money. Money saving tactics might include striking deals with hotel chains for the orchestra while on tour, among other things.
To make things easier both in the short term and the long run for the Business Manager, accurate records must be kept on all orchestra expenditures. Keeping accurate records means making note of all payment dates, amounts, check numbers, etc. Other responsibilities include payroll preparation for orchestra members, while also figuring out payments for guest Soloists. There is little room for error on behalf of the Business Manager when it comes to paying the orchestra because of union regulations that outline disbursement requirements. In some cases, the Business Manager might be the head of fundraising, keeping track and looking after all money raised from donations, etc.
Whoever is employed as Business Manager must work closely with the orchestra’s Director of Development. He or she might also work with the Orchestra Manager or Operations Manager, along with the Managing Director to construct yearly budgets for the organization. In terms of work hours, the Business Manager works a fairly regular day.
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Depending on the orchestra classification, size, and budget, the Business Manager’s salary varies. Of course, work experience and skill level will play into how much a Business Manager earns. All things considered, a full-time Business Manager might earn between $25,000 and $80,000 or more per year.
Aspiring Business Managers face fair employment prospects, as almost every for-profit orchestra in the country needs at least a part-time Business Manager.
While initial employment prospects are fair, advancement prospects for a Business Manager are somewhat limited. The next step up from Business Manager is Orchestra Manager, a process which takes time. Of course, advancement is all relative, as one working as a Business Manager for a small orchestra can advance their career by joining a larger orchestra.
Education and Training
Most orchestras will require their Business Managers to hold a college degree, preferably in accounting, business, finance, or a related field. Those who have music performance degrees, but are not currently performing can also apply for jobs as Business Managers, if qualified.
Experience, Skills, and Personality
Because they are dealing primarily with money, Business Managers must have the ability to work with figures and might have had experience as a Bookkeeper or Accountant.
Unions and Associations
Business Managers in this setting generally do not usually belong to any union. However, he or she might belong to orchestra-related associations – the most prominent being the American Symphony Orchestra League (ASOL).
Suggestions for Getting Started
- Check classified sections of newspapers for Business Manager positions. It’s good to know that these jobs usually open up at the end of a season.
- Check the American Symphony Orchestra League (ASOL) newsletter and other arts council newsletters for job openings.
- Send your résumé and a cover letter to a few orchestras of interest.
- Check orchestra websites for job openings.