While an artist's manager is involved in every aspect of the artist’s professional life, personal business managers are concerned exclusively with their clients' monetary success. Typically, a personal business manager is one part of a team of support workers who help their client—often a successful performer or performing group—to navigate difficult legal and financial decisions that arise in the course of working in show business. In addition to the personal business manager, this team is likely to include an entertainment attorney, an agent, and a general purpose manager. Cooperating with each member of this team, personal business managers work to put in place a cohesive financial plan that maximizes their client's earning potential.
Although specific duties will vary depending on the scope of a particular client’s career, business managers are certain to file taxes, monitor income and pay bills, oversee royalties, and follow up with third parties to ensure timely payments. A business manager also may be called upon to negotiate with record companies, merchandising firms, and publishing companies; seek out endorsements and sponsors; participate in the planning of recording and tour budgets; and counsel the artist on investment strategies. When certain types of problems arise—a contractual dispute, for example—the business manager is often the one to resolve the issue. While day-to-day contact with artists is usually limited, clients can expect to receive monthly reports from their business managers.
At a Glance
Business managers are typically well educated, possessing some form of business credentials, often an MBA degree. Some business managers learn the ropes as administrative assistants to established business managers, who may work at agencies or as independent contractors. Others start out as accountants. Once a business manager proves capable of helping clients save and make money, advancement comes in the form of more prestigious, higher-earning clients, usually by word-of-mouth referral. Business managers can also come to work for large arts-oriented organizations, such as theater and orchestra companies.
Business managers share similar career paths, required skills, and clientele with entertainment industry accountants. However, business managers are not required to be certified as accountants, although many are. Additionally, personal business managers tend to handle more holistic and daily business support for their clients in comparison with accountants, who may meet with clients infrequently. All told, it's difficult to say which of these two roles is higher on the career ladder or provides greater privileges.
Qualified aspiring business managers should seek out opportunities to assist established managers, whether they're freelance or part of a larger financial management company. There are also entry-level opportunities at independent firms, such as Main Street Advisors, WG&S, David Weise and Associates, and Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group.
- Business management
- Music publishing
Because their clients are individuals or small groups, rather than large companies, personal business managers in particular need strong written and verbal communication skills. Individuals who excel at communicating complex financial and legal information to laypeople are especially well suited to work as personal business managers. Additionally, flexibility is key: while some artists want an independent and decisive business manager to quietly run things from afar, others just want someone to consult on difficult financial decisions and provide clarity to confusing contracts.
Business managers generally work during normal business hours out of an office. They can be freelance or employed by financial management companies. Although there aren't many reasons for business managers to leave the office, they may travel to meet with prominent clients. One of the major benefits of working in and around the entertainment industry is that networking might take the form of attending a movie premiere or concert.