What Does an Accountant Do?

Creative professionals and enterprises have particular financial considerations and concerns, and an accountant who is well-versed in arts and entertainment is a vital asset to individuals, businesses, and nonprofits, helping them make, save, and invest money. Accountants assist clients in broadly managing the financial side of their businesses, and while the specific tasks depend on the size and complexity of a client's career and financial profile, the list typically includes tax planning and preparation, record keeping and bookkeeping, contract review, bill paying, and budgeting. Accountants also can provide targeted, boots-on-the-ground advice, recommending, for example, the best credit card for a musician, whether to repair or replace an instrument, or the best virtual assistant for helping a music-related business stay on budget. An accountant working with a musician or band planning a tour will create an initial budget and tools to track expenses, and will oversee the collection of income while on the road. 

Accountant at a Glance

Finding Work and Advancing

Accountants may be self-employed, work for an accounting firm, or be employed by a music company or film or television studio. There are no specialized training programs for arts and entertainment accountants—those who aspire to work with creative professionals or companies should look for internships and other opportunities, network with industry professionals, and focus on building a solid résumé. Advancement means being hired by a more prestigious firm for higher wages, or managing the finances of more famous clients. 

Employers

Accounting firms and entertainment companies

Professional Skills

Time management, accounting, budgeting, contracts, finance

Interpersonal Skills

The best arts and entertainment accountants are creative-minded as well as personable and articulate, and can communicate well with their artistic clients. They also must be cool-headed under stress and deadline pressure, and able to deal gracefully and confidently with all kinds of personalities and egos. Exceptional organization skills, attention to detail, and ability to focus are vital. 

Work Life

Accountants generally work standard business hours, though odd hours may be involved if a client lives or works in a different time zone. Those who are in the upper echelons of the entertainment world often enjoy perks such as travel, backstage passes, visits to movie sets, and elbow-rubbing with the stars.