Revealed: Billboard's 2019 Top Business Managers
Written by Billboard Staff | April 25, 2019
As spring brings the first filing season fully affected by the 400-plus-page tax overhaul that President Donald Trump signed into law in December 2017, taxes and finances seem top of mind for pop stars.
“Do you know,” Cardi B tweeted in February, “that artists, celebrities, the IRS out of every check that you make, they automatically take 45%?” While Cardi may have shared her tax withholding rate, the rapper Future dropped a video for “Never Stop” featuring a beleaguered accountant.
Sitting at a desk topped with mounds of files while wearily rubbing his forehead, the bookkeeper in Future’s video doesn’t quite match the reality of most financial advisers. Business managers are the crucial behind-the-scenes executives who tackle tax matters for artists, as well as savings, investments, financial planning, philanthropy and more. And they preach fiscal conservatism to stars bent on spending hit-driven income on luxury cars, boats, fancy homes or -- the pet peeve of every adviser -- private jets.
Angie Barajas, 56
Louis Barajas, 57
Co-owners, Business Management LAB
The husband-and-wife team of Louis and Angie Barajas boast a client list -- ”Despacito” co-songwriter Erika Ender, Nicky Jam, Gerardo Ortiz and others -- that affirms their status as financial experts in the Latin music market. “Being culturally sensitive and knowing the nuances has helped us differentiate” the firm from competitors, says Louis, whose staff has grown to 15 from 11 during the past year. In response to the new tax law, “we went through [the finances of] every single artist and did a complete tax projection to save them literally thousands of dollars,” with total tax savings of nearly $1 million. Angie describes the firm’s experience with a client she can’t name. “We took an iconic artist -- who was completely disorganized, hadn’t filed taxes for at least two years and was [defrauded] by one of his inner circle -- and got him organized and in control within six months.”