Billboard's 2020 Top Business Managers:
'Stay The Course'
Written by Billboard Staff | March 30, 2020
The executives who watch over the finances of rising acts and superstars play an even more essential role at a time of industry uncertainty and turmoil
On the Eagles' Hotel California tour this year, the band’s set includes “Life’s Been Good,” a Joe Walsh classic that might well be rock’n’roll’s greatest tribute to business managers.
“I live in hotels, tear out the walls,” sings Walsh. “I have accountants pay for it all.”
Business managers play a little-seen but essential role for every successful artist, dealing with increasingly varied sources of revenue, complex tax questions and financial investments, as well as professional and personal budgets (including unanticipated hotel bills).
Their contributions may go unnoticed until the unexpected happens — say, a pandemic-driven pause in the international touring industry throws a spotlight on that one executive who urged an artist to take out concert cancellation insurance.
The roles of business managers have changed in recent years as a wave of consolidation has swept their sector of the music industry, as online transactions have made digital security more essential than ever and as changes in tax laws have eliminated a number of deductions.
In the wake of the Wall Street turmoil following the coronavirus outbreak, business managers also have been the voice of reason. “My advice is, stay the course,” says Julie Boos, owner/business manager/chairman of Nashville firm FBMM. “Our clients are invested for the long game. So you’re going to have these moments, but we’ve planned for them. If anything, we view this as an opportunity.” (Long-term investors can benefit by buying during market declines.)
Beyond balance sheets, business managers can also discipline and inspire their creative clients. “I’m a registered investment adviser,” says Tony Peyrot, a partner in Dunn Pariser & Peyrot. “But mostly what I am is a coach or a shrink, and sometimes I have to kick [clients] in the ass, and sometimes I have to put my arm around them and say, “ ‘It’s going to be OK.’ ”
Co-owners, Business Management LAB
With a client roster that’s all Latin artists, including Nicky Jam, Yandel, Mau & Ricky and Ricardo Montaner, Angie Barajas, 57, and Louis Barajas, 58, have made it a priority “to give them peace of mind by having almost all of them prepare their estate plans,” says Louis. The husband-and-wife team, which reports 60% revenue growth for its business last year, brings another priority to its financial advice. “We create a ‘fuck you fund’ for all of our artists — a fund that will allow them to one day walk away from a bad contract or negotiations,” says Louis, “or from the entertainment business.”