Top Business Managers In The Music Industry

Posted at August 31st, 2016 | by Yash Vikram Singh | in

There is no argument that established music artists make a boat load of money. Now if you want to keep hold of that paper you’ve got to protect your wealth. This is where business managers come in. In this volatile world, where careers can take a dive into the abyss in a nanosecond, there is a need for someone who’ll keep track of everything, enabling the artist to go out and perform their hearts out every night and worry about just that. Check out these money men who do nothing more than that.

BILL ZYSBLAT, 65 

Co-founder, RZO

“If you have to be an accountant,” quips Bill Zysblat, the 65-year-old founding partner of RZO, “you want to be me.”

The low-key Manhattan resident and father of three has been involved with the business affairs of The Rolling Stones since 1975 and launched RZO (Rascoff Zysblat Organization) with partner Joe Rascoff in 1987. Today, the New York-based RZO has 35 employees handling the business dealings, from the finances of global touring to tax planning, of about 30 clients, including the Stones, U2, Sting, Shania Twain, David Byrne, Joe Jackson and Luis Miguel, along with the estates of John Lennon and David Bowie.

©Goedefroit Music/PHOTOSHOT/MAXPPP - ; ; 10/10/2003 - DAVID BOWIE PERFORMING LIVE ON STAGE /- *RESTRICTED* (MaxPPP TagID: maxpeoplefrthree970721.jpg) [Photo via MaxPPP]

ANTHONY SALEH, 30

Saleh is the rare artist manager (he represents Future, Alina Baraz and Nas) who also is known as a savvy investor. “I want to make sure I don’t come off as a business manager,” says the Beverly Hills resident. Saleh, a protege of Atom Factory’s Troy Carter, has teamed with Nas to run Queensbridge Venture Partners with some $15 million under management and a piece of rising companies including Dropbox, Lyft and MakeSpace. The fund’s expected internal rate of return: 25 to 30 percent.

MICKEY SEGAL, 59

Managing partner, Nigro Karlin Segal Feldstein & Bolno

These five executives are among 26 partners at the firm, whose clients are said to include Drake and Pharrell Williams (NKSFB declined to confirm its roster). And Segal, who lives in Arcadia, Calif., and served three four-year terms as the town’s mayor, has other sweet investment tips: “The maple syrup and honey business,” he says. “The demand for the product is surprisingly substantial.”

BERNARD GUDVI, 69

Founding partner, GSO Business Management

“But with millions of streams coming from all ­different services, it has become very complex,” says the father of two (and ­grandfather of three), a Vietnam War veteran who still displays his dog tags. He has been associated with such acts as Nickelback but declines to name his ­clients. “We have really beefed up our royalty department to understand how the money is flowing — and chasing it when it isn’t, but should be.”

MICHAEL KAPLAN, 45

Partner, Miller Kaplan Arase

“I’m the business manager who tells you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear,” says Kaplan, a Studio City resident and father of three, who explains why he’s willing to tell clients when their spending is outpacing their income. “At the end of the day they’re going to look at me and say, ‘Where did all my money go? What happened? You were advising me.’ ” His proudest accomplishment of the past year was helping a client with a high-end branding deal. While declining to reveal details, he says, “When it got done, we were extremely happy.”

DAVID LEVIN, 58

CEO, DL Business Management

For Jessica Simpson, Levin led the ­acquisition by Sequential Brand Group of a majority interest in The Jessica Simpson Collection, which has reported annual retail sales of some $1 billion. Levin this past year also helped guide the finances for John Legend’s renewed agreement with music ­publisher BMG and Chrissy Teigen’s venture into cookbook publishing with Cravings, a New York Times best-seller. For any client, Levin says he’ll only step in when “their proposed spending [is] not in their best interest.”

MATT LICHTENBERG, 58

Partner, Level Four Business Management

“Everybody’s going to say the same thing: ­private planes,” declares the New York native who now lives in Pacific Palisades, Calif. “Private planes are the worst drug out there. By the time you realize you can’t afford to buy [one] it’s ­usually too late.” The father of two, whose clients have included Limp Bizkit and The Smashing Pumpkins, has a clear goal for his clients, and it has ­nothing to do with planes: “To keep ­financial ­security in their lives.”

SOLOMON SMALLWOOD, 47

Owner/CEO, TSG Financial Management

Managing finances for Justin Bieber, Chris Brown and, for many years,  Usher has brought Smallwood income that he has given back, in part, to help build a homeless shelter in his native Atlanta. “We’ve managed to transition 50 families off the street,” says Smallwood, the son of a minister. He also guided Usher’s minority investment, a decade ago, in the Cleveland Cavaliers — allowing Usher to bask in the glory of the team’s NBA ­championship in June.

LOU TAYLOR, 50

CEO, Tri Star Sports & Entertainment Group

Taylor is proud of her work with Britney Spears’ manager, Larry Rudolph, to set up the singer’s Las Vegas residency at the Axis at Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino. The show has grossed $82 million since it opened in 2013. “To Britney’s credit, she was willing to take the risk.” Taylor boasts an all-star roster of clients, ­including Steven Tyler,Gwen Stefani, Meghan Trainor, Florida Georgia Line, Martina McBride, Desmond Child and now Jennifer Lopez for her Vegas residency.

BILL VUYLSTEKE

Senior managing director/co-owner, Provident Financial Management

Vuylsteke is constantly “trying to add value and not just crunch numbers” for acts including Shakira, Green Day and Red Hot Chili Peppers. He also values his long-term relationship with two key ­executives. Guy Oseary, manager of Madonna and U2, “has been a client since he was 18 and saw my name on his favorite albums,” he says. And Ron Laffitte signed on when he ­previously managed Megadeth. “We went ­skydiving and jumped out of a plane with Dave Mustaine.” The most unusual investment by a client? “Goat sperm,” says Vuylsteke. “I did not make that up.”

DAVID WEISE, 49

Senior partner, David Weise & Associates

David Weise reps Coldplay, The Weeknd, Jack White, Deadmau5, Usher, Megadeth and Skrillex, among others. King’s performance called for a splurge, as Weise flew many of his firm’s staff to England for the July 3 show. For clients ­seeking his guidance on ­spending, “I tell them ‘no’ quite often,” he says. “But at the end of the day, it’s their money.”

Source: Billboard

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Yash Vikram Singh

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