How performers get—and keep—the show on the road

Sports & Entertainment

Musicians today rely heavily on touring for income. Here’s how they finance tours and why focusing on their purpose helps them build good financial habits.

Professional athletes, musicians, and other entertainers live different lives than us. Their work schedule can change from day to day, while we have more of a routine. They work in front of big crowds, while we work in small groups or alone.

Another difference: We get stable paychecks on a regular schedule. But entertainers and athletes can have major, unpredictable swings in income from year to year.

Meanwhile, musicians and other performers who make much of their living on the road have another challenge: When they’re touring, they have major expenses. So what can they do to take some of the unpredictability out of their lives—as well as the lives of those who provide support on their tours and their families?

Financing tours

For entertainers, various lines of credit help them get on the road, says Earle Simmons, senior vice president and wealth advisor at Truist Wealth’s Sports & Entertainment Specialty Group. The type of support depends on several factors, such as:

  • Where the act is in their career
  • How long Truist has been working with them
  • The management team’s track record

“You have to have money to get out on the road,” Simmons explains. “If it’s a newer band that has to come up with the funds themselves, for example, we might provide a small line of credit or a combination of a line of credit with a business credit card program.”

At the opposite end, “For larger clients we might upgrade them from a business credit card program to more of a commercial card program where the limits are well over $1 million,” he says. “That’s for a very large touring act that may be on a stadium tour, and it covers the cost of the next stadium setup before they get there, pays for upwards of 100 hotel room nights for two or three shows, and so on.”

And touring has become more important to a musician’s livelihood, Simmons says. In the past, tours were meant to drive record sales. “Today, the game is to release music to go perform it live and drive ticket sales,” he says.

Because touring involves so much money, clients should leverage strengths instead of weaknesses when financing shows, adds Chris Trokey, managing director of the Sports & Entertainment Specialty Group. “Touring, where you need a line of credit to get the tractor-trailers where they need to be, is leveraging a strength because you have contracts and minimums for deriving income,” he says.

Simmons says other clients, such as the music industry executives he serves from his office in the Music Row district in Nashville, benefit from these services as well. “They might have a salary but also a performance bonus that’s a large percentage of their annual compensation,” he says. “Depending on the level of their salary, we might offer a line of credit to help stabilize cash flow or to help them make a purchase.”

Truist typically is already working with that client on financial planning or wealth management. “So we have some of their assets under management and can offer a conservative approach with a right-sized line of credit at an attractive rate, especially in normal environments,” Simmons says.

Building good habits from purpose

Another big difference between performers, especially athletes, and us: They make most of their earnings earlier in their lives, while our annual income tends to grow at least into our 50s. That sounds great: starting with a large amount of money at the beginning of your career and enjoying it throughout your life.

But for these clients, it’s even more important to follow sound financial practices, Trokey explains, because the choices they make when they’re young can have a profound effect when they are older. To help engage clients in these discussions about good choices, Trokey talks to them about the “why” of their lives.

“A lot of times, purpose is discussed up front,” Trokey says. “It’s what can help us establish the good habits.

“If we can help the client define their purpose, then we can ask, ‘Well, what’s it going to take to get there?’ Now we’re into a long-term budgeting conversation. And then the habits will fall in line in order to meet that purpose.”

The rewards of sacrifice

To help clients live their purpose out loud, both Simmons and Trokey advise them to first connect with who they are and what they want for their family and friends, then perform so that they can live out their purpose. That’s followed by prosperity when they’ve achieved what they set out to do.

To follow this path, athletes and entertainers make tremendous sacrifices, including spending a lot of time away from their families, Trokey says. When their clients know their purpose, establish good habits, and make adjustments as their lives and careers change, it can make all the sacrifice worthwhile.

“And then they can enjoy it,” he says, “because they get back the thing that’s most precious to us: time.”

Read our Truist Purple PaperSM “The impact of purpose” for more information about aligning your values and purpose to your wealth.

Talk to a Truist Wealth advisor.