Studio to Stage: Supporting the Music Industry

Music is an art and a business — making it crucial for artists to have the right team helping them so they don't have to focus on the numbers side of creating art.

On the business side of things, City National Bank supports artists through wealth planning services and payment platforms. Besides sponsoring major events such as the 2024 Grammy Awards, the bank dedicates time and money to a variety of music-related nonprofit organizations that spread the love of music and assist people inside and outside of the industry.

After all, City National's goal is to make business personal and support all aspects of the industries we serve.


Personal Expertise & Relationships Keep Music Playing

City National, well-known in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles, where it was founded in 1954, expanded to New York City more than 20 years ago and then to Nashville and Atlanta, to provide financial services throughout the film, television, theater and music worlds.

Since arriving in Nashville, the entertainment team has earned the trust of Music City, becoming advisors to some of country music's biggest artists and labels.

Diane Pearson and Lori Badgett, two senior vice presidents with City National's entertainment division in Nashville, have decades of experience and are well known in the music world. They've become essential parts of the network that keeps the industry thriving. Both were included in the 2023 Billboard Country Power Players list, adding another honor to their lengthy list of industry accolades.

“Nashville is a tight community, and we have relationships with artists and their business managers," said Badgett. “We get to celebrate with them when their songs hit number one, when they debut on the Grand Ole Opry and when they're inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, but we also run into them in restaurants and stores."

City National provides a one-stop shop for musicians at every point in their careers, said Pearson. The bank has helped with everything from a small equipment loan to financing a large stadium tour.

For Pearson, being there for a client during the earliest days of their career is just as important as working with them after they've become successful.

“I recently had a well-known label executive reach out to me via messenger. His message touched me and reminded me why I do what I do on a daily basis," Pearson recalled. “He said, 'Thank you for giving me a credit card 15 years ago when I didn't deserve it, you helped me launch my music career and I am forever grateful.'"


Helping Musicians Continue Their Success

Once musicians experience success, they often have a business manager take over their finances.

“We work directly with business managers to do everything on the credit and lending side, from helping their clients buy a house, a car or a plane; finance a stadium tour; build a recording studio; and pay for their kids' college education," said Pearson. “We serve as the quarterback and connect them with experts within the bank, including investment advisors."

In addition to working with business managers, City National clients include creative agencies that represent musicians, performing arts organizations, record labels and publishing companies.

“We help companies finance purchasing songs - catalogs of music, which is very unique," Badgett said.

However, financial literacy is important for all musicians no matter what phase of their career they are in.

“Financial education is an important element of the value that we provide to the industry. It's also a personal passion for me to give back, and providing financial education is a tool I lean into frequently," said Denise Colletta, a senior vice president and team leader with City National in Beverly Hills.

“We organize financial wellness programs in collaboration with the various trade organizations, allowing us to reach the broader audience," she said. "We try to be part of the fabric of the music industry. I attend as many industry events and seminars as possible to learn about current issues facing the music business and its members."

While Colletta works with many artists who are household names today, it's likely that she met them when they were just starting in the business.

“Business is personal, so we develop long-term relationships with the industry," added Colletta. “People trust us because we have deep knowledge about their industry."

In recent years, Colletta has been involved in financing music catalog sales.

“There's been a perfect storm in recent years that has made music catalog sales attractive for both buyers and sellers, including low interest rates and an influx of capital from other sources," Colletta said. “Over time, investors have learned that, while very much an art form, music is also an asset class that isn't tied to the stock market and could be a part of a diversified portfolio."

“At the same time, a lot of owners will look to execute a catalog sale in connection with estate planning as they want to ensure that their art and their legacy are preserved," Colletta said.


Helping Artists Every Step Along the Way

The continuing evolution of music to streaming platforms increases the transparency and predictability of cash flow to musicians from royalties but also adds to industry complexity. For example, every time you hear music on a streaming service such as Apple or Spotify, it generates revenue. Splitting this revenue between the multiple parties involved with a song's production can become complicated.

That's why City National has invested in technology that helps artists, labels, publishers and distributors manage all aspects of their revenues.


Giving Back to the Music Community

Colletta is also particularly proud of City National's role as a sponsor of music conferences and events.

“At City National, we do more than just listen to and enjoy music," said Colletta. “Our sponsorships are an important part of the ecosystem of the music industry, so we put dollars and time into events such as the Grammys and the Latin Grammys and to organizations like MusiCares."

One such organization is Nashville-based Musicians on Call (MOC), which provides the healing power of music – both live and recorded – to the bedsides of patients and caregivers in healthcare facilities across the nation.

“MOC has many inspiring stories, including one where a musician sang for a 16-year-old boy and his mother," said Pearson. “Because of privacy we don't ever know what's going on with a patient but, during the song, the boy whispered, 'I love you' to his mom. She began to cry and when the song was finished the musician left the room. The mother ran into the hallway to tell him she was crying because that was the first time her son had spoken since coming out of his coma."

City National is a major sponsor for numerous organizations such as the Academy of Country Music's Lifting Lives, which funds music health initiatives and supports musicians who need help, the Music Health Alliance, the MusiCares Coalition and the Songwriters of North America.

The pandemic hit the music industry hard when live performances were paused. With support from City National, ACM Lifting Lives donated $4 million in 2020 to industry professionals impacted by COVID-19 — bus drivers, musicians, artists and their crew in Nashville, Badgett said.

“When the pandemic caused difficulties for members of the music industry, we made sure relief funds were able to reach the people who needed them the most," said Colletta.

But City National's commitment goes beyond money. Both Badgett and Pearson are active volunteers and have served on the boards of multiple nonprofit organizations that help musicians in need and spread music throughout their community.

“We try to attend as many events as possible, from board meetings to fundraisers to concerts," Badgett said. “We know where the money is, and we figure out how to get it to the people who need it."


Influential Women Singing the Same Song

Badgett, Colletta and Pearson are all important women in the music industry, a field dominated by men. Each year, the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative examines diversity in the music industry. In its most recent report, it found that women lack representation in the music industry — a fact that has remained constant since Annenberg began the report six years ago.

The 2022 report found that:

  • 12.8% of songwriters were women.
  • 22.3% of charting musicians in 2022 were women.
  • 2.8% of all producing positions for Billboard Hot 100 songs were held by women.

The women at City National are proud to help women in both music and in finance, another industry in which women are unrepresented.

Since so many women opened doors for Colletta, she does the same to pay it forward, connecting people and nurturing their careers — both in music and in finance.

“Helping other women on their way up is my way of paying it forward. I'm always ready to share my experience and knowledge when I can," said Colletta. “Often, people don't see the talent they have in themselves, and I'm always ready to help them see it."

Badgett and Pearson credit women trailblazers for helping them.

For Colletta, being a woman has been an advantage because she's often sought out for her diverse voice in the male-dominated music business.

In the end, it's music's role as a universal language that keeps all these powerful women motivated.

“I so appreciate the joy and the healing power of music, and I've always been a fan," Colletta said. “My personal and professional passions fuel me every day."

This article is for general information and education only. It is provided as a courtesy to the clients and friends of City National Bank (City National). City National does not warrant that it is accurate or complete. Opinions expressed and estimates or projections given are those of the authors or persons quoted as of the date of the article with no obligation to update or notify of inaccuracy or change. This article may not be reproduced, distributed or further published by any person without the written consent of City National. Please cite source when quoting.

City National, its managed affiliates and subsidiaries, as a matter of policy, do not give tax, accounting, regulatory or legal advice. Rules in the areas of law, tax, and accounting are subject to change and open to varying interpretations. You should consult with your other advisors on the tax, accounting and legal implications of actions you may take based on any strategies presented, taking into account your own particular circumstances.

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