Stars of the financial stage

PwC alumni balance the bottom lines at leading
entertainment and media companies

A gold record is a big deal in the music industry, awarded to albums with sales of at least 500,000 units. The vast majority of artists never reach that milestone, and only the biggest stars earn multiple gold records.

On the walls leading to Kevin Kelleher’s office hang dozens of these gold records, along with several platinum records recognizing million-selling albums. And who is Kevin Kelleher—the real name of some smash recording artist, member of a super group, or the best-kept secret in the music business?

No, Kelleher and his counterparts work behind the scenes in music and movies, television and radio, publishing and media, ensuring their companies have the financial muscle to create tomorrow’s stars and headlines.

Welcome to the world of the chief financial officer in entertainment and media.

A number of PwC's alumni get top billing as lead financial executives for companies that shape what we watch, listen to and read. Because of their focus, they have a firsthand view into some of the most interesting trends and changing consumer habits—and they occasionally get to rub shoulders with celebrities.

Image: Kevin Kelleher

Kevin Kelleher
Kelleher shares his enthusiasm as he discusses the ins and outs of
the music industry.

Sweet sound of success

Kelleher is CFO and Executive Vice President of Sony Music Entertainment, the second largest music company in the world. In fact, the only music company that is larger in terms of market share is Universal Music. That’s where PwC alum Nick Henny is CFO and Vice Chairman.

Kelleher and Henny guide the financial performance of companies responsible for one out of every two records sold globally. And since record sales are still the primary driver of revenue, that’s a statistic both men track carefully. In that respect, their roles are cut from standard CFO cloth.

“There’s a big misconception that you go into entertainment and everybody takes off their ties, goes crazy, parties all the time. But as chief financial officer for an entertainment company, the fundamental chores are the same as anyplace,” clarifies Henny. “What’s different is the people, the environment and the product.”

Those people include the performers under contract. “We spend a lot developing talent. And we’ve got to get the music that comes out of that relationship consumed by as wide an audience as possible,” Kelleher explains. “And a lot goes into breaking new artists. We invest not just in the recordings but also in creating awareness.”

Pointing to Mariah Carey as a prime example of music company power, Henny notes, “That act of becoming cool—marketing, promoting and building the popularity of an act—is what record companies do.”