Like so many industries, there is a work-life tradeoff that comes in the entertainment industry. "There are tons of tradeoffs," says one longtime employee in the strategic planning group of a studio. "The entertainment industry definitely doesn't come to mind when I think about a balanced lifestyle. It's a rare day I don't put in 12 hours."
But that's not always the case. There are many individuals that report (mostly outside of strategic planning and other corporate groups) consistently being home by 6. While the career trajectory is slower and the compensation is lower in the "business units" (versus the "corporate side"), the hours and the requirements are less demanding. There are always exceptions. Says one theme park executive: "Hours are usually 9 to 6, but every year for a few weeks during the spring during our five-year planning process, it's not uncommon for us to put in 12 hours a day, 7 days a week."
One rule of thumb: Corporate jobs that report to the CEO typically face firedrills (i.e. urgent deadlines imposed at the last minute) on a regular basis. Businesses that are more predictable (i.e. the business units) generally have more predictable hours.
"The pay in corporate jobs is usually up there with investment banking and management consulting," reports one former consultant-turned-analyst at a publishing house. The business units, however, are typically known for paying less, both because they are responsible for profit and loss (high salaries come straight out of the topline) and the less grueling hours.
At the corporate level, beginning-level analysts out of college typically start at around $40,000, with several thousand dollars in bonus and a 15 percent raise after a year. Managers make at least $80,000 and directors usually crack six figures. VPs are in the low $100s.
In business units, the pay can be anywhere from 10 to 30 percent lower.
Entertainment is attractive partly because of its perks. "Let's face it, I got into the industry hoping to hang out with rock stars," confesses one record industry insider. Employees get discounts on products, invitations to advance screenings of movies, and tickets to movie premieres and gala parties. That said, the perks are not nearly as lavish as the expense accounts, and freebies that come on the creative side of the business. There are the stories of the business folks who occasionally get free lunches, tickets to movie premiers and celebrity wedding invitations, but these are mostly the result of a person's personal connections.
Another practice, widely considered a perk, is that many within the entertainment itemize taxes and deduct all their entertainment expenses in the name of the job. "I itemized everything from my stereo to my movie tickets," boasts one corporate finance manager.Promotions and competition
There is indeed jockeying for certain roles and positions, as there is in any industry, but the business side is not as ugly as the creative side when it comes to competition. Promotion decisions are not based on the whim of whether people like you, or on how your last film did, but rather on the body of your professional work. Even though there is an oversupply of people vying for the available jobs, it is a largely meritocratic industry.