After the 2008 global financial crisis, rock bands and their managers are paying closer attention to obscure concerns like currency rates and economic trends when inking contracts with foreign concert promoters. Eight months before Metallica takes the stage in Germany, Mr. Burnstein decides whether the band should be paid in dollars, euros or a combination of the two. If exchange rates swing in a way that hurts Metallica's earnings, he buys derivative financial instruments to lock in a preferred rate. Sometimes ticket prices are hiked to compensate for possible currency-related losses, though Mr. Burnstein shuns this strategy.
"Nobody is looking to make a foreign-exchange trade to make money, but you don't want to be a loser," the scraggly bearded manager said.
The euro is what Mr. Burnstein fears the most. "Over the next few years, the dollar will be stronger and the euro weaker, and if that's the case, I want to take advantage of that by playing more of these [European] shows now, because they will be more profitable for us," he said.
Recently, David Rawlings, the guitarist who performs with American roots musician Gillian Welch—another client—called from Europe complaining about the still-strong euro. Unlike many top musicians, the duo drive from show to show, and found themselves shelling out four times as much on fuel, hotels and food as they do in America—something Mr. Burnstein jotted down. "They really have a ground-level view of what things cost" in Europe, he said. "That's another thing that confirms for me that, because of the exchange rates, prices in Europe are much higher, and this isn't a sustainable situation."
By the same token, it makes sense for Metallica, whose costs are largely in dollars and not euros or pounds, to suck up those currencies next summer. "A weak dollar is the best thing for American rock 'n' roll," said Bill Zysblat, partner at RZO Productions, which has handled tours for the Rolling Stones and the Police.
Sometimes Mr. Burnstein's calculations are in harmony with his client's wishes. In September, the Chili Peppers trekked through South America, a popular destination for entertainers thanks in part to soaring currencies that make it easier for local promoters to pay U.S. acts especially well. Singer Anthony Kiedis and bassist Flea, surfing enthusiasts, drove an hour out of Rio de Janeiro, to find the best place to catch Brazilian waves.