Growth Group | Accounting for Musicians

100 Things Music Creators Can Deduct on Taxes

Music Tax Deductions


Oh, taxes. Something everyone has to pay, but despises. Something some music creators (incl. musicians, producers, songwriters) fear and dread every spring. Well, I’ll be honest… I hate tax refunds, but I know others think of them as free gifts from the government. Regardless of your current relationship status with the IRS or your state, tax deductions are something you often think of before making purchases (and also when you’re trying to file at 11:59pm on April 14. I know, no one had to tell me).

Since I’m a music industry tax genius and all (I kid, I kid! No, but seriously I’m schooled in this stuff), musicians, recording studio owners, and indie record label execs ask me about tax deductions a lot. So, today I’ve dumped my brain into this list of tax deductions for music businesses. This list does NOT include everything you can deduct on your taxes for your music endeavors, but it certainly should give you a seriously good starting point.

Use the following list includes tax deductions for musicians, producers, songwriters, bands, recording studios and record labels.

If you:

you could save hundreds if not a few thousand dollars in taxes, for real. Here we go!

Music Business Tax Deductions

  1. Ads (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc.)
  2. Car Insurance (15 minutes… you know the drill. More info on car insurance.)
  3. Fuel
  4. Tolls
  5. Parking
  6. Mileage
  7. EZPass or other fast pass for tolls
  8. Public transportation (for gigs, rehearsals, and meetings)
  9. Vehicle Repairs & Maintenance (tire patching, fluid flushes, windshield repair, etc.)
  10. Oil changes
  11. Washing and vacuuming your car
  12. Interest on Auto Loan
  13. Car or Truck
  14. Booking and Talent Agency Commissions
  15. Distributor commissions
  16. Band manager fees
  17. Amounts paid to bandmates, backup singers and accompanying musicians (send a 1099)
  18. Legal fees
  19. Music equipment
  20. Equipment insurance (here’s why you need insurance for your music equipment)
  21. Equipment repairs and maintenance
  22. Health, Vision, and Dental Insurance (you’ve got health insurance right?)
  23. Office supplies
  24. Studio or office rental
  25. Property insurance (aka renter’s or homeowner’s insurance)
  26. Real estate taxes
  27. Rental car for gigs, touring, and travel
  28. Instrument rental
  29. Instrument insurance 
  30. Business Licenses
  31. Payroll Taxes
  32. Train tickets
  33. Baggage fees
  34. Plane tickets
  35. Bus Tickets
  36. Travel Insurance (here’s why travel insurance is necessary for touring)
  37. Hotel stays
  38. Cab fare and Uber rides
  39. Meals (while on travel)
  40. Refreshments (for studio guests and clients)
  41. Internet (aka Wi-Fi)
  42. Electricity
  43. Water bill
  44. Gas
  45. Tax preparation costs
  46. Cellphone (here’s some info on iPhone deductions for music)
  47. Phone plan
  48. Cellphone equipment insurance
  49. Apps, on apps, on apps! (there are apps that help manage the business side of music)
  50. Percentage of home (or apartment, condo, etc.)
  51. Paypal or Square fees
  52. Dropbox subscriptions
  53. Gifts to fans or customers
  54. Postage and delivery charges
  55. ATM fees
  56. Overdraft fees
  57. Wire transfer fees
  58. Cost of checks
  59. Merch design (t-shirts, posters, stickers, etc.)
  60. CD Duplication (don’t buy too many CD’s though)
  61. Cost of merch and CDs (after they’re sold or gifted)
  62. Recording costs (only half in the first year, find out more)
  63. Mixing & Mastering
  64. Album graphics
  65. Photoshoot
  66. Music or promo video
  67. Entertainment (like tickets to concerts)
  68. Showcase application fees
  69. Music Conference tickets (A3C, Driven, Future of Music, etc.)
  70. Retirement account contributions (Contributing enough to your after music retirement?)
  71. Student loan interest
  72. Tuition
  73. Value of property or cash given to charities (not services)
  74. Website design
  75. Website maintenance
  76. Website hosting (GoDaddy, Bluehost, etc.)
  77. Online services (Reverbnation, Soundcloud, Bandcamp, etc.)
  78. Portion of stolen gear, instruments, or equipment
  79. Electronic beats or sounds
  80. Accountant fees
  81. Cloud storage (like Dropbox)
  82. E-mail marketing (like Mailchimp)
  83. Accounting software (like Xero)
  84. Computer
  85. Printer/Scanner/Fax (combo or separately)
  86. Sheet music
  87. Business cards
  88. Studio or office furniture
  89. Union dues
  90. Music industry publications and magazine subscriptions
  91. Sample clearances
  92. E-mail service provider (Google Apps for Work or Outlook)
  93. Construction and renovation (for studio or office)
  94. Artwork (for office or studio)
  95. Salaries paid to assistant or receptionist
  96. Other supplies (like toilet paper, handsoap, and paper towels for the studio or office restroom)
  97. Business registration and annual fees
  98. Returns of CDs or Merch
  99. Cleaning and janitorial services
  100. ISRC registration

That ain’t it, there are more. What are some music business expenses that you’re writing off this year?

Photo by PopTech


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  • missshowbizz

    Very helpful. Thanks for the advice.

  • Kyle

    hey…doing the book keeping and accounting…..whats up with digital sound libraries…they seem to not be an equiptment expense nor a office supply expense….any ideas? do you have to depreciate them ala a computer….can you take the suspense in the year of purchase….most studios i know have at least 10k plus in libraries….

    • Hey Kyle, digital sound libraries are a type of software. Therefore, they’d be depreciated. There are elections to take the expense in full the year of purchase, but you’ll need to talk to your music accountant to determine eligibility. Hope this helps.

      • kamaka

        How can digital sound libraries depreciate when they last forever? (I’m in my first quarter of accounting in school and totally lost. Lol)

        • Digital sound libraries will not last forever. They’re a type of technology software that will eventually be replaced with something new. Think of trying to use the 1997 version of Microsoft Office on a new Macbook Air. You’re unlikely to succeed. Digital sound libraries are a software download and therefore depreciable.

  • kamaka

    Is a logo an asset or expense? Is a copyright an asset or expense? Both of these things last forever…so does their value depreciate?

    • Both are intangible assets, which are amortized over their useful life. You’re only in your first quarter of your accounting education, you’ll find more answers as you continue to learn. Cheers!

  • David Sanya

    You’re a life saver!

    • Thanks David, it was great talking to you the other day. Looking forward to keeping in touch.

  • King OYL

    Does this work if im an at home music producer?

  • Marc Bosserman

    Nice!! : )

  • ▲ ϟϟ Robbie Theus

    Wow. This made my year !

  • Jason Fraticelli

    Does anyone know if you can write off publicist fees? I was told that you could not because it was a service, but I can’t find the concrete answer to that one online anywhere… And this list is definitely very helpful. Dropbox would’ve slipped through my radar for sure.

    • Hi Jason, you can certainly deduct publicist’s fees. Much like any other service provider, for example, your accountant, your lawyer, your manager, all are service providers whose fees can be deducted as a music business expense.

  • nutsinavice

    We were just audited and the IRS agent wants to disallow my mileage to gigs. I have a home office and my gigs are all club gigs that last one night or at the most two at a time. My band is an LLC and we are not employees of any of the venues. Where can I find authority, either tax code or case law, that shows that mileage to a gig is a legitimate deduction? All the musicians are doing it and every website like this says we can. My record keeping was impeccable (Milebug is the best!).

    He’s saying that we can deduct the second trip in a day, but that’s nuts. My commute is to my home studio and from there I travel to the gig.

    • lorilikesfootball

      Unfortunately that is called commuting. You need to stop somewhere as soon as you leave your house to get something for the gig. Even if it is just getting water for the band at the corner store. You then can deduct the miles from the store to the gig. When you leave the gig stop and get something near your house again, like gas. Then you are only losing a few miles for commuting and the rest are business miles. BTW I have represented people in audits for this kind of stuff.

      • nutsinavice

        Actually, it’s not commuting if you have a home office. We just got word that the auditor is recommending a no change, so my mileage was accepted after we sent him section 945 from the 2016 master tax guide that outlines this.

        Thanks for responding!

    • If your home office IS your primary place of business, travel to/from home is NOT commuting. But, you have to prove that the home office is your primary place of business, otherwise the entire local area will be considered your regular place of business.
      In order to prove your home office is your regular place of business, you’ll need to have used it 1. Regularly/Continually (not occasionally) and 2. Exclusively for business purposes.
      This is laid out in Curphey v. Commissioner. Hope this helps. If you need help defending feel free to contact here:

      • nutsinavice

        Thanks! Proving that my home office is my legitimate place of business was pretty easy. I have a home recording studio where I teach, rehearse, record, mix, and practice. I documented with pictures clearly showing a room crammed with instruments and audio gear. It’s pretty obvious that nothing else happens there.

        • Nice! So many are unprepared, glad that it worked out for you.

          • nutsinavice

            I’ve been doing this since the 80s, so I’ve learned a thing or two after the IRS first jumped on my band. My mileage logs were very comprehensive (all 12 pages of Excel printout!), thanks to MileBug, which I highly recommend. It makes it very easy to keep track of mileage for various jobs, destinations, vehicles, etc.