Growth Group | Accounting for Musicians

Conquer Your Limitations, Build A Team


Growing up my dad drove a black 1994 Ford Ranger, with manual transmission. The one with the extended cab where the 2 “extra” seats folded out like a manila folder. While on the highway, my dad let me shift the stick. I knew what the engine sounded like when it was my turn to take control and quickly learned how to zig-zag like a lightning bolt to shift the truck from 4th to 5th gear.

Dad taught me how, then trusted me to take control. Although, I can’t drive a manual stick shift to this day (never learned how to use the clutch) I know the basics and can navigate smoothly as long as someone else sits in the driver’s seat to operate the clutch. Okay, so what does this have to do with your music business?

Realizing your limitations is important.

Sure, you can prepare the taxes for your music business on your own, but what about depreciation, do you know how to handle that? Or what do you do when your balance sheet looks like a lopsided scale, when it’s supposed to be equal?

Had I tried to operate the entire truck on my own, I surely would have ruined the engine because I only knew part of the puzzle. The same goes for your music business, trying to do everything yourself with only limited skills will eventually get you nowhere.  Maybe you can sign up to use an accounting software (start the engine), and maybe you can get the bank transactions to load (truck moving) but with time, not utilizing the clutch (your music accountant) will cause lots of damage, making a tow truck and mechanic your only options.

Strengthen Your Limits, Hire An Expert

You know emergencies cost more than preventative care! We all do. Jo-Na Williams, an attorney who empowers artists, such as musicians to fulfill their dreams and helps protect them along the way with legal counsel and coaching says,

 “Team building is the key to true and lasting success in the world of entertainment and art.”

On her blog, you can find tips for how to build a strong team for your music business.

Here are a few situations that can cost musicians more money than they bargained for and could have been prevented by finding an accountant who specializes in music businesses.

1. Jazz musician looses his write-offs and deductions in tax court, after filing taxes on his own and making mistakes

2. Mixing business and personal finances together, looks like a hobby.

3. Not filing tax returns on time, stack up the interest and penalties.

Would you rather bring in an expert early to avoid serious damage or wait until you have nowhere else to turn? Neither is right or wrong, the decision is based on your risk appetite, but the latter will cost more.


Photo: “Waiting for a truck” by Billie Ward