Growth Group | Accounting for Musicians

The REAL Cost of Recording an Album

Music production comes at a hefty cost for recording artists. RZA from Wu-Tang Clan chimed about the costs of recording an album during Wu-Tang Clan interview with Bloomberg on November 25, 2014 by saying:

“If there’s a cost, then you’re trying to recoup your costs and you’re trying to make a profit on your costs. Making a Wu-Tang album costs a lot of money because you’re dealing with a lot of talent, you’re dealing with scheduling, you’re dealing with recording studios, studios still cost $1,000 a day at least. So if I put this record out and you don’t buy it or you pirate it down or stream it down, you actually take away the opportunity for us to do it again, because of the costs. That’s a factor, but it’s not a factor that’s strong enough to stop us from doing what we do.”

Like RZA brought up, it costs a lot of money to record an album. Here are some things not normally thought of but that will creep up if not considered before hand:

 Paying the lawyers

Attorneys are needed when you’re recording an album, for everything from contracts regarding “work for hire” for session musicians to registering copyright of the completed sound recordings.

Hiring session musicians

Guitar players, keyboardists, and backup singers, who contribute to your album must be paid for the talent and time they put into your songs. Be sure to factor in their costs on top of the recording studio’s normal rate. Remember to do this before you hire anyone to help record your album.

Mixing, Mastering, and Duplication

Recording is only the beginning of having a quality album to release. Mixing and mastering are also necessary to produce the sound that your fans will love. Consider the costs of mixing and mastering services in addition to studio time when recording your album. CD duplication costs (if you’re still doing that) will be an additional cost to factor in.

Work out the taxes

Artists are always shocked to learn that the costs of recording an album aren’t all tax deductible the year they record. Instead, only half of the costs are tax deductible the year of the recording. The remaining 50% is split into year 2 and year 3.

Photo: “Melissa Gomez Records” by U.S. Army