There is a lot behind the business of music that many in the industry miss; from copyrighting your work, to ensuring your publishing is submitted and tracked, to keeping up with your independent contractor taxes throughout each at fiscal year. All of this is detrimental to the long term success and development of any artist or musician seeking to have longevity and keeping their business in order. My dad used to always tell me something I always kept in my back pocket; “This industry is 90% business and 10% music.” Mastering a balance of this is important, and I encourage every artist and musician I come in contact with to learn this early on.
When it comes to the business of music, everyone is not savvy in knowing what is necessary to keep your business in order. I learned from trial and error and from resources that helped me understand the way this industry was set up. One book in particular that I still use as an excellent resource is This Business of Music by M. William Krasilovsky, et al. The reason why I love this resource is because it is written in a way that is understandable for artists and musicians on all levels. It doesn’t matter if you are an artist who is being managed by a label, an independent artist, or a musician playing behind a major artist. Knowing how to keep your business in order is key to survival.
One area that I like to discuss with entertainers is the invoicing and tax system. At the end of each fiscal year, registered companies file taxes for all employees and contractors they payout during that fiscal year. Typically, these taxes are not due until the beginning of the following year. For example, TxLips Band, LLC. files taxes for the 2019 fiscal year, and taxes would not be due until April 15th at the latest. This means companies will report to the IRS what they paid you as a contractor in that one year so they can calculate how much you owe in taxes. Why would you owe? Well, by law, companies are not forced to take taxes out on you as a contractor but, if they do, they are required to file what you were paid in that fiscal year.
Why should you care? Well, part of having your business in order includes knowing what is reported on you, so you know what taxes you are responsible for. How do you do this? Well, it could be as easy as tracking your income for each show, tour, video shoot, studio session, etc. that you do. Keeping your business in order doesn’t have to feel taxing (no pun intended), but it should be done if you are looking to have longevity in this business industry. Keep your head up and shine! You got this in the bag.
Gabriella “Guitar Gabby” Logan is an Atlanta Native and proud graduate of Spelman College and Vermont Law School. Her background in environmental and music law fueled her desire to start and manage the international all-women touring collective, TxLips Band, LLC. Logan believes it is important for artists to be well rounded and versed in many areas of the music business, thus inspiring women worldwide to be an unstoppable force.
-Guitar Gabby aka Mama TxLip
DISCLAIMER: This is in no way to be considered legal, tax, or financial advice and is for informational purposes only. You should seek legal, tax, and financial advice from professionals before engaging in any business.