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Being your own boss is one of the best things about being an artist or creator, but that comes with responsibilities…

Managing Your Money As An Artist

In addition to being your own boss, since you’re getting money from a variety of sources, (such as merch sales, gig tickets, royalties, and so on) being a full-time musician almost always means that your income is going to be classified as self-employment income. The million-dollar question is: how can you manage your money when you’re an artist and largely rely on the gig economy?

The Basics

Dealing with taxes can be a huge headache. Keeping track of your spending and what you make from music is the first step towards correct financial management. However, once it starts getting a bit more complicated – like getting money from overseas, investing your money in new equipment, and applying for funding – things can get tricky, especially if you’re not super financially literate. 

This is where specialist accountants come in. They’re not always the cheapest, but they do have experience dealing with musicians – both from a technical side as well as the challenges that come when dealing with creatives (we’re a difficult bunch). It’s not like any of us got music because of this burning desire to get a handle on accounting. However, it does (literally) pay to stay on top of this (boring) stuff. 

Money Management Tips ‘n’ Tricks

Get Health Insurance!

If you’re based in a country like the U.S where universal healthcare is not a thing, you need to get health insurance. It’s a must! Scour the internet for a plan that you can actually afford so that when you need medical care, you’re covered.

The 50/30/20% trick 

Divide your monthly income in percentages – namely 50%, 30% and 20%. Allocate 50% to essential expenses like rent, food, bills, taxes, any debts etc. Allot 30% of your income to buy things that you actually like. Save the rest. It might not be as clear cut every single month – especially if there’s a particular month where you know that you’re not gonna make that much money. However, having these percentages as approximations helps you manage your money more wisely.

Open a separate business account

There’s nothing worse than getting audited and having to fork out more money to hand over to the tax department. You can avoid all of this by opening a business account and setting aside 10% (10% of that 50% we mentioned in the previous paragraph!) of your monthly income into this particular account so that you can rest assured that when the time comes, you have enough money to pay your taxes, National Insurance etc. 

Diversify your income

Unless you’re with a major label, you should definitely diversify your income. There’s no shame in side-hustling; at the end of the day, it makes life a bit more interesting and helps you pay the rent, even when there’s a worldwide pandemic or catastrophe in the mix. 

Final notes

Managing your money takes a lot of discipline, self-awareness and self-management. It’s particularly challenging for those of us who are not as money-minded as society wants us to be. Thankfully, technology has made it a lot easier to stay on the right track, as apps like Receipt Bank, Xero or Waveapps provide a handy way to log expenses and even generate invoices while you’re on the road.

Photo by Celyn Kang on Unsplash

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