To afford the basic necessities now and in your retirement requires planning. When it comes to your personal finances and your music business, the ultimate responsibility lies with you to file your tax returns, have adequate insurance cover and create your own pension plan. The best time to start is now. Here is some general guidance:
An emergency fund is cash or another asset you can quickly convert to cash, to cover unexpected expenses. Ideally, every person would benefit from having three to six months income in an emergency fund.
Keep accurate records about your income. Get a business license or separate taxpayer ID number. Join Musicians' organizations and/or unions. Copyright your work and register your songs with a performing rights organization. If you are part of a band, incorporate your band and open a P.O. Box.
If you an employee, the organisation is responsible for sorting out your income tax, social security, Medicare and state income taxes.
For self-employed musicians, complete all necessary tax return forms. Royalty income from the sales of albums, downloads, and merchandise is taxable as is cash or the percentage of ticket sale proceeds from your gig.
If you are an employee it is simpler to request reimbursement for expenses from your employer. Business expenses include lessons, sheet music, subscriptions to trade magazines, consumable supplies such as drum skins and guitar picks, union dues, website maintenance and email access (specific to your music), office supplies, fees, hotel bills and legal and other business expenses.
An individual policy is affordable for musicians who frequently work. If you get a part-time job, enrol in the workplace insurance plan. If you form a corporation or limited liability company with your band mates, you may be able to take advantage of your state’s group insurance rules. Some musicians’ unions have a fully tax-deductible basic union health care plan.
Disability income insurance is difficult for musicians to obtain. The insurance company will need to see your tax returns for the last three year or possibly more.
Auto and Insurance
Document what you own, take photographs, and write down serial numbers to speed up any claim application you have to submit. Auto insurance can cover you in case your gear is stolen out of your van, check if you need extra cover. Be honest about mileage to reduce the risk of a claim being contested.
If people depend on you financially, buy a policy that is guaranteed convertible to whole life or universal life insurance that is guaranteed renewable at the end of the term.
Few musicians continue working into their eighties. A traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA) allows you to deduct contributions that you make. A Roth IRA isn’t tax deductible, but any growth is tax-free as long as you don’t withdraw early. If you do not want a limit on what you save for retirement, consider a SEP IRA.