Thursday, January 28, 2010

Business Finances

So I finished the taxes for the year. I still haven't forgotten the year Tim filed separately from me and ended up with the government taking 90% of his income for the year. Pretty shocking.

This year, we filed jointly. Tim is self-employed, and this was the first year he was exclusively self-employed, with no major long-term contracts with anyone.

People always think that musicians make a lot of money, but it just ain't so.

Sure he made about a pretty decent wage, comparable to his peers, this year--and that was barely working at all (it was a rough year for work!). But, being self-employed, it came in irregularly  and we have to pay for ALL the expenses of the business, including travel and costumes for the guys who sing with him. It broke down roughly like this:

31.5% of the total income paid other people (singers, sound guys) for their work alone (not costumes, etc).
23% went to travel to get Tim and the various singers to shows
15% went to other expenses (costumes, props, shipping merchandise, business office expenses, his work cell phone, advertising, equipment)
30.5% for us.

In other words, we got a third of that fairly decent income to actually live on--we could easily have used that much again toward the business for producing necessary materials, like press kit dvd demos and cds to sell, and that would have been on a shoestring. Oh, and we still had to pay thousands in taxes because self-employment taxes are non-negotiable. (Actually, our child tax credit paid for them, but it was less we got back in the end than a normally-employed person would have).

We are not unique in this. And, as the show pay goes up, so do the expenses (you end up having to bring your sound guy and own equipment to make sure you sound $15,000 worth of good, and have costumes that work for that, and pay more taxes, hire better musicians, pay agents and managers and producers, etc).

My conclusion from all this: Don't be a musician if you want to be rich. Music doesn't pay.

(That's not to say we quit--we're in this for the long haul).

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