CCXA is beaming today because we have a special treat for you! Katey Laurel, Independent Recording/Performing Artist and Music Business Consultant at “Mind Your Own Music Business” Coaching, wrote this killer guest post to help you up-level your music biz savviness. She’s helped many artists gain focus in their goals and she provides legit action steps to surpass your goals. Big thanks to our personal coach, Katey! Now.. read on!
There are a million and one things to do in order to run a successful artist-based business…and of course at the top of that list of things to create great art! That’s why it’s even more important to have systems set up and in place to make sure you capitalize on that art once it’s developed enough to make money. The last thing any artist wants to do is the business administration, but it is critically important to making sure you’re sustainable so you can continue to free up time for your craft.
I’ve outlined below some of the common mistakes I see new artists making with their business model… all of them include not focusing enough on the “business” side of things. Don’t let money slip through the cracks by not having your system organized and in place!
1. Make Sure You’re Protected – Register your copyrights. People still believe they can use the “poor man’s” copyright by mailing something to themselves, which is just an urban legend. It is so much more sound to file your form PA and SR for each release with the US Copyright Office to have legal protection in a court of law. Intellectual property is a tricky business, get the info you need in order to be protected. Your art is your livelihood, keep it safe.
2. Make Sure You’re Represented – Register with a PRO (Performing Rights Organization) and SoundExchange. The main three are ASCAP, BMI and SESAC and it is best to register as both a publisher and a writer so you can collect all of your royalties when they start to flow. Don’t forget SoundExchange is additional…you will miss online radio and other digital royalties if you skip this step.
3. Make Sure You Get Paid – Register your song titles regularly with your PRO and SoundExchange. Also don’t forget to file for any special awards your PRO may offer (such as ASCAPlus) and file your live performance setlists.
4. Make Sure You’re Registered – In other words, get legal with your state’s secretary of state as a REAL business. Start your record label, publishing company or other artist-based business. There is specific information on your state’s government website on how to do this, be it a single-member LLC or at the very least registering your trade name. Get the appropriate tax licenses for your area.
5. Make Sure Your Books Are in Order – Be legit, be organized, and save yourself time and money at tax time! Set up Quickbooks, Quicken, Xero or another accounting software and begin tracking your income and expenses immediately. It’s good to get in the habit of doing this regularly. It also helps to be able to see at a glance how you’re doing to manage budgets, plan ahead or set goals for yourself financially. The first step to financial success is actually know WHAT is going on with your money, and there are a plethora of charts, graphs, spreadsheets and tools to help you get a handle on the money side of things.
Once you get these systems set up, it is a matter of maintaining them. Having an organized life should free you up to do more of what you were born to do, i.e., create great music and art! Happy creating!
~ Katey Laurel, Independent Recording/Performing Artist and Music Business Consultant at “Mind Your Own Music Business” Coaching