This article was contributed by Carolyn Mescher, CPA.
Tax season is just around the corner, and digging through your files and records can be quite tedious. But it’s nevertheless important. Carolyn provides us with six great tips related to business expenses.
As the disclaimer at the end states, it’s important to seek professional advice. I know that we have readers from all over the world, which means the rules and laws in your locality could be different. Make sure to do your homework.
With that out of the way, here’s Carolyn!
What every musician, artist, songwriter, and music professional should know about filing your 2015 taxes!
While preparing taxes, I have come across far too many musicians, artists, songwriters, sound techs, managers, etc. who overpay the IRS because they filed online. They ended up missing thousands of dollars of deductions, and still had to pay for online tax filing.
Please let me help you save a few hundred or even a thousand dollars! Before you overpay the IRS again, prepare with these six deductions most often missed by musicians.
1. Meal Allowances
Get your touring schedule/calendar. If you don’t already have a calendar that shows which cities you visited and “on the road” days while touring, make it based on your records.
There are specific meal allowances for each city you stay in (if you were allotted a per diem, compile these amounts as well, as they must reduce the amount of meal allowances you’re allowed to deduct).
2. Internet & Cell Phone Bills
Many self-employed and work-from-home people use their cell phone and internet to book gigs, market, and work, so these are considered necessary business expenses.
Determine how many business miles you drove in 2015. If you didn’t keep a record, refer to your touring calendar and find the driving distances to and from cities. The 2015 mileage deduction is $0.575/mile!
4. Membership & Subscription Fees
Membership fees for NSAI, professional musician associations, subscriptions to professional magazines – such as Songwriter, Recording, MusicRow, or other professional publications can be deducted.
5. Instruments & Equipment
Did you purchase any new equipment, instrument, strings, picks and so on for your music activities last year? Did you pay any photographers, musicians, producers, etc. for their services?
Compile receipts, and check images or charges, as these fees can add up quickly and make for significant deductions.
6. Studio Space
Do you use a room in your house as a studio? You can deduct utilities and rent proportionate to the square footage used in your studio divided by your total home.
Tips to Make Your Tax Life Easier in 2016
Here’s how you can make things easier for yourself in 2016:
- Use the MileIQ app to track business vs. personal miles driven.
- Have your oil changed at the beginning of 2016 and again at the end of 2016/beginning of 2017, so you have a record of how many miles you’ve driven during the year.
- When you go to a show, buy new music, or meet a business contact for coffee, a drink, or a meal, get a receipt and note who you were with and what you discussed on the receipt.
- Keep your business receipts! I recommend just keeping a big envelope and putting all business receipts in there throughout the year.
- After each month, print out your bank and credit card statements and highlight business expenses, making written notes where needed.
The information contained within this article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to substitute for obtaining accounting, tax, or financial advice from a professional tax preparer or certified public accountant. Presentation of the information is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, a tax planner-client or financial-planner-client relationship. Internet subscribers, users and online readers are advised not to act upon this information without seeking the service of a professional tax preparer or certified public accountant.
Hey, gang! Do you use Instagram to market your music?
This guest article was submitted by Nancy Grace of iDigic, a tool that can be used to build your Instagram following.
Marketers everywhere are finding a great deal of value in Instagram as a marketing tool, and no doubt you probably have an account of your own. This post features several tips to help you grow your following.
With that out of the way, let’s move right into how to use Instagram to promote your music, and if you have anything you’d like to share with our community, make sure to get in touch.
Yes, you read right. It is absolutely possible to promote your music via Instagram. It is free and easy to use. Instagram is an essential tool for established musicians as well as for aspiring young talent. You just have to get creative and channel your inner Elvis. After that it’s a piece of cake.
Let’s get it started (ha), let’s get it started in here.
1. Unforgettable (Share Stories with Your Followers)
Post photos and videos that depict a story. For example, when you were doing some soul searching, when you were stuck at the first verse, when the magic finally happened and you composed a beautiful song.
Also, post pictures from behind the scenes. This will add a personal touch and it will also help increase the followers for your profile.
2. I Was Thinking, Overthinking (Don’t Overthink the Process)
Instagram is supposed to be fun! Click a picture, edit and post it.
You are seeking the approval of your followers, but you are also doing this for yourself too. So it is natural that you want your post to be perfect to get more likes and comments.
But if you overthink what you’re posting, chances are that you might ruin a perfectly good picture or video.
3. You’ve Got a Friend in Me (Involve Your Fans)
You followers have been loyal to you. It’s not enough to keep posting pictures and videos; you have to reach out to your followers.
Organize gigs at the location preferred by them, give backstage passes during concerts, entry for rehearsals; autographed T-shirts, coffee mugs and you can also give away props you used during your shows. Make them feel involved.
4.Timing is Everything (Post Strategically)
If you are thinking of updating your posts when you’re having coffee at six in the morning – don’t. If you want to look like an idiot posting videos and pictures at that ungodly hour, by all means continue.
After being an active user in Instagram for a while, you’ll probably get a sense when your followers are most active. If you don’t, Google for info about posting times on different types of social media.
You have to post your pictures or videos at a strategic time to get maximum likes and comments.
5. Eye of the Tiger (Learn About Your Audience)
Google can be your go-to resource when you need information on something. There is plenty of free material out there, so you have to take maximum advantage of it.
There are many ideas and tips on how to increase the followers for your profile, how to engage them, how to give your photos and videos cool effects and usage of hashtags. If you spend some time to collect this information, it will prove helpful when promoting your music through Instagram.
6. I Will Never Let You Down (Write a Great Description)
Whatever you do should genuinely excite you. This is applicable in every aspect of life.
Make sure to add a great description to all of your posts. The description alone should get your followers excited enough to buy your new album. Speak from the heart – this will be helpful when connecting with your audience.
When you understand the basics of social media, you can apply what you’ve learned to building a following. Remember that sharing is a powerful form of communication. Share and you will get more in return.
Hopefully this post helped you get your music out there! If you have thoughts, comments, suggestions please do share in the comments section below.
Personality types. Is there anything to it?
Do you believe there are different personality types?
I’ve talked about the differences between introverts and extroverts in the past, but some entrepreneurs I’ve met say that personality should not factor into your business and creative efforts.
I, for one, believe that we were all born with unique imprints. Some of us are good at math and get excited about numbers. Others like to engage in extreme sports and commit a significant portion of their life to that pursuit.
There’s no denying that some of us end up in jobs or roles we never had any interest in. But the thing we’re good at – the thing that makes us come alive – oftentimes has nothing to do with our nine to five.
Musician Personality Types
When I originally wrote this post, there was an infographic to share with you. Sadly, it seems, the provider has closed their doors.
In any case, the top 7 personality types for artists are as follows:
- INTJ: strategic and planning (tends to make for a great music blogger type).
- ISTJ: fact-centered and reliable.
- ESTJ: administrators and managers.
- ISTP: bold and practical implementers.
- ISFP: flexible and charming, and will trying anything once.
- ESTP: smart, perceptive and energetic.
- ESFP: spontaneous, energetic and enthusiastic.
It’s been a while since I took the Jung Typology Test, so I decided to re-take it to find out what my personality type was.
Apparently I am an INFJ (update: I waver between INFJ and ENFJ), which sounds somewhat familiar. Similar to an INTJ, except that I’m more feeling than thinking. It’s interesting, because I think a lot, but when I feel something, I can feel it deeply.
It makes a lot of sense based on things I’ve talked about on the blog and the podcast before.
This would suggest that I don’t match any one personality type that is commonly in the music industry, but I’m definitely walking a fine line between INFJ and INTJ, so I’m closest to The Architect based on the infographic (no longer available).
What personality are you?
Let us know in the comments below.
If you’d like to learn more about the various personality types that play music, sign up for access to the PDF Vault now.
There is no doubt that people love to share their latest status updates with their friends on social platforms.
Enter Twitter, a micro-blogging platform that allows users to update their followers with new statuses as often as they like in less than 140 characters.
At its inception it sounded like a silly idea, but it caught on like wildfire. Today, Twitter is considered an important social media tool by bands, marketers, corporations, and celebrities alike.
The Twitter money movement has always been around, but today, it’s bigger and more vibrant than ever.
So, used correctly, Twitter can prove to be a powerful tool for musicians.
Let’s delve in. How can musicians take advantage of Twitter?
The first and perhaps most important consideration is what to put in your Twitter bio.
This is the first thing people see when they go to your profile. As such, you’ve got to come up with an attention-grabbing bio.
I recommend picking a theme for your profile and sticking to it. And make your theme about the people you’re trying to attract, not about you.
For instance, if you play punk rock in the style of blink-182 and have that “college frat boy” esthetic about you, your theme might be something like “angst-ridden, immature frat boy humor.”
And, when posting tweets, make them as angst-ridden, immature, and humorous as possible. Deliver the goods you’ve promised to deliver.
Bonus Tip: don’t leave the URL space blank. This is where your dot-com domain name goes. Don’t put your MySpace, Facebook, ReverbNation, SoundCloud, or Bandcamp link there.
Following Other Users
The next step in setting up your Twitter account is following other people. If you don’t follow anyone, it can be hard getting anyone to follow you back.
But this doesn’t discount the need to be strategic about this. Following people haphazardly won’t take you very far.
Brenna Ehrlich’s article on Mashable has some great tips:
- Follow bands who share a similar fan base, look, aesthetic, or genre.
- Follow their fans.
- Follow the reviewers, bloggers, or tastemakers in your particular genre.
That’s enough to get started.
As the number of people following you grows, you will begin to reach more people with each tweet.
So, you want to make sure you have a steady stream of content rolling out.
But I like to schedule 10 tweets per day, between the hours of 8AM and 5PM. And it’s easy to do with a tool like TweetDeck.
What to tweet?
Well, like I said earlier, you want to tweet based on your theme. If your theme is “inspiration for creatives and creators,” which is what mine is, you’d want to share short, inspirational thoughts, quotes, platitudes, and so forth.
Stick to your theme, and you can’t go wrong.
You can also:
- Tweet a song. Share a link from Spotify, SoundCloud, Bandcamp, or otherwise.
- Tweet about your recent performances. Or share your blog posts.
- Give away free tickets to your shows. You could also run a fan contest in connection with this.
- Give away free downloads. You could also run a fan contest in connection with this.
- Run a poll. Ask your fans what song they want to hear at your next gig. Ask them about where they’d like to see you perform. Think of other interesting topics you could engage your fans with.
Three in every 10 tweets can be promotional. Otherwise, just stick to your theme or model tweets from bigger accounts.
Most of your following is going to come from you interacting with and engaging other people on Twitter.
Here, too, we need a proper strategy. Here’s what I suggest:
- Respond to recent tweets (that have been posted in the last 24 hours) you like with thoughtful comments (target accounts that have engagement and are a little bigger than yours). If anyone else has responded to the same tweet, like their tweets and respond if you have something to say. Also, follow the people who interest you.
- When you come across tweets you especially like, quote retweet them. Add a meaningful comment. This can get you in front of the fans of the profile you quote tweeted. And, hopefully, your quote retweeted will also get retweeted, as that will certainly boost your following!
- Buy retweets. They only cost $10 to $60 depending on the profile you’re targeting, and this can grow your following fast.
Don’t forget – social media is about connecting and engaging with people. It’s not a good idea to spam, scam, or publish useless and/or pointless content.
For example, if you have a contest, don’t flood people with the same tweet over and over again. Keep it to three times a day maximum.
Bonus Tip: if you happen to be a particularly busy artist/band, plan out your tweets in bulk or in advance using a tool like TweetDeck or Hootsuite. These allows you to schedule tweets months advance. You could plan out an entire month’s worth of tweets in one fell swoop. Also see: How to Automate Your Social Media Marketing as a Musician
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Have you ever had something synchronistic happen to you, and if so, have you ever wondered why? Have you ever had anyone say to you that things happen for a reason, and if so, what was your first response?
The fifth TQ podcast is a continuation of our fourth gathering in December, and features highlights from presenter Frederick Tamagi, as well as the poetry and music of Jeremy Park.
This podcast episode features the thrilling conclusion to Synchronicity part one. Part two is coming soon.
Thank you for listening!
What questions will you be taking with you after listening to this episode?
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We look forward to interacting with you.