Money is a topic that lots of bands go to great lengths to avoid, and it’s easy to see why. Finances can be tricky on an individual level, but in the context of a band, discussions centered around money can range from awkward to downright awful. But while it can be tough for some bands, having honest discussions about money simply have to happen if you’re serious about making music.
Talking about money with your band might not feel natural, but it’s important
For bands who are intent on making great music, talking about anything other than songwriting, recording, and performing might seem like a distraction. But in reality, musicians have to think about and discuss money because a band is essentially a small business. Everything from recording to touring requires significant financial investments, and without planning and budgeting, your band won’t be able to reach its goals.
Even if you’re a band that makes music and performs for fun, money is a topic you’ll have to discuss when it comes to figuring out how to spend show profits. But if your group wants to tour and regularly release music, having smart discussions around money will probably be more complicated, but they simply have to happen.
Deciding whether to re-invest or split profits
Whether it’s the $33 you made after a show or the huge paycheck your band gets after one of your songs made it into a car commercial, figuring out what to do with the money your band earns is hugely important. The truth is that most bands will simply never get back the thousands of dollars they’ve spent on instruments and music equipment. Knowing this, you’ll have to decide whether to put the money you earn back into the band or into your own pockets. The best choice for your band completely depends on your aspirations and future plans.
Creating a budget and sticking to it
Want to release an album? How about going on tour for a couple of months? The more thought and financial planning you put into these things, the better the outcome will be no matter what you’re doing. For example, if you’re planning to head out on a long tour, you’ll need to have a detailed plan for how to spend money you make from each show and what you’ll do in case you don’t earn enough to break even. What will happen if the tour van breaks down? Will tour profits pay for each member’s food costs or will you and your bandmates be responsible for paying for their own food on the road? Conversations about money will happen in your band at some point, but you can decide to plan ahead and have them in advance.
Talk about your financial resources and decide on a budget long before you tour or release music. Biting the bullet and planning ahead will help your band save money and stress, but the biggest benefit of financial planning is that it will allow you to completely focus on your music.
Patrick McGuire is a musician, writer, and educator currently residing in the great city of Philadelphia. He creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.