When you’re just starting out, it’s really all about the music. But, as you get some gigs under your belt and start to sell merch, you’re band is going to turn into a business. Like any other business, yours will need a plan for how the money that it earns will be used and distributed.
Now, in some cases, the plan will be simple. You’ll simply take all of the money that the band earns and distribute it evenly among the members. However, things are rarely that simple. Therefore, we’re going to review the things that your band should do and keep in mind when handling its finances.
Clarity Is Most Important
Like any financial relationship between adults, making sure everything is clear and out in the open is of the utmost importance. Think of all the stories you’ve heard about bands that have broken up due to financial issues. In almost every case, the underlying reason was dishonesty or a lack of clarity when it comes to money. Therefore, make sure that everyone in the band is aware of the money situation, whatever it may be.
You Need a Budget
Even if your band has yet to book its first gig, there’s still a financial component to it. Say, for example, you’re simply practicing in one of the band members’ garage. All of those guitar pedals and Marshall stacks are using up electricity; is everyone pitching in for the power they use? The owner of the garage may not ultimately care about their electric bill, but it’s at least worth having the conversation.
Of course, once you start gigging, things get more complicated. There are a number of different expenditures your band will need to keep track of:
Petrol: Someone has to transport all the gear to and from the venue.
Merch: Are you going to be selling t-shirts, buttons or stickers? Those cost money to make!
Promotion: Even if you’re just running off a bunch of flyers at Kall Kwik, someone is going to have to pay for those.
Recording: Whether you’re going to book studio time or invest in a home studio, this is going to cost money.
Equipment: If you burned out the old PA for band practice, then you’re going to have to buy a new one.
Touring: Planning on hitting the road? How is your band going to pay for petrol, accommodations, food, and everything else?
Given all of these things, you’ll also need to keep track of the ways in which your band is earning money. How much are you taking in from the door at your gigs? How about through merch sales? Are you selling music online?
You probably see where this heading. You’re going to need a spreadsheet, one that breaks down the revenue that your band generates and the money your band spends. Ideally, you’ll want to elect one band member to take on this responsibility, as too many cooks can spoil the broth. This band member will need to make sure that the budget always reflects the current financial state of the band.
Why Your Band Needs a Budget
Having a band budget sounds boring, doesn’t it? Really, it’s anything but. Once you have all of the band’s financial information in one place, things can actually get really exciting. With a budget, you can begin to plan for bigger and better things. Maybe you want to book time at that slick recording studio in the city, or maybe you want to tour the region or the country? When you have a budget, and when you manage your band’s money with clarity and responsibility, these things become possible!