Knowing your worth as an artist is different to being paid for it. You may think you have all revenue streams covered, but unless you moonlight as an accountant, you could be missing out on some serious cash.

Sydney artist Keiren Jolly has helped us depict six reasons why you’re not throwing bundles of hundred dollar bills off the top of the Coke Sign for your latest Instagram story.

#1
You haven’t submitted your Performance Reports to APRA AMCOS

 

As soon as you start performing your music, you’re earning royalties. Sounds kind of magical right? It’s not. Because unless you let APRA AMCOS know when, where and what you’ve performed, the organisation can’t accurately pay you live performance royalties.

To get paid, submit your own Performance Reports through APRA AMCOS’ Writer Portal. Make sure you include the performance date, venue name and address and a list of works that you performed.

The cut-off date for submitting Performance Reports for the previous financial year is July 31 – so get reporting!

 

#2
You don’t have a good tax structure, so aren’t cashing in on sweet musician tax deductions

 

If the terms ‘non-commercial losses’ and ‘quarterly BAS’ mean absolutely nothing to you, don’t get disheartened – your love for music doesn’t necessarily have to be paralleled by your love for accounting.

A certain level of research into what kinds of tax deductions you can make is needed however. If you do your tax right, you can actually make money. Just like property investors can negatively gear their properties, musicians can negatively gear their music business.

Once you start reading the myriad resources available to musicians on tax deductions, you’ll see you can write off assets costing up to $20,000 per year, and expenses like meetings, storage, petrol and Facebook marketing.

It’s also important to tell APRA AMCOS your Australian Business Number (ABN). If you don’t have an ABN and you earn more than $500 in APRA royalties or $75 in AMCOS royalties, APRA AMCOS has to deduct 49% withholding tax from your royalties at the highest PAYG tax rate.

 

#3
You spend $5,000 on a video clip and $0 on marketing

Are you satisfied with the last five years of your music career? If the answer is no then you need to make some definitive changes. If your current business strategy sees you blowing your budget on a music video, leaving you nothing left for an online and marketing strategy, the term ‘career longevity’ will sit just outside your reach.

Invest in your education and your strategy. Keep doing what’s working, stop working on what isn’t, and educate yourself on how to increase your social media equity. One of the ways you can do this is via Facebook’s free marketing information service Facebook Blueprint, which teaches artists how to manipulate their algorithm.

 

#4
You cbf running a merch store or having merch at your show

Any self-respecting businessperson will tell you, multiple revenue streams are the key to financial stability. While you may be bringing in revenue from sound recordings, licensing compositions, synchronisation deals, and live performances, band-branded (or not) merchandise can account for a sizeable slice of your annual income.

Hosting a store at your gig and online isn’t just about brand awareness, if it’s quirky and strange enough, it can lead to greater album and ticket sales – just ask Deez Nuts or The Flaming Lips.

#5
Your music hasn’t been distributed to all the right channels

Digital accounts for over 60% of the Australian recorded music market. If your music isn’t on the right digital services like Spotify, Apple Music and iTunes, you’re undoubtedly missing out on a big piece of the revenue pie.

Thankfully, using an aggregator will distribute your music globally through multiple digital stores and streaming platforms – but there’s no one universal standout of the bunch.

Be vigilant about what you’re signing; make sure you pay attention to details like submission criteria, fees and additional charges, and any contract termination clauses that involve penalties. Also check what rights you’re assigning, particularly when it comes to publishing, synchronisation and performance rights.

#6
You haven’t registered your songs with APRA AMCOS

As the music industry shifts towards a new paradigm dominated by streaming services, the need to understand not only how to collect royalties for works, but to figure out where royalty payments ought to be coming from, is more important than ever.

We’ve covered just how significant APRA AMCOS Performance Reports are to a band’s bank account, but if your songs aren’t registered with the rights organisation, you can’t cash in on performance, synch or mechanical royalties.

APRA AMCOS is responsible for accounting and collecting royalties from music users and making sure the correct royalty is then passed onto the writer or copyright owner of the work. More information here.