Successful Musicians Have Bookkeepers
Updated: Feb 23
Great Musicians make beautiful art. Successful musicians have bookkeepers.
Jazz great Miles Davis recognized the importance of bookkeeping. He was also one of the most successful jazz artists of all time.
Growing up, Miles was taught that to be successful at anything he needs to count his money. At the turn of the century, his grandfather (Miles Davis the first) was a successful bookkeeper and landowner in Arkansas, a significant achievement for a black man living in the south at that time.
He recalls his grandfather's lessons in his autobiography, MIles, Davis says:
“My father told me my grandfather told him that whenever he got some money, no matter where or who he got it from, to count it and see if it was all there.
One time my grandfather gave my father what he said was $1,000 and sent him to the bank with it. When my father got down there to the bank, he counted the money and there was only $950. When he got back he went to my grandfather and said that he lost $50.
Grandpa just looked at him and said, 'Did you count the money before you left? Do you know if it was all there?' My father said, no, he didn't count the money before he left. '
That's right,' my grandfather told him, 'because I didn't give you nothing but $950. You didn't lose anything. But didn't I tell you to count the money, anybody's money, even mine? Here's $50. Count it. And then go ahead on back and put that money in the bank like I told you.' It was a lesson my father never forgot and he passed it on to his kids.
So today I count all my money."
Clearly, Miles' grandfather knew the value of money from the very beginning.
Make sure you know how much money you have, who owes you what, and how much you owe to who. Count your money in the beginning, then where it goes, and how it gets there.
Mile's grandfather counted money as a bookkeeper before the turn of the century. These days we can do it online.
What do Bookkeepers do for Musicians?
A good bookkeeper is someone who manages and records all business transactions in order to generate financial reports that will help you to understand where the business is, where it can go, and how to get there. You don't need to physically track your money, we use software for that. After finding a good bookkeeper, they will use an electronic accounting software such as Quickbooks or Xero to organize and reconcile all of your transactions.
Firms like BMS Financial offer finance and bookkeeping services
to help musicians with things like:
Project Budgets & Goal Tracking
Tax Strategy & Planning
Cash Flow Reporting & Strategy
Collecting Payments & Paying
Decide Whether to Repair or Replace an Instrument
You're an artist. Focus on making music.
Nevertheless, as your career and earnings grow, your finances will become increasingly complex. Set up a system or have a plan in place that will allow you to avoid becoming overwhelmed, enabling you to stay in a position to handle future growth and/or achieve future goals.