While many people are passionate about the music industry, many others see it as a way to make a living. However, not everyone is a business graduate. If you’re anything like me, the thought of doing something so mundane as taxes every year is enough to make your blood boil. If you are a musician and want to make music your life’s passion, there is no way around the business side. It can seem daunting to set up a band as a business. There are many mistakes that you will make. Let’s grab a snack and get started: How to Set up Your Band as A Business.

1. Application for an ABN/TFN

Once you have decided that you want to “really DO” this music thing and you intend to make a profit, you should get an ABN. To start your application, visit the ABR WebsiteIndividual (Sole Trader) is the type of entity you can choose if you are a solo artist for tax purposes.

If you’re an Australian musician (which assumes you’re reading this and applying for an ABN), your activities will be in Australia unless you plan to move.

Select In the form of a business when you answer the question about your activity’s “nature and scope”. Pay attention to whether you are carrying on a business or intending to. To answer the questions honestly, hover over the “?” icons. If you have an ABN obtained under false circumstances, it won’t be of much value to you. (Plus, it’s illegal!)

If you are eligible for an ABN based on the information provided, you will be taken to a screen where you can print your answers. Keep this screen in your business records. This should be done every time this option is offered to you in any application process.

Next, you will be asked whether “the applicant” already has an ABN or if they have one. You must select no if you are not a solo artist. The applicant, in your case, refers to you and your brand, not your business. You can select yes if you are a sole trader and have never held an ABN. Because you own your business, “the applicant” is you in your case.

The same deal applies to your TFN. This TFN will identify you as a sole trader or sole trader. You will need a new TFN if you are not solely trading. Fortunately, you can apply simultaneously with your ABN.

Musicians are not exempt from income taxes. A band is not generally considered a non-profit organization. You should not register for any tax that may be offered. You can enter the registration number of a tax agent you have used or found in the box provided. This is a great practice. They are affordable, tax-refundable, and take away unnecessary stress.

You will be asked when you want your ABN. You can choose today to get your ABN. I assume you will answer “no” to the question regarding whether or not the Australian Government controls you.

When you get to this step, there are several options. Being a solo artist, “Musician – own account” is the best option. “Musicians or Musical Group Opera” is the best choice if you are in a band.

Next, you will be asked to enter your business address. This can be your home address, but it can’t be PO Boxes or similar addresses. If you are a solo artist or a band member, you can designate this person as your tax agent. You can also decide who will file important paperwork such as bills, receipts and invoices. The business can address its home address. If you wish to delegate one, you will also need to provide either an email address (now is a great time to create a Gmail account jointly for the band) or a telephone number.

If you would like to include the details of all members of your band on the Associate’s page (or you, if you are solo), you must do so. You will make the entire ABN application process faster if each Associate has their TFNs. However, you have the option to give residential addresses if that is not possible.

The final step is to choose the reason you want your ABN application. Getting paid for services may be all you need, but if your goal is to turn your music career into an actual business, choose a New Company in Australia.

Once your ABN has been approved, you will be able to access it via the ABN Search.

2. Auskey, Trademarks, and Business Names

After your ABN has been set up, it’s possible to register for other obligations. Except for a $75 000 or less turnover, you don’t have to register for GST. However, you will need an Auskey to identify yourself when using online government services. You can register for an Administrator Auskey with any partner (or as a sole trader). *Please note that the Auskey website doesn’t work with all browsers. If you have problems, try another browser. )

Register your business name unless you are a solo artist and operate under your usual first and last names. This costs $36 per year or $84 for three years. If your name is Kate Smith, and you are making music under the Kate Smith sounds name, you will need to register Kate Smith Sounds’ business title. However, if you go with Kate Smith, you should be fine. You should be aware that registration of a business name does not mean that you own the name. If you want your brand to be called Pet Rock or the Anti-Socials (I don’t have that trademark so you can go ahead), you will need to register the trademark with IP Australia.

Make sure you check with ASIC and IP Australia to ensure that the name you are interested in is not already taken. IP Australia offers two methods to verify this: ATMOS and TM Check. To be certain, they recommend that you use both TM Check and ATMOS. It’s easy to use TM Check. Type in your business name and select the ‘Education. Sport. Recreation. And Entertainment option from the Services menu. ATMOS allows you to perform a more thorough search. You can use this tool to nominate to search the exact word/s in your business name and phonetic word matches, and part word matches.

3. Other obligations and processes

It’s essential to have a strong web presence in today’s world. Register with AUDA to get the a.au domain if you create your site. You should set up a Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter page for your business.

Each type of enterprise has its legal obligations. ABLIS offers a great search tool to give you all the information you need. Entering your postcode and searching for “musicians” will give you access to information about your business. Choose the information sections and options that are most relevant to your needs. You can use the services of a manager at any stage if this is your intention.

4. Banking

Once you have your ABN, TFN, and registered business name, it is time to open a bank account. It’s quite simple, but it will vary depending on your business bank. For example, if you choose to do business with the Commonwealth Bank, you will be able to set up a Transaction Account, and each member of your band can sign it. You can then make withdrawals. It is up to you, but some bands prefer one signatory. It’s best if everyone is present when the account is opened. However, if this is not possible, the additional members can be added later. As confirmed by ASIC, the entire process can be completed online if there are less than 2 directors in your business.

5. State organizations and partnerships

A contract is a great way to outline your obligations to each other and the business if you are a band. AMIN offers a wealth of resources to help you accomplish this. Their Legal Package includes a Band Partnership Factsheet and Checklist.

Last but not least, make sure to register with the state’s music organization.

It is not easy to set up your music business. This article is not exhaustive. There are many other services and organizations you can and should use. Although all the website surfing, applications, and beaurocracy deals can be exhausting, the hurdles you have to jump through to get to where you want to go aren’t so daunting if you do what you love.

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