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Money matters: Make it, save it, organize it


by Lindsay Hansen Brown


Katherine Emeneth spoke about how she has successfully created side gigs for herself including Flutissimo and the Kitchen Sync. Since it is challenging to find the “glory job” of a tenure-track university position, she recommended being creative, finding a specialty, and taking ownership of success.

Her formula for finding your specialty is to identify:

1) what you really like to do: play, teach, write, etc.

2) the target audience (kids, adults, enthusiasts, etc.

3) the need that you can fill with that target audience

4) how to fill it. 

She noted that before doing anything, it’s important to have to have the right mindset. Problematic outlooks—and approaches to battle them—include:

Self-limiting beliefs (“I don’t have a doctorate, so I shouldn’t try to teach private lessons; I don’t have a background in business, so I shouldn’t even try to set up a non-profit”).

Look at your self-limiting beliefs and take on something new anyway.

Waiting for perfect. Musicians practice to be perfect. But nothing is ever perfect, and if you’re starting a new endeavor, you just need to start. 

Other tips in the session:

Being boss and the universe. You choose if you’re going to be boss or not. Set your intention and be open to the universe.

Invest. Don’t be scared to invest in yourself, your idea, your product.

Organize It. Having organized records can help you deal with and avoid “criminal exchanges”—situations in which you agree to do something but then are taken advantage of or underpaid, or the terms change unexpectedly. Don’t charge less than you’re worth, keep an email trail, and require payment before leaving the gig. 

Record keeping. Basic: who paid you, how much, and for what? Include documentation. Keep separate bank accounts for personal vs. business expenses.

Other tips: Hire a CPA with experience working with musicians. Keep track of your mileage using QuickBooks or other software. Learn about deductible expenses related to your work, such as instrument repair and studio rental. Save money; that is the way to financial well-being. Think logically about jobs/auditions. For example, how much does it cost to take an audition after you factor in time, gas, and lost teaching time?

Her overall takeaway messages: Everyone’s situation is different, but these are the basic things to have in place before taking on a new endeavor. Don’t stay safe in what you’re doing. Change someone’s life with your new idea! Take a risk!