Smart Money Management For Artists

Article by: Pattie Lin
VQS Advice Blog

Like everyone else, I’ve been watching my income and bills during quarantine

and I actually spent some time completely reorganizing things. Even though most people tend to avoid this topic, it’s exactly for that reason that many new artists struggle to even get started.

So you have talent, passion, and bills to pay. Recording is expensive, touring is expensive, and heck, even just living is expensive. We all dream of the day we can quit those side hustles and hit the road for good, but you need to make sure that you last long enough to get there.

“Fake it till you make it” doesn’t mean driving yourself into bottomless debt. It means being creative to make more, using what you have. If you’re just getting started in the entertainment world and you’re overwhelmed by how much everything costs and how little you might get paid, here are our top 5 tips to help you stay financially afloat.

1. Invest In Yourself

Your time is valuable and you need to make sure you spend enough of it working towards your music career. Nowadays you can learn just about anything online for free. Even if you don’t plan on doing everything yourself (booking, writing, tracking, mixing, mastering, etc.), the more you know, the smoother the process will be and the less time you waste in the studio. 

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2. Trade Your Skills

Collaborate. Don’t be afraid to pick up session gigs, even if they don’t match your own personal style. No matter what, you will learn something from each experience. By showing up and supporting someone else’s project or show, you will build your credibility as an artist in your community.

[*The caveat here is that you need to be mindful of which gigs and connection value your abilities rather than simply taking advantage of you]

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3. Buy Second Hand

There are musicians everywhere honing their craft, trying new gear, and upgrading. Most musicians treat their instruments and equipment like treasures. You’ll likely find equipment as good as new, or used with love for a much better price. Plus, you never know when you might make an interesting connection over the shared love of music.

4. Track Your Expenses

I know it’s annoying, but this can make a huge difference in your spending habits and your tax return. You do not want to be stuck trying to remember every drive, every online fee, every tune-up, and battery purchase you’ve made over the last year.

All of those things might mean money back in your pocket and can help you budget for projects in the future. Knowing how much money you need to release your next album will help you figure out how much time you have to spend working to fund it.

5. Collect What’s Yours

Once you’ve published original music and started performing, make sure you’re registered to collect streaming AND performance royalties. Submit your setlists on time, because each time you play your song at a venue you are owed money! You earned those royalties. Take them.

Bonus: Watch What You Drink

Watch what you drink. I’m talking about coffee and alcohol. Buying one coffee a day costs you ~$100/month. Make it a habit to brew your own coffee, and pregame at home. I don’t even want to think about how much we spend drinking out. Yes, you can treat yourself every now and then but remember to keep your eyes and your money on your goals.


Remember to invest in yourself, trade your skills, buy second-hand when possible, track your expenses, collect your funds, and drink responsibly. Finances are tight, especially in quarantine. 

Article by: Pattie Lin

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About the Author
LA based video creator, producer and media coach.
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