Tax Return for Songwriter

If you love music, and have both musical and writing talent, being a freelance songwriter could be the perfect career for you.

A career as a songwriter involves writing both the music and lyrics to sell to a music publisher or singer.

It’s a difficult industry to break into, but this guide will make it a little easier.

What skills and qualities does a songwriter need to have?

  • Understand music: You’ll need to be able to read and write sheet music, as well as understand music theory.
  • Passionate: Writing and selling songs takes a lot of hard work over many, many hours. If you’re not passionate about writing music, you won’t get far.
  • Musical ability: You should be able to play at least one instrument, with singing ability a plus. This will help you write, as well as communicate your ideas to other people.
  • A good communicator: This will be helpful in writing songs, since music is essentially a form of communication. This skill will also be helpful when talking to clients and understanding what sort of song they want written for them.
  • Good with words: You might be great at writing notes, but writing words is another matter. Learn by listening to the lyrics of songs you like, and read poetry.

How to be a better songwriter – training and qualifications

You don’t need a qualification to work as a songwriter – in fact, most music publishers or singers won’t care about your education.

They only want to know if you can write songs.

However, there’s no such thing as too much knowledge. The more you know about music, the better a songwriter you’ll be.

You could learn at college or university, or take specific classes. You’ll learn some of these relevant subjects:

  • The music industry
  • Music arrangement
  • Music theory
  • Composition
  • Song writing

Formal music education will also give you a chance to meet industry professionals, and make friends with other budding musicians and songwriters. You might even end up collaborating with some of them.

Working as a part-time songwriter

Only a tiny percentage of songwriters actually become so successful that they work as a songwriter full-time.

Most songwriters have to find other jobs to work part-time, and look for song writing jobs in their spare time.

You need to consider if this is the sort of life you want to live before deciding to become a freelance songwriter.

How to find work as a freelance songwriter

Like most careers in the arts industries, there is huge competition among songwriters.

You’ll need to put in a lot of work marketing yourself to find work and clients.

Here are a few ways to market yourself:

  • Set up a website: A professional website will make you look more credible. It’s a place to display the songs you’ve written for singers or music publishers, or demos if you haven’t yet done any paid work.
  • Record companies: Submit your song demos to record companies and music publishers, along with your CV.
  • British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA): BASCA represents writers of music. Join them for benefits including free insurance and networking events.
  • Music Jobs Ltd: Music Jobs is an online jobs board for the music industry.

How does a songwriter earn money?

As a songwriter, you’re extremely unlikely to earn a regular wage.

Most songwriters are paid an advance by a record company. If the song you wrote is successful, you’ll earn money from the royalties after the cost of the advance is paid.

Accounting as a freelance songwriter

There are various benefits to freelancing as a songwriter, from the freedom and flexibility to work with a variety of businesses and individuals to doing something you’re passionate about.

But there is one downside – accounting.

As a full-time employee, your tax is usually taken care of on your behalf in the form of PAYE.

As a freelancer you’ll have to keep a range of financial records and then prepare and pay a Self-Assessment tax return at the end of each business year.

Accountancy can be very confusing and can distract you from writing songs.

Getting tax and accountancy advice

With most accountants, you’ll pay them to do your year-end accounts, and then they’ll forget about you until the next year.

But for your business to be run smoothly and successfully, you’ll need advice on tax and accountancy throughout the year, especially in the early days.

Pearl Accountants is different

Pearl Accountants provides an affordable and specialist accountancy service designed just for freelancers.

Throughout the year we’ll be on hand to give you any tax and accountancy advice you might need, including things like:

  • Take-home pay
  • Which VAT scheme to register for
  • Expenses
  • Tax allowances
  • Choosing between sole trader and limited company
  • Running your business in a tax-efficient way

We charge for our accountancy services in a clear and simple way, which means you’ll never receive an unexpected bill, and you can get in touch for advice whenever you want without the worry of being charged a fortune like you would with many other accountants.

Get in touch for more information and advice

For more information and a free consultation call us now on 020 8582 0076

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