Kevin HolmesI had the pleasure of interviewing a good friend and former professional musician, Kevin Holmes, about the world of financial planning for musicians. Kevin is a rare find–someone who spent more than a decade as a professional musician then transitioned into a successful career as a financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial. Kevin understands the unique financial issues musicians face because he experienced them first hand.

Below is a short question and answer session we had concerning the most common financial pitfalls musicians find themselves in. Obviously, this interview only scratches the surface of this important component of every professional musician’s life. I encourage you to add a comment below with additional questions or contact Kevin directly to discuss how he can help you secure your financial future.

IG: What are the top three mistakes musicians make in preparing for their financial future?

KH: 1) Not acknowledging that they are small business owners.

Because much of their income is generated through self-employment, musicians should consider themselves as small business owners. The key is to adopt a business owner’s mentality. They must allocate specific time among marketing, generating new business, servicing existing clients, keeping up with their craft and performing the job. Consult a tax professional to see if forming an S-corporation or a LLC might be advantageous from a tax and retirement funding perspective. For example, a small business owner or self-employed individual can establish a SEP-IRA, which allow for greater annual contributions than a traditional IRA.

2) Not getting signed contracts.

Many musicians hesitate to ask for a written agreement. Often times they are unaware of the liability and income protection that a contract from a good lawyer can provide. If a composer decides to divide future royalty income streams with another party, a verbal agreement may not be sufficient to legally cement the terms of the agreement. For the best legal protection, regardless of the discomfort it brings, musicians need to obtain a succinct legal contract from an attorney to protect their interests.

3) Not having a plan for their financial future.

Without clearly defined goals, we may be less motivated to save a portion of our current income for a major purchase or retirement. Many people just “save to save” and often wonder “why am I doing this?” This lack of clarity veers us off of a long-term retirement savings strategy or major purchase goal. Younger musicians tend to believe retirement is far away in a distant future and not worth saving for right now. However, this is the most crucial time to fund a retirement savings account. Compounding interest accrues value over time and the best time for a retirement investment plan is when you are relatively young. This allows for multiple decades of potential appreciation.

IG: Are there any common misconceptions about insurance you wish to debunk?

KH: I believe the most important asset we have is ourselves. If we cannot perform, compose or arrange, then we will not earn enough to fund our retirement savings accounts, emergency funds, investment portfolios, musical equipment and studio gear. I see our biggest risk as being the inability to earn due to an injury or illness. Disability insurance designed to replace our current income if we become unable to work is crucial for working musicians. Health Insurance is vital for musicians to help alleviate the financial burden of a major medical procedure. Business overhead insurance, life insurance and long-term care insurance should also be on our short list of policies to consider.

IG: Tell us a bit about what you do and why you care about musicians.

KH: I am a Financial Advisor with Ameriprise Financial but had a career in music for nearly 15 years. Throughout my music career, I encountered a multitude of “older” musicians without any substantial retirement savings. Unfortunately, these musicians need to work long after traditional retirement age as defined by Social Security. Also, many younger musicians become so busy with the daily “grind,” that planning for a secure financial future falls by the wayside. My goal is to educate and create a detailed and comprehensive financial plan to reach the specific goals of each self-employed artist. In essence, I work as a personal CFO for clients to help them develop specific and actionable strategies aimed at achieving their financial dreams and goals.

IG: What is the best way to reach you?

KH: Here is my contact information:

Kevin Holmes
Financial Advisor
Feiger, Soulios and Associates
A financial advisory practice of Ameriprise Financial Services Inc.

Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc.
3027 Townsgate Rd Suite 205
Westlake Village, CA 91361
Tel: (805) 277 5168
Fax: (805) 277 5156
Kevin.Holmes@ampf.com
CA Insurance #0H73287
We shape financial solutions for a lifetime®

Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc. offers financial advisory services, investments, insurance and annuity products. RiverSource® and Columbia ManagementSM products are offered by affiliates of Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., Member FINRA and SIPC.

I was recently interviewed by Brian Thompson of Thorny Bleeder on The Music Biz Weekly podcast. My hope is that our chat will serve as a good introduction to copyright law for musicians. We discussed a lot of topics–including the fundamentals for those who are new to the topic and some complexities for the seasoned copyright geeks. I think you’ll agree, Brian’s no B.S. style and dedication to helping musicians is a breath of fresh air.

The Music Biz Weekly, a weekly podcast co-hosted by Michael Brandvold and Brian Thompson. Each week they interview movers and shakers in the music business and discuss music marketing techniques for the DIY independent musician, among other things. For more information about the podcast and Thorny Bleeder’s vast collection of resources for musicians visit ThornyBleeder.com.

Enjoy the video? Please share your thoughts below in the comments and be sure to join my email list to receive up dates on legal issues for musicians and other creative entrepreneurs.

I recently sat down with Kyle Williams from the popular website Seeds of Music for an interview on how to protect your music and the importance of copyright law for musicians. Seeds of Music is a blog dedicated to helping aspiring musicians acquire the tools necessary to reach success–a mission close to my heart.

I thoroughly enjoyed my discusion with Kyle. To learn more about him and the Seeds of Music blog visit SeedsofMusic.net

Enjoy the video? Please share your thoughts below in the comments and be sure to join my email list to receive up dates on legal issues for artists and creative entrepreneurs.

The adoring crowd of Hogni by Sebastian Anthony, CC Attribution-NoDerivs License

The adoring crowd of Hogni by Sebastian Anthony, CC Attribution-NoDerivs License

Agreeing on a band name can be painfully difficult.

Growing up in a series of bands with close friends — who seemed to agree on virtually everything else — I was shocked by how long it would take us to see eye to eye on a name. Once we settled on a name, we would scramble to see if it was available only to find that someone beat us to the punch. Crushed, we would start the process all over again.

Can you relate?

We all put so much effort into crafting the perfect band name because we understood the importance of this element of our branding. Having a memorable name that expresses something about your group is a critical step toward building a following and a lasting career.

Unfortunately, though, some groups run into trouble. If you discovered another band starting using your name, what would you do?  Would you dig in your heels and fight or abandon the name you love?

If you are anything like me, you would do whatever you could to stop them. After all, isn’t your band name – that name you worked so hard to find – worth fighting for?

Imagine the consequences if you don’t: the fans you’ve made through touring and selling records will be totally confused and potentially lost if this copycat grows in popularity, leaving you back at square one. This is a problem that needs to be addressed and a trademark registration is one of the most powerful tools you can have to resolve the issue.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF TRADEMARK REGISTRATION? 

Federal trademark registration benefits include: Continue Reading…

Copyright Symbol Ian GibsonStatutory damages for copyright infringement is a concept that frequently comes up when discussing the benefits of copyright registration or potential recovery in a copyright infringement lawsuit.  It can be a bit confusing to those that are unfamiliar with the term.  However, like most things in the law, you can figure out what a term means by breaking it down into smaller parts.

“Statutory” means something that is required, permitted, or enacted by statute.  Essentially, this term describes any written law.  “Damages” refers to monetary compensation awarded in a civil action — in other words, money won in a lawsuit.  Statutory damages, thus, refers to any monetary awards won pursuant to a statute.

In the copyright infringement context, statutory damages flow from a written law — namely, 17 USC § 504.  This code section provides for the recovery of a range of monetary awards under certain conditions.  Standard, run-of-the-mill copyright infringement statutory damages range between Continue Reading…