Why Do Musicians Need to Think About Finance?

#MusiciansandFinance is musicovation’s blog series exploring finance for musicians. All posts are contributed by graduate students in New England Conservatory’s Entrepreneurial Music course  Finance 101: What Musicians Need to Know taught by NEC alum Jessi Rosinski

by Bo Lee

Through taking “Finance 101: What Musicians Need To Know”, I have learned about the inner workings of artistic organizations and discovered new ways of keeping tabs on my personal finances, among many other things! The course has been immensely helpful to me, and while many musicians would find studying finance masochistic, I have gotten my left-brained jollies from keeping track of numbers.

Most people would agree that a “successful” artist not only has brilliant creative ability, but also competency in “real-world” workings. Well, that is exactly what this course has helped me with. Finances are always a scary thing to handle, much less to think about. Seeing real-world models, exercises, and balance sheets definitely makes finance much more approachable.

Musicians usually have an income that is not always fixed, so it is important to keep track of our cash flow. Since the assignment from our second class titled Mapping Money”, I have continued recording all of my expenses. At this point in our lives as graduate students, our cash flow is extremely off-balance since many of us are not experiencing a substantial income.

In time though, my private teaching studio will grow, I will establish a local gigging presence, and hopefully also land a “job”. Then, my record-keeping will become more balanced, and even swayed in the opposite direction (inflow > outflow). Learning about how to manage our finances and make them approachable is essential to our practical well-being.

Although we have definitely shared the articles about orchestra strikes and ignorant anti-art advertisements, there is always good news each week. This is especially striking to me. As we view our expenses, the cost of tuition, and try to fathom how to begin paying off student loans, it is nice to see all of the good news presented each week in this course.

In the normal world of finance and stocks, numbers go up and numbers go down. The same is true for finance relating to the arts. The thing that is different in finances relating to the arts is the heart behind each and every one of those instances. We are creating something so invaluable that even when the numbers go down or we get bad news, there are always people fighting for the cause to thrive again.

We want the musicians to be paid what they deserve. We want that museum to restore that painting from the 17th century. And while we want the Dow Jones and NASDAQ to preform well also, there is something else behind finances related to artists. We put heart and soul in to fighting for our cause because what we do is subliminally ethereal. We just need to tools and support to make it financially sustainable as well.

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