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Start Your Own Music Business – THE NAME

HeadshotThere are a few legal things to take care of when you start your own music business.  As always, this is based on my own experience.  I’m not an attorney.

BUSINESS NAME

– Choose A Name
                      – Register the Name with your State
                      – Reserve a URL for your Website and Social Media

CHOOSING A NAME

This step should be given plenty of thought.  There are many things to consider.  Does the name describe your business well?  Is it memorable?  Is it available with the state, in social media and as an internet URL?  Can it be confused with another existing business? 

Logo2 “Priddis Music” is what I ended up with for my own business, but it took me some time getting here.  There are some good things about the business name I chose.  No one else was using it.  It was available with the state.  No one was using it in social media or as a URL for a website.  It certainly is unique.  There are also some negative points.  It doesn’t describe my business without adding the “music & audio” part.  It gets pronounced lots of different ways.  In the end, I figured the pros outweighed the cons.  Here’s a benefit I didn’t anticipate.  One of my wholesale customers told me he looked at it as a sign of trust.  If I was willing to put my own name on my business for everyone to see, he figured he could trust me.  I’ll take that. 

 

Home_Studio_LogoWay back in 1983 when I made my first recording, I called myself “Home Studio Accompaniment Tapes”.  There are a couple glaring problems with this one.  Having the word “Tapes” in my business name was pretty short sighted.  Since I started my business, the market has gone through several types of media, including cassette, reel to reel, DAT, CD, CD Video, Laser Disc, ADAT, DVD, and more.  Now there is no media.  We just download everything through the air. 

My original idea with the Home Studio name was to allow my customers to sing at home, as if they had their own recording studio.  If you can believe it, “karaoke” didn’t exist at the time.  But more on the karaoke word later.  I made my recordings at a professional recording studio.  But I realized my name could give the impression that I made the recordings at home.  I wanted my customers to know that these were quality recordings, so the Home Studio Accompaniment Tapes name had to go.

 

YouCanSing_LogoMy next attempt was “You Can Sing”.  This did a pretty good job of telling what the business was about.  But after thinking about it for awhile, I wondered if it said “singing lessons” more than “music you sing to”.  It started sounding a little cheesy to me.  Once again, I didn’t feel it conveyed the idea of a professional product. 

 

 

 

 

ProSound_LogoI decided, if I want to portray a professional image, I’ll just call my business “Pro Sound”.  For some unknown reason, I chose “Pro Sound Distributing” for the name.  It’s true, I was making and distributing product to stores all over the country.  But I wasn’t really a distributor.  I was more like a record label.  The other big problem I didn’t anticipate was how generic the term Pro Sound is.  There were lots of companies with that name, from a radio station to sound equipment to an industry magazine.  I found that out when I tried to register the name as my trademark.  Couldn’t do it.  There were too many other companies out there that had something to do with music.  In the end, I decided to keep the name as my product label – not the company name.

Priddis LogoSo in the end, Priddis Music works best for me (I added the “audio” part when we started doing more audio post production for movies and TV shows).  Hopefully, my road to choosing my company name will help you make a good choice for your own company name.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

REGISTERING YOUR NAME

UT_CorpBefore you start your own music business, you’ll want to reserve your business name with the State.  You have to make sure the name is available and reserved for you before you can officially register your business.  The name can either be your actual business name or a “D.B.A.” (Doing Business As).  Let’s say you want your legal business name to be ABC Corp, but you want to do business with your customers under a name like Joe’s Guitars.  Joe’s Guitars is your DBA, the name you promote out there in the market place.  ABC Corp is the name you use on things like your tax return.  Unless you want to be some big corporate conglomerate, I recommend just one name.  In other words, just make “Joe’s Guitars” your legal business name and DBA.  Keep it simple.

Every state has a Division of Corporations or something similar.  In some states this falls under the office of the Secretary of State.  In Utah you can do everything online.  Here is the link.  http://corporations.utah.gov/index.html

Once you get on the site, click on “Register A New Business”.  Then choose “One Stop Business Registration”.  This is a single application process where you will be able to accomplish many things at once.  You will search business names to see if your choice is available.  If it is, you can reserve the name for your business.  If you plan on selling something, you will receive a Sales Tax Number.  You will get your Federal ID Number (EIN), which you will need for doing such things as opening a business bank account.

 

WEBSITE URL

I think every business needs a website.  It’s just the way we do business these days.  Choosing the right business name will have an affect on how you are found on-line.  If you want your domain name to be the same as your business name, you will have to see if it’s available first.  Priddis.com was easy for me to get.  It’s not a common name.  ProSound, on the other hand, is a different story.  It’s so common, we had to add something to the name.  Luckily, singprosound.com was available.  It works for us, since our website is all about singing to our performance tracks.  I use Godaddy.com for reserving my internet domain names (URL or internet address) and even some hosting.

SOCIAL PAGES

As with internet domains, it’s important to have a presence on Social Networks, like Facebook.  Priddis Music has a Facebook page.  The link to get there is https://www.facebook.com/priddismusic.  I’m so glad Priddis Music wasn’t taken as a Facebook page name.

SUMMARY

Your business name is important.  Take time to think it through and do a little research.  It’s your identity.  If you don’t get it just right the first time, you can always change it.  But the longer you can keep the same name, the more recognized it will become and it will become an asset for you.  Choose well.

 

Benefits Of Starting Your Own Music Business

Rick Priddis explains the benefits of starting your own music business.What are the benefits of starting your own music business?  To Save Money!  Yep, that’s right.  Even if you don’t MAKE money, you can SAVE money by starting a music business.  You don’t have to open a brick and mortar store front to get the benefits of a business.  Anyone who is involved with music in any way can have the benefits of a music business.  Musicians, bands, singers, song writers – whatever your interest, you should start a business.

Here’s why.

        ♦ Taxes – you’ll most likely pay less

        ♦ Credibility – people may see you as more legitimate

        ♦ Legal – you may have a certain amount of personal protection from lawsuits

 

TAXES

Check out some of the things I deduct from my taxes.  Then think of the things YOU could deduct with your own music business.  But first, a disclaimer.  I’m not an accountant.  You should check with one.

My main business is making and selling performance music for singers (really good karaoke music).  I license my recordings to movies and TV shows.  I rent out my recording studio.  Based on that, here is what I deduct from my income, before paying taxes.

The benefits of starting your own music business include deducting research - like movies and music.   
    Research & Development

      I deduct the cost of every

          ♦  Movie

          ♦  Show

          ♦  Concert

          ♦  TV service

          ♦  Radio or internet music service

          ♦  Music entertainment of any kind



How can I do this?  My customers want to sing to the most popular songs.  I have to figure out what is popular and what will sell over the long term.  I have to be out there researching it – at concerts, on the radio and TV. 

I’ve licensed my music to TV shows like American Idol, X Factor, America’s Got Talent, Family Guy, Oprah and Movies like Despicable Me 2 and This Is 40.  I have to know what they’re using by watching TV and movies.

Some of my best sellers are from Broadway musicals.  So, of course, I go to Broadway shows and write it off my taxes.

The benefits of starting your own music business include deducting advertising.  It may justify buying that new vehicle.

Advertising

A fun vehicle like an RV can be a huge expense or a nice tax write off.  I wrapped my RV with advertising and drove it to trade shows and events.  Even when I drove it on family trips, it was a traveling billboard. 

The benefits of starting your own music business include deducting research - like music downloads.   

Recording Costs

Just about any expense involved with making
my recordings is deductible.

      ♦  Songs I download
          (for research or for reference)

      ♦  Sheet music

      ♦  Musicians I pay

      ♦  Smaller pieces of equipment or software




The benefits of starting your own music business include deducting the cost of assets, like recording equipment and instruments.

Assets

Assets are higher cost items like recording equipment and musical instruments.  They are deductible, but usually over time, rather than right away.  That’s called “depreciation”.

      ♦  Recording studio equipment

      ♦  Musical instruments

      ♦  Expensive software

 


And Lots More

There are too many possible deductions to list, but here are a few more

      ♦  Business lunches and dinners

      ♦  Travel expenses

      ♦  Marketing expenses –  like website and internet costs

      ♦  Bank charges

The benefits of starting your own music business include credibility.CREDIBILITY

When you have a real business, with a name and logo, and you have a title – like “president”, people will look at you differently.  You will appear more legitimate.   Have you ever been talking to someone and they ask you for your business card?  Don’t you wish you had one?  Even if it’s an electronic business card, passed through the air between cell phones, you’ll get more respect if you have something to give them.

LEGAL

Another disclaimer.   I’m not an attorney.  But after 30 years in business, I have lots of legal experience.  Some people may tell you, if you are incorporated, your personal assets are protected if your business is sued.  Well, unless you are a big corporation, with executives and a board of directors, you probably aren’t totally safe.  Most likely, your business includes you and no one else.  Because of this, attorneys these days generally name the owner of a small business, personally, along with the business.  So don’t assume you can do anything you want and get away with it, hiding behind the “corporate shield”.  Attorneys will break right through it.

In my experience, here’s one of the legal benefits of starting your own music business, no matter how small.  I have business liability insurance, with something called “errors and omissions” coverage.  If I unintentionally make a mistake and I get sued for it, my insurance may cover the cost or defend me.  Several years ago, a music publisher sued me.  I was faithful at getting licenses for the music I sold and I always paid my royalties.  But I happened to give some of my music to a company who made a kids karaoke player.  They were including my music in their product as samples.  I didn’t make anything on it.  For me it was just advertising.  When this company had their product made in China, they were supposed to get licenses for the music samples from the music publishers.  Unfortunately they failed to do this.  One of the music publishers sued them and I got pulled into the lawsuit as well.  Long story short, my insurance company went to bat for me.  It took about a year to work through it and the insurance company spent about half a million dollars on my behalf, but it finally got settled and I stayed in business.  If I had been working without the benefit of a business and business liability insurance, I wouldn’t have lasted long in that legal battle.

WHAT’S NEXT?

In my next article, I’ll tell you the details about how to set up your business.

 
© 2015 Priddis