Business or Pleasure ?

Being in the music industry, and self-employed, you will find yourself living and breathing your work.  Despite this, you cannot claim all your expenses. Our friend Marie Delort from Simply Office Solutions has this to say:



In a normal world the rules would be that you cannot claim for coffees you get on your way to work, the gym to keep your stamina up, or all your broadband and mobile costs. However, a musician or performer’s life is complicated and you have special treatment:

  • Coffee on the way to work – If you are on tour, or travelling to a recording studio (like BonaFideStudio) then a cup of coffee would form part of your subsistence allowance
  • Gym membership – This could be deductible if your performance relied on your physical appearance however HMRC are quite strict in this area so double check with your bookkeeper or accountant first
  • Broadband and Mobile costs – Work calls can be claimed for but remember that if you have an all inclusive package then you cannot. The same goes for your broadband costs as you would have had it whether you worked for yourself or someone else anyway.

Here is a list of some allowable performer’s expenses:

  • Agent and booking fees
  • Professional subscriptions
  • Trade subscriptions/memberships
  • Travel to and from auditions or recording studios
  • Food and drink (subsistence) – ie you are recording your latest album at BonaFide Studio and will need to eat lunch and have a cup of tea
  • Hotel expenses (but not the bar bill please)
  • Motor expenses and mileage
  • Clothing and footwear – only items bought specifically for performances. If you wear it home, you can’t claim it!
  • Music scores, downloaded music and backing tracks
  • Instruments and instrument maintenance – hire, repair, insurance etc
  • Stationery – all can be claimed if it is work related
  • Accounting and bookkeeping fees

The list goes on… We could sit here and write another page of allowable expenses but we know that you probably have better things to do! So in short, here is a link to the HMRC website which explains clearly what you can and cannot claim:

On another note (did you see what I did here!), we shall leave you with these tips:

  • Keep all your receipts in date order (not category order) as it will save you or your bookkeeper so much time
  • All breakdown and budgeting is done month by month
  • Every type of work has it’s own expense and you will know what is bought for your work ie. Sheet music, music stands, paint, brushes, tools, printer cartridges, etc., but it worth remembering that the more tax you pay, the more money you are making!

Write to them if you need help.

Marie Delort – Simply Office Solutions


2 thoughts on “Business or Pleasure ?

  1. Great blog! This is a problem that a lot of people who work from home come up against, but particularly musicians when you think of travelling costs, fitness, and what it takes to keep creativity up! It is easy to get complacent when being self-employed, but if you’re going to stay on top of your finances then you’ve got to stick to some rules!

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