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  • Writer's pictureKimmy Dickson

How to Set up As a Sole Trader (Self-employed) As a Musician in UK

Updated: Oct 8, 2021

There’s nothing more gratifying than taking that leap of faith and starting your own business in the United Kingdom as a musician. The first step you’d take is setting up your music business as a self-employed musician or as a sole trader in the UK.

According to The Office of National Statistics U.K, there were more than 5 million self-employed people in the U.K, up from 3.2 million in 2000 by December 2019. Self-employed people, in general, represent 15.3% of employment, up from 12% in 2000.

Of these, there were over 52,000 self-employed Musicians in the U.K alone.

There have been many people who’ve done it before. If they can do it, you can do it too.

Here are a few steps you should take to set up as a sole-trader or a self-employed music professional in the U.K:

Set-up As Sole Trader: Taking care of the basics

Being self-employed is defined as “working for yourself” in the United Kingdom. For all practical purposes, you are a one-person business and the starting point is that you’ll set up as a sole trader (you’ll keep all the business profits after paying the tax due on them).

As such, you’ll also be solely responsible for business assets you keep, the loans you take on (debt), and for all legal requirements asked of you.

There are also certain rules for running your music business and for naming your music business. As for your responsibilities, you’ll have to:

  • Set-up as a sole trader (if applicable)

  • Name your business (normally ends with “Limited” or “Ltd”) and the name cannot be offensive or breach an existing name or trademark.

  • Register for self-assessment

  • Keep pertinent records of revenue, sales, profits, and expenses as they accrue for your business.

  • Register for any necessary and mandated requirements such as registration for VAT (Value Added Tax), Class 2 or Class 4 National Insurance,

  • Send in a self-assessment tax return each year.

  • Pay income tax each year

Learn more from the official website in the U.K for information on how to start as a Self-employed Musician in the U.K.

Also, dig into more details pertaining to setting up as a sole trader musician in the U.K, such as:

Music Industry in the UK: Complexity, Copyrights, The Fine Print

The music industry is complex.

Michael Fuller has over 20+ years of experience in the Music Industry in the U.K and worked with the Association of Independent Music, U.K since 2000. He advocates the need for understanding the intricacies of being on your own especially in a complex environment such as the Music Industry.

Users engage with your music in various formats, content forms, and media. This is not to mention several other formats and platforms such as Spotify, YouTube, downloadable or streamed music, through compact discs, television, radio, events, and live gigs.

As you develop, create, and distribute music, it’s critical to understand the nitty-gritty involved with copyrights (including composition rights, sound recording rights, and performers’ rights).

While growing your business or brand, you might also consider creating music for apps, gaming companies, commercials or ads, independent record labels, and more.

Since there’s a real possibility of getting your body of work copied or ripped off, having a firm understanding of copyrights, licensing, and selling music is crucial for your success as a self-employed musician in the U.K.

Join the Creative Entrepreneurs Club

Impaneled with more than 2000+ members being mentored by over 30+ industry experts and professionals, the Creative Entrepreneurs’ Club is a fun, relaxed, empathetic, and community-driven way to grow your network and for you to establish a sustainable music business.

Joining the Creative Entrepreneurs’ club opens doors to peer review of your work, open opportunities, available gigs, online digital events for creatives (read: musicians), peer-driven meetups, and access to an ever-growing library of resources.

You also get a chance to be involved with tight-knit social groups along with themed networking opportunities.

Finally, get access to valuable masterclasses to learn about all things creative and business-oriented (such as everything you should know about legal implications of running a self-employed business in the U.K or how to stay on the good side of the taxman).

Of course, it takes a lot more to succeed as a solo musician than just these basics but this is a good (and mandated) start. Share your journey as a self-employed musician in the comments below.


Join HyperTribe now to get more advice and tips like this.

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