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What Can You Expense as a Freelancer? The Musician Edition 🎸

By Lili • Mar 22, 2021

Before the entire freelancing community started using it, the word “gig” originally referred to a live performance by musicians. Gig is short for the word “engagement” and was originally coined in the ’20s by jazz musicians. So, musician friends, you gave us the word gig, in return Lili we give you the word deduction and a series of tax tools to take full advantage of it! (Lili is available on iOS and Android)

Instruments, hardware, and recording sessions

  • Guitars
  • Amplifiers
  • Microphone,
  • USB MIDI Keyboard Controller
  • Piano Tuning
  • Rehearsal studio…

Everything and anything you buy to play and record music can be deducted from your taxes.

Music sheets

  • Music Books,
  • Leadsheets
  • Books
  • Publications & Technical Literature…

Whether it’s a subscription to a tablature website or the songbook from your favorite artist, everything and anything you buy to learn how to play new songs for your next engagement is part of your work expenses.

Gig night

  • Transportation
  • Lodging
  • 50% of your meals
  • Wardrobe (exclusive stage wear only)
  • Booking commissions…

Everything and any costs associated with gig nights (or multi-city tours) can be deducted from your taxes.

Computer Software and Hardware

  • Computer Interface, Monitor, Headphones
  • Subscription to services (Google, SoundCloud…),
  • Subscription or purchase of software (Pro Tools, Cubase…)
  • Cell phone bill and data usage,

Everything and anything you use to keep your business afloat when your screens are on.

Online Presence

  • Domain registration,
  • Digital Ads,
  • Print Ads
  • Website hosting,
  • Website Services,

Everything you spend to market yourself online is tax-deductible.

Office Expense

  • Pens and pencils,
  • Paper and envelopes, staplers…
  • If you still do things the old way, all your office supplies are still tax-deductible.

Jamming-from-home Expenses

  • If you use a part of your garage exclusively for rehearsals or other business matters, you can deduct the percentage of that space on your rent and/or mortgage. Note that the IRS also offers a simplified option for this: $5 per square ft, capped at 300sq/ft.
  • Desk, furniture and decor,
  • Portion of your utility bills (water, electricity, internet)
  • Portion of your property/renter’s insurance…

Client Meeting

If you meet potential clients face-to-face, 50% of the cost of the food and drinks on the table between you is tax-deductible. 


No matter the type of vehicle you used to go meet that client, whatever you spent to get on that vehicle or make that vehicle move is a work expense (tickets, gas, parking & tolls, maintenance…). If you use your own car, track your mileage and check how much you can deduct per mile for the current year.

Classes and Training

Did you take a class to learn a new instrument or any other new skill that can make you more efficient or expand your offerings? These expenses are tax-deductible.

Subscription and dues

  • Legal and accounting fees
  • Business bank & credit card fees
  • Agent/manager commissions
  • Magazine subscriptions,
  • Streaming service subscription …

Whatever you spend to keep your business in good standing and stay up to date with entertainment, fashion, or music trends is part of your work expenses.

Health Insurance

You gotta be protected and in good health to play live! All your health expenses (premiums, out-of-pocket expenses, dental, vision…) are tax-deductible EXCEPT if you’re covered under a spouse or a relative’s plan.

Music Festival

If you participate in a business conference or walk around at a music festival looking for inspiration, the cost of your trips (conference pass, tickets, 50% of your meals, hotels) is deductible.

Disclaimer: This list isn’t exhaustive. For more details and information, please refer to this IRS article regarding business expenses.

Click here for the Beauty Artist edition.
Click here for the Foodie edition.
Click here for the Social Influencer edition
Click here for the Driver’s edition.
Click here for the Designer’s edition. 

Written by
Team Lili

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