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The Musician's Bookkeeper helps make handling finances less taxing for freelance performers

DENTON (UNT), Texas -- University of North Texas College of Music master’s student Kyle McKay was playing a gig with a band in New England when he noticed what turned out to be a common theme – freelance musicians need help with their finances, including tax preparation. That’s what inspired him to create The Musician’s Bookkeeper.

“I mentioned that I needed to keep track of the miles I was driving so I could deduct them on my taxes. The other band members’ minds were blown – they had no idea they could deduct certain performance-related expenses,” McKay said.

McKay, who is also working on a finance degree from Harvard, working three jobs and interning, is a clarinetist who worked for his mom as a bookkeeper growing up. It was during that time that he learned of his proficiency in bookkeeping.

 “It’s something I fell into looking for an outlet outside of music so I wouldn’t lose my love for it,” McKay said. “It’s what I did when I took time off between my undergraduate degree and graduate degrees. I started with basic data entry and eventually got a certification through Quickbooks as a Certified Quickbooks ProAdvisor and now have almost three years’ experience as a bookkeeper.”

He says he was able to create his business with the help from two programs at UNT. He won third place in the Career Development and Entrepreneurship in Music’s inaugural Music Entrepreneurship Competition and second in the College of BusinessWestheimer New Venture Competition for a total of $6,000 in prizes. After he won the competitions, his mother and his fiancé convinced him to take the leap.

“It really gave me the initial capital I needed to start the company – applying for the L.L.C. and getting the technology in order,” McKay said. “It gave me the boost to really get my business going. The initial push can be really difficult. You always hear, ‘anyone can be an entrepreneur,’ but no one ever says exactly how much work it takes to be successful.”

McKay has already landed a big name classical musician/booking agent – Deborah Brooks – and, through her word of mouth, has picked up several more clients.

“I completed financial books for her and her 2016 tax return. She and her CPA called to tell me the books were excellent,” McKay said. “I’ve had other clients tell me I’m their saving grace.”

He also has words of wisdom for others aspiring to become entrepreneurs.

“You can be guided to be an entrepreneur but what you really can’t teach is the dedication and the effort,” McKay said. “You have to just stick it out, blood, sweat and tears all the way, and make it happen.”