Tracking Your Band's Finances
If you log all your band's financial transactions -- income and expenses -- into BandHelper, it can calculate your total earnings and help you distribute the earnings fairly among your bandmates. You can watch a demo video, or read on for more details:
- Click Finance in the main menu, and you'll see your existing transactions if you've entered any.
- Click the Add a Transaction button and you'll see the Transaction Edit page.
- Enter the date of the transaction, enter a name that describes it (e.g., "CD sales") and set the category. Transaction categories are grouped as either income, expenses or distributions (we'll explain distributions in a moment). You can define your own categories in Finance > Categories.
- Select the single user who either received the income (e.g., got paid by a venue) or paid an expense or distribution (e.g., bought gas on the way to a gig).
- Select all the users affected by the transaction. This would include all the users who performed a gig, or who are sharing in the earnings from sales of a CD.
- By default, transaction amounts are shared equally by the selected users. To override this, you can enter dollar amounts for individual users in the Shares section of the transaction edit page. These shares must add up to the total amount before you can save. To return to equal shares, you can click the Defaults button in the Shares section.
- Click Save, then click Transactions in the submenu and you should see your transaction listed.
Repeat these steps as needed. In many cases, you will log several transactions at a time. For example, after a performance you might log one transaction for the fee paid by the venue, another for tips received and a third for merchandise sales. You might also log the expenses for that performance, such as food shared by the band, equipment rentals or gas. You can optionally click the Defaults button at the top of an event edit page to copy the name, date and users from the previous event.
Remember that you can log the transactions from your phone at the gig. It's best to do this right away so you don't forget what to enter!
After you've logged some transactions, you can see how it's all adding up for you and your bandmates.
- Click Finance in the main menu, then Totals in the submenu. A chart appears, listing each active user in your account.
- For each user, you'll see the following items:
- Income: The amount that this user has earned from being in the band. Income for a transaction is shared equally among the users selected for that transaction, unless you override the user shares on the transaction edit page. If you always use equal shares but the chart shows different incomes for different users, that's because some users weren't included in some transactions -- for example, one user was not present at a gig.
- Expenses: The amount of the band's expenses that this user has contributed to. Like income, expenses are shared equally among the users selected for that transaction, unless you override the user shares on the transaction edit page.
- Received: The amount of money this user has actually been paid from the band. This should match the Income value minus the Expenses, Saved and Owed values.
- Saved: The amount of this user's earnings that have been placed into a savings fund rather than paid to the user, and not yet spent.
- Owed: The amount of money this user has earned, minus expenses and savings, but not yet received. Some users will have a negative Owed value (a number in parentheses). This means those users have collected some of the band's income and are still holding it until it can be spent, deposited or distributed to other band members. The total of all the Owed values should equal 0.
- To see the details behind these totals, you can click Transactions in the submenu, then set the filters to show a particular kind of transaction. For example, you could view all the expenses for your band, or view all the transactions for a particular user.
BandHelper takes the guesswork out of dividing the money by showing you exactly how much each bandmate is owed.
If you're one of the users with a negative Owed value, this means you will be paying money to your bandmates at some point. For example, if you collect a $400 fee for playing a show, and you're splitting that equally with three bandmates, your Owed value will be ($300) and theirs will be $100 each. You will need to pay $100 to each bandmate to bring your Owed value down to 0 and theirs up to 0. This is called a distribution because the money is simply changing hands within the band -- it is not an income or expense. When you're ready to distribute money to your bandmates, you should log this in BandHelper as well:
- From the Finance > Totals page, you'll see a Distribute button next to each user who is owed money. Click one of the Distribute buttons and you'll see a new Transaction Edit page.
- When logging a distribution, BandHelper assumes some values and fills them in for you. You can override these if needed:
- Date: BandHelper assumes you're making the distribution today.
- Category: BandHelper selects the first category in your account grouped as a Distribution. You probably won't have more than one.
- Name: BandHelper sets a name "Distribution to [username]."
- Amount: by default, the distribution amount is set to the total amount owed. You could lower this amount if you want to continue holding some earnings -- for example, if you're saving for a big expense that's coming up soon. You could also raise or lower the amount to round it off, to make cash payments easier. Any difference will be carried over to the next distribution, so it will all equal out eventually.
- Paid by: this assumes you are making the distribution, but you should change this if someone else is making the distribution and you are logging it for them.
- Received by: this is the user whose Distribute button you clicked.
- After updating these values if needed, click Save and then click Totals in the submenu to return to the Totals page. You should see that your Owed value has gone up toward 0 (from a negative value) and the other user's Owed value has gone down toward 0.
- Remember that unless you distributed the full amount owed, the other user's value still won't equal 0, but any remaining value will be carried forward.
- Remember that logging a distribution means that you are literally giving money to a bandmate. Don't forget to actually distribute the money! :-)
Managing savings funds
BandHelper is primarily designed for bands whose members receive income and pay for expenses directly, without the use of a shared bank account. It reduces the need for a bank account by tracking which band members are currently holding any of the band's available profit so that it can eventually be distributed. However, some bands still prefer to use a bank account, and BandHelper can track those and display current account balances. Other bands don't literally use bank accounts but like to set aside some of their profits for future use, and BandHelper can track that, too. BandHelper calls either a real bank account or an informal savings plan a "fund." Here are some notes about how to use them:
- To add a fund to your account, click Finance > Funds > Add a Fund, and enter a name. You can also enter a starting balance for existing funds that already have money in them.
- You can select a fund when logging these types of transactions:
- Income: If you receive money that you deposit directly into one of your funds, such as a check made out to the band's name and deposited into the band's checking account, you can select the fund it was deposited into, instead of the band member who received it. In the Shared By field, you would select all the band members who helped earn that income, such as the band members who performed a gig.
- Expense: If you pay for an expense directly from one of your funds, such as with a debit card connected to the band's checking account, you can select the fund it was paid from, instead of the band member who paid it. In the Shared By field, you would select all the band members who will benefit from the expense, such as the band members who are participating in an album recording project.
- Deposit: If a band member who is holding some of the band's money deposits it into a fund, such as cash received after a gig and deposited into a bank account the next day, you can select the band member who deposited it and the fund it was deposited into. In the Shared By field, you would select all the band members who helped earn that income. In this scenario, you would have an earlier Income transaction showing the band's money being received by the band member, followed by the Deposit transaction when the deposit was made. This is similar to logging a single Income transaction, but shows where the money was held between receiving it and depositing it into the fund. A Deposit transaction is also useful if you receive cash, distribute some of it to band members, and deposit the rest into a fund. That scenario would involve one Income transaction, several Distribution transactions when the initial cash is paid out, and one Deposit transaction when the remaining cash is deposited. If someone joins the band and you want to ask them for an additional contribution toward a large expense, you could log a Deposit transaction and select only that member in the Shared By field.
- Withdrawal: If a band member withdraws some of the band's money from one of your funds, such as cash withdrawn from an ATM to pay for band expenses, you can select the band member who withdrew it and the fund it was withdrawn from. The Totals page will then show that money being held by the band member who made the withdrawal until he or she spends it, and logs that as an Expense transaction. In the Shared By field, you would select all the band members who will benefit from the expense for which the money is being withdrawn. If someone leaves the band and you want to refund them their contributions to the fund that have not yet been spent, you could log a Withdrawal transaction and select only that member in the Shared By field.
- If you use BandHelper to track your funds, you must log every transaction related to that fund. Otherwise, the fund balances displayed in BandHelper won't be accurate.
- If your band does not have a real bank account, it can still use a fund to track its savings, such as money set aside to record an album. In this case, the band can establish a physical location to store that fund's money, like a jar or shoebox, or designate a single band member to hold it. In the latter case, that band member should understand that he or she is responsible for providing the balance of the fund when the band needs it.
- You cannot delete a fund that has been selected on any transactions, and you cannot deactivate a fund that has a balance. If you no longer wish to use a fund, one of your band members can withdraw all the money from it, to spend, distribute or deposit into another fund. That will bring the fund's balance to 0 so you can deactivate it.
Additional notes about finances
- If you'd like to view totals for a given time period, you can use the filters on the Totals page. Don't forget to reset the filters when you're done, because they will be reloaded next time you log in and the totals might look wrong if you've forgotten that the filters are still active.
- In order to keep each users' financial info private from the others, you can turn on the Personal Finances Only option on the user edit page for each person but the band leader. Then those band members will only see their share of transactions and will not be able to add or edit transactions. Also, they will not be able to see other users' transactions or totals, and will not see the Pay field on the event edit page.