Conferences, Studio Business

MTNA 2012 Conference | Prof. Studio Institute: Legal Issues

3:00pm – Ignorance Is Not Bliss: Legal Issues for the IMT

Led by Lee Galloway, Beth Gigante Klingenstein, and Scott McBride Smith.

  • Health insurance – policies are available for self-employed people through MTNA, MENC, and other organizations.
  • Add an extra policy to your homeowner’s or renter’s insurance policy to protect your studio materials and your piano against theft, flood, etc.
  • You can also get extra liability insurance added to protect yourself against lawsuits related to injury, health issues, and sexual misconduct/abuse (always ask the student before you adjust their shoulders, arms, hands, etc. at the piano, and consider video-recording lessons especially if you are a male teacher).
  • Zoning – check what the laws are in your city.  Check for something called a “Home Occupation Permit” or something similar.  This permit allows you to run a business out of your home and might regulate your hours of business, the number of hours you are allowed to teach in a day, whether you can hire an employee, parking, signs, hours of business, etc.  You may be penalized if you have been running your business without the proper permit.  This permit protects you, however, should a neighbor complain about traffic due to your business or something.  If you are legal, you are protected from citation, being fined, or being shut down.
  • Copyright laws – Copying music is illegal, and giving those copies to your students makes them compliant in the crime!  It’s also illegal to distribute sound/video recordings of copyrighted pieces (classical music in the public domain is okay, but anything newer is not okay).  Also be careful about arranging music – first check to see if it is in the public domain.
  • Taxes – keep records of your income and expenses.  Use Form 8829 to declare part of your home for business use so you can expense out a portion of your heat bills, etc.  Use Schedule C to report your profit/loss, and use Schedule SE to calculate self-employment tax.  Use 1040 ES to pay quarterly estimated taxes.  Report all your income and pay alltaxes!
  • Signed policy statements are considered legal documents.  Use the small claims court to collect payment if it becomes necessary (first send 2-3 letters requesting late payment, using increasingly direct language).
  • MTNA offers legal consultation services free of charge exclusively to MTNA members — good to know!

The Saturday “Professional Studio Institute” was a full day with lots of great information!  Stay tuned for more conference notes.

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