W-9 but you’re not getting paid?

Discussion in 'Band Management [BG]' started by SLIV, Jul 1, 2022.

  1. SLIV


    Jul 16, 2009
    North Carolina, USA
    The brand new band I’m playing with is booking our very first show. The venue is trying us out and we are playing for free but they are comping us food. Yeah, not a good idea/deal but that’s what the band leader agreed to.

    Band leader was given a W-9 to fill out. Since we are not getting paid, should he sign it? What if they say he must or no deal? Any insights to this situation?

  2. 51PRI


    Aug 7, 2014
    No, unless he is just getting all of the paperwork done in advance of the time when you start playing paying gigs.
  3. MonetBass

    MonetBass ♪ Just listen ♫ Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2006
    Tulsa, OK
    Nope. No income = no taxes. What's the point?
  4. Hmmm, I'd question what this venue owner is trying to do...possibly some kind of scheme to treat inflated amounts for your complimentary food as expenses and book it as a monetary payment???

    As a business owner, one concrete thing that defines whether you are required to report 1099 non-employee or contractor compensation is if it's over $600 for the year.

    Trying to figure out a legitimate reason here, I suppose it's possible that this venue typically pays bands more than $600 per year, and it's simply a policy to have all bands that "start" playing there submit a W-9, so that it's on file in the event that pay on the year exceeds $600.
  5. SLIV


    Jul 16, 2009
    North Carolina, USA
    I think that might have been the reason stated. It just makes me wonder why be proactive when you could just do it next time, when actually paid.

    I was curious if any of this is normal. Thank you all for the responses.
  6. JRA

    JRA my words = opinion Supporting Member

    i'm with @51PRI and @drpepper = that it's SOP for the venue: in advance of you guys having one or more gigs there.

    i've played lots of gigs where the w-9 is sent way in advance of the actual show.
    Winoman, 31HZ, One Way and 2 others like this.
  7. If everything is done the same way every time, there's never a question of whether or not it was done
    SoCal80s, Winoman, 31HZ and 4 others like this.
  8. LBS-bass


    Nov 22, 2017
    It's also possible that the office person or whoever is in charge of sending that out to bands has no idea what sort of compensation the band is receiving. It's just something they do for everyone.
    SoCal80s, Winoman, 31HZ and 5 others like this.
  9. James Collins

    James Collins Guest

    Mar 25, 2017
    I would guess if you are doing this sort of thing seriously and often to make money you would also setup an LLC to receive the money's and limit the employee's liability.

    Otherwise I agree about the w9 being unnecessary. The business may have also dealt with paying acts and then having them disappear and not being able to get w9s filled out when they do their taxes. Could also deal with their insurance. Just spit balling though.
  10. sean_on_bass


    Dec 29, 2005
    Kind of strange if they aren't paying you for the gig and are "trying you out." Like others said, if they plan to book you in the future then they would want that on file. Either that or they are just confused. I'd be hesitant to fill it out and if they have a problem with that...well how about they just pay you?
  11. mdogs

    mdogs Supporting Member

    What is the harm in filling it out? Just get it signed, it will make it easier when and if your BL decides your band should NEVER work for free!
    truand85 and mikewalker like this.
  12. SLIV


    Jul 16, 2009
    North Carolina, USA
    That’s what I’m learning.

    I’m not the band leader and my prior experiences are “back in the day” with dive bars and cash only. If I were in charge I’d get the paperwork in order now. As this is our first show, the realities are appearing quick!
  13. Koog

    Koog Supporting Member

    Dec 27, 2010
    Central Iowa USA
    If the band wants to work there, under the conditions presented by the venue, do the paperwork.

    No sense letting them know before you start that the band will be difficult to work with.

  14. DrewD

    DrewD Supporting Member

    Oct 25, 2020
    Vancouver Island
    It sounds like the venue just has a policy to prevent screw ups "No one takes the stage unless a W-9 is signed first". That way they don't have to keep track of who signed and who hasn't yet, etc. etc.

    If a venue employee has any discretion as to if and when the form is signed, that discretion will inevitably, sooner or later, result in some kind of screw up. So solve the problem before it arises.
  15. Ukiah Bass

    Ukiah Bass

    May 10, 2006
    I'm a contract ghostwriter for tech firms. Not a word is written until the W-9 and other documents are signed by both parties. "If you don't have it in writing, you don't have a deal." Creating the W-9 is Standard Operating Procedure for a legitimate business that allows it to deduct the fee as a business expense and have documentation to prove to the IRS and state tax dept. that all is in order. It also enables the IRS and state tax dept. to track every penny you are paid by the venue. Don't overthink this! (And be sure to report the income on your tax return!)
    Zoffy, Koog, UnderTheRadar and 2 others like this.
  16. CryingBass

    CryingBass Just a Fool Whose Intentions are Good Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 8, 2016
    bingo. Std procedure in many businesses these days.
    UnderTheRadar, coy garcia and kentiki like this.
  17. dbsfgyd1


    Jun 11, 2012
    Mascoutah, IL
    Good post and solid recommendation. Good to have the owner tell you why this is required.
    smogg likes this.
  18. Meals/drinks may or may not be considered compensation depending on the situation. Consult your local tax advisor.

    If you do fill it out, better hope that they don't declare that they have paid you money you never receive.
    salcott and smogg like this.
  19. RichSnyder

    RichSnyder Columbia, MD Supporting Member

    Jun 19, 2003
    Do you have and EIN for the band? If not and you're using the SSN of the band leader just be aware that you should have everything accounted for tax wise so that members are all paid and the leader gets stuck with the tax liability. I only mention this because you seem hesitant to fill out a W-9.
    TomB likes this.
  20. coy garcia

    coy garcia

    Jan 18, 2020
    It's normal procedure to fill out in advance where I am. No worry about the w9, if you agreed to play for free than there will be nothing to report at the end of the year.. Some places require to have one on file and some cities require the band to get a annual permit....lame and not always followed but such is life :D
    SoCal80s likes this.

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