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This article was published 7/2/2017 (1683 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
There aren’t many accountants in Winnipeg who measure savings in sandwiches, but for Jesse and Shane Matthewson, it’s a system that isn’t just comical, it’s also practical.
The scenario arose during the five years the brothers were on the road full-time as two-thirds of the Juno Award-winning noise-rock band KEN mode, where any extra cash was converted into sandwich units, so they would, somewhat jokingly, know how many days they could eat for while on tour.
"For example, I switched our business bank account and we saved 15 sandwiches this year," says Shane, laughing.
But the joke is actually a window into the kind of expertise the pair bring to their newest venture, MKM Management Service — a family business rebranded to focus on helping small businesses and those in the artistic community get their finances in order. As both musicians and owners of business degrees, the Matthewsons understand how to maximize revenues and reduce costs, and how to translate sometimes overwhelming financial jargon into a language that makes sense to a group of their musical peers without being condescending.
MKM has been active for just under a year and offers a range of services to its clientele, including accounting and income-tax preparation, business planning and grant-writing services. Most of the company’s personal tax-return clients are from around Winnipeg, but MKM works with people and businesses all over Canada.
"The long and short of it was we had been touring for five years straight as a full-time job and more or less completely burning out, and we needed to find a way to actually make some money and maybe actually live like adults for the first time in a long time," says Jesse, 35.
"Shane’s a CA, CPA... and I worked in accounting and small business management, so essentially we’re doing the same stuff we were before, but we’re applying it to the world we’ve been living in for the past six years. It kind of felt like a natural extension."
"Because of the combo of our skills, me being the more numbers and accounting guy and him being the marketing guy... and our shared experience really made it a no-brainer. We’re really good at being a one-two punch," adds Shane, 33.
Generally speaking, artists aren’t known for their organization. This is something the Matthewsons have encountered often — band members who go years without filing anything, don’t keep track of the cash they use on tour or don’t think they need to file their taxes because they (sometimes incorrectly) assume they aren’t making any money.
"I find that so many people, they won’t know what to do for, say, filing their tax returns, so they just don’t do it. And then seven years later they go, ‘Yeah I haven’t done any of this, is that bad?’ And I’m like, ‘You know it’s gonna be bad’," says Shane.
"But, it’s better knowing than not knowing."
On the flip side, sometimes artists aren’t deducting and claiming as much as they could, but Shane says, thanks to their experience, he and Jesse know where to poke and prod for more, potentially valuable, information.
"It sometimes changes the amount tax they owe by thousands of dollars, so it’s just knowing those leading questions to ask," says Shane.
"Artists are inherently flighty and aren’t known for being organized, but if you can force yourself to be organized, it will pay off monetarily."
Shane has travelled all over Canada to different music-industry events to give presentations on accounting and tax for musicians (his next one is at Manitoba Music March 2 at 6 p.m., just in time for tax season) and says he gets the feeling a lot of musicians are more comfortable talking finances with "someone who knows their world."
For those who aren’t yet ready to take the plunge in seeking professional help for their tax turmoil, the Matthewsons have three pieces of advice to help get anyone on the right path:
"Keep your receipts, manage your cash, and if you’re thinking about accounting, talk to someone like us sooner rather than later so you know what you need to do and know where you’re at."
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Erin Lebar is a multimedia producer who spends most of her time writing music- and culture-related stories for the Arts & Life section. She also co-hosts the Winnipeg Free Press's weekly pop-culture podcast, Bury the Lede.