Accounting Software in Studios
Accounting software has an outsized, sometimes detrimental role in the operation of recording studios. For many studios, accounting software is their first and only “management system”. Accounting systems are important and no studio should be without one, but they are general purpose tools to handle one specific area of the business, accounting. Because invoicing is handled by the accounting department, booking workflow is often dictated by the accounting system .Respectfully, that’s the tail wagging the dog. The business of the studio is booking.
The two scenarios I commonly see are QuickBooks with an offsite bookkeeper or in cases where the studio is part of a larger company, accounting is handled by a “centralized department”.
Either way, client data is siloed in an accounting system and not at the fingertips of the people who need it to do their job, the booking staff. A booker should be able to see what a client paid for previous sessions. They should know if the client has credit terms and if they are over their credit limit. They should know if the client is past due and be able to email past due invoices as part of the booking transaction.
If a studio works with or aspires to work with major label record companies there are very specific requirements for invoicing which general purpose accounting systems do not support. These include;
- Charges need to be grouped by “Session” which can span a single calendar day.
- The start and end time of each session needs to be displayed.
- Song titles need to be included.
- Session Sign-Off sheets need to be attached.
- Copies of “third-party” invoices for food and equipment rentals need to be attached.
Failure to include this information can slow down or in some cases block getting paid.
Studio Manager brings important “client facing” functions out of the accounting system and into the booking workflow including;
- Accounts Receivable
- Payment Processing
- Recording GL Transactions
- Client Database & Client Contacts
An accountant (and I am one) reading this I might be concerned that Studio Manager would streamline the Booking Manager role at the expense of efficiency for the accounting department. Not true. Consider the standard studio accounting workflow. When booking is handled manually, accounting starts the billing process with a completed Work Order. To generate an invoice, they have to select a client, set the session date, select each line-item on the work order, set the rate, enter the PO (if applicable) and type in the notes. Next, if Sessions Confirmations and third-party invoices need to be attached, there is a bunch of PDF manipulation.
With Studio Manager all of these steps have been completed by the Booking Manager. The invoicing process involves reviewing the Work Orders and clicking OK. With Studio Manager everyone benefits, booking, accounting and most importantly the clients.