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How Much Money Do Musicians Make?

11 min read

Turning a passion or hobby into a career is a goal that many people strive toward. If you love making or playing music, you might often wonder how much you can make off of it. There are countless ways that musicians can make money. The most successful musicians can go on to become millionaires or even billionaires. But you don’t need to be topping the charts or playing in packed stadiums to make a living in music.

With that said, it’s still worth asking, “How much do musicians make on average?” The answer varies depending on your exact musical activities. How much do orchestra musicians make compared to solo artists, for instance? There are many viable career paths for musicians, but they are not all equal. Here is a brief overview of what you can roughly expect to make as a musician.

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How Much Money Do Musicians Make?

Before answering the question of “How much money do musicians make?”, it’s important to note all the different ways musicians can make money. Selling original music is likely the first option that comes to mind, and this is a popular route. But it is not the only option. Musicians can make money by playing in a symphony or orchestra, performing live, or as a studio musician.

Many professional musicians have multiple avenues for making money. For instance, some might make money as a live performer and a music teacher. Uploading your music to a streaming service, like Spotify, can be a good way to earn passive income as well.

How much do musicians make a year?

So, how much do musicians make in a year? According to Indeed, the average yearly salary for a professional musician is just over $52,000. But, as you will see, that figure can vary greatly depending on any number of factors. For a better idea of how much money musicians make, it helps to take a look at career subcategories.

How Much Do Symphony Musicians Make?

Becoming a professional symphony musician takes a good deal of practice, but can be highly rewarding. At the highest levels, symphony musicians make at least $100,000 annually. But those six-figure earnings are reserved for the highest-level orchestra musicians in the country, like the New York Philharmonic.

Reaching those professional heights is very difficult. But that does not mean other symphony musicians can’t make money as well. Small orchestras and symphonies are still popular musical acts that offer steady, paying jobs to trained musicians. On average, professional symphony musicians should make between $60,000 to $70,000 per year.

How Much Do Musicians Make From Spotify?

As mentioned, Spotify and other streaming services can be a source of passive income for musicians. However, Spotify has also faced some recent controversy over how much (or little) artists actually get paid on the platform. With that said, streaming music is still a popular source of income for musicians.

The answer to how much musicians make from Spotify is complicated. Spotify pays artists a small fee per stream on the platform. On average, artists make between $0.003 and $0.005 per stream on Spotify. For the biggest artists in the world that can amount to millions of dollars. But for small, independent musicians, streaming revenue is not a primary source of income.

Several factors can influence how much artists make on Spotify. The geographic location of the listener plays a role in determining how much the artist makes. Musicians make more from listeners in the U.S. and Canada than in Brazil, for instance. Music producers and record labels also receive a payout from Spotify per stream.

Other streaming platforms offer different pay rates to musicians as well. Apple Music, for instance, reports that it pays an average of $0.01 per stream.

How Much Do Touring Musicians Make?

The earning potential for touring musicians varies considerably. You may have heard about Taylor Swift’s “Eras” Tour generated over $2 billion in revenue. But that is a global tour by one of the music industry’s brightest stars. And even when looking at that massive revenue figure, not all of it goes to the performer herself. Swift’s personal earnings from the tour are likely only in the millions.

This is because touring comes with considerable expenses. Venue and travel costs are the biggest expenses that musicians need to deal with on the road. The amount of equipment you bring with you may also increase expenses.

Of course, most touring musicians are not hauling busloads of gear to stadiums across the country. For the average touring musician, travel and venue costs are relatively low. Several factors can also influence how much musicians make on tour. Ticket sales may seem like the primary source of income, and this is sometimes the case. But selling merchandise (T-shirts, CDs, posters, etc.) at shows can slo have a huge impact. Additionally, whether you’re a solo act or a member of a band impacts earnings. Band members make less on average than solo performers.

There are too many variables to give a clear answer to how much touring musicians should make. But, according to ZipRecruiter, the average monthly salary is over $3,000.

How Much Do Professional Musicians Make?

As you can see, there are a lot of different ways for professional musicians to make money. In addition to the options already mentioned, musicians can also make money as studio musicians, live venue performers, or as music instructors. Once again, there is considerable variety in the earning potential of each of these options.

How much do studio musicians make?

Studio musicians, or session musicians, are some of the unsung heroes of the music industry. A studio musician is a professional who is hired to perform during a studio recording session. While studio musicians aren’t the headliners, this career path does offer steady, reliable income. Some studio musicians can make over $100,000 per year.

Most session musicians are paid hourly or per session. On average, they should make at least $18 per hour, with many established musicians making more than that.

How much do jazz musicians make?

Jazz will always be a popular niche genre of music. Jazz musicians today can still make good money as live performers and session musicians. On average, jazz musicians earn about $60,000 annually in the U.S.

The most common way for jazz musicians to earn money is by playing gigs. The earnings for jazz gigs will vary depending on location, ticket sales, and the artist’s reputation. The lowest-paying jazz gigs will pay musicians around $50 for their performance. But as artists become more established, they can start earning hundreds, or even thousands, of dollars per show.

How much do independent musicians make?

Technology has created many new opportunities for independent musicians to make money today. In the past, independent musicians faced an uphill battle in establishing themselves and gaining a following. But with the internet and social media, musicians can create and upload their music to various online platforms for visibility. Uploading a video to YouTube can be a great way for independent musicians to grow their following.

But how much do independent musicians make? The answer, as always, depends greatly on the musician’s reputation and other economic factors. One thing that is consistent, however, is that independent musicians keep a bigger share of their profits. Streaming platforms like Spotify, for example, must pay a small percentage of their streaming fees to record labels, producers, and rights holders. However, independent musicians are often the sole owners of their music. This means they get to keep all, or nearly all, of the streaming fee.

Other platforms like Soundcloud and Bandcamp have also made it significantly easier for musicians to share and monetize their music online. With that said, most independent musicians do not make a full-time living off their music alone. The average independent musician makes around $12,000 per year. That is a good secondary income, but not enough to make a full-time living.

How much do music instructors make?

Another option for musicians to make money is by offering music lessons. Being a music instructor can be a great way to pay the bills while also recording and playing shows on the side. There is always a demand for music lessons as new people become interested in learning a new instrument.

Music instructors can usually set their own rates for lessons. Rates may vary depending on location and what instruments you teach. Piano teachers may charge $30 to $50 per hour, while guitar teachers may charge slightly less. Demand is the primary factor in determining how much music instructors make.

School music teachers will typically make anywhere from $34,000 to $70,000 annually. Geography plays an important role in determining a teacher’s annual salary, however.

Another option for music instructors is to sell courses online. Creating and uploading lessons that can be downloaded at any time can be an excellent source of passive income. This model is widely used in a lot of disciplines and is highly effective for music instructors in particular. Online courses are evergreen, and there is always tremendous demand for musical lessons. The more instruments or techniques you’re proficient in, the more courses you can upload as well.

Want to learn more about selling educational content online? Sign up for Ecwid to get started on creating a custom and professional website for your online business.


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About the author

Max has been working in the ecommerce industry for the last six years helping brands to establish and level-up content marketing and SEO. Despite that, he has experience with entrepreneurship. He is a fiction writer in his free time.

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