Any successful musician needs a lawyer, and demand translates to high salaries in many cases.
According to a recent report by Berklee College of Music, the average musician earns $55,561 per year. More than half of all respondents reported generating income from three or more different jobs. For a lucky few, though, a full-time gig can translate into a six-figure salary. Read on to find out how.
Video Game Audio
Salary range: $18,000 – $150,000
Careers in video game audio are among the fastest growing in the music business. Though salaries start low—$18,000 for an assistant engineer who creates rough mixes in the studio—they can rise quickly. Audio directors often earn up to $140,000 per year for overseeing video game projects, while audio tool developers can pull in as much as $150,000 for writing code.
Salary range: $28,000 – $143,000
It’s possible to live comfortably as an orchestral musician, though positions are often hard to come by as budgets shrink. Salary figures above are for full-time jobs with 40-week performance seasons, and they depend largely on location (the starting salary for the Alabama Symphony is $36,594; for the Boston Symphony Orchestra, it’s $132,028).
This growing field offers a staggering array of different jobs, at locations from nursing homes to prisons, and requires successful completion of an academic and clinical training program approved by the American Music Therapy Association. Salaries start at $20,000 for therapists at inpatient psychiatric units and top out at around $135,000 for private practitioners.
Music supervisors select tunes to be used in motion picture projects. Salaries start low in this field—$2,000 – $5,000 for a TV project—but can increase quickly. Low budget feature films yield $10,000 – $45,000, and Hollywood blockbusters can draw $150,000 – $500,000.
Any successful musician needs a lawyer, and demand translates to high salaries in many cases. By covering all legal issues, often relating to copyrights, trademarks and contract negotiations for a major artist, a music attorney can easily pull in six figures—and in some cases, seven.
Conducting jobs with major organizations in big cities are lucrative but not easy to find. On the lower end of the salary spectrum, part-time work for smaller institutions may be more attainable ($26,000-$36,000 for North Carolina’s Durham Symphony, for example).
A booking agent secures gigs for acts by maintaining relationships with the right people: promoters, clubs, arts centers, etc. Commissions can range from 10-20% of an act’s gross income per show.
Want to collaborate with an artist to create an album? You’ll have to be talented enough to make the cut—and be willing to take a low salary at the entry level. But pay can push well into the six figures for the best in the business.
The glamour and grit of life on the road can be a labor of love or a labor of luxury, depending on the act. For an A-list group, arranging travel and managing budgets can yield a six-figure salary.
An emerging field in music, this area involves the study of the physiological and psychological aspects of how living organisms receive and produce sound. It takes plenty of brainpower—and can be quite remunerative on the high end.
Though 25% of musicians surveyed by Berklee reported a decline in session work over the past five years, the few that make a full-time career out of it are well compensated. And for those who only do session work on occasion, it can be a lucrative sideline—$100 for two hours’ work on the low-to-medium end, and often more.
Want to make six figures in the music business? Writing about it won’t get you there—music bloggers earn just $23,000 – $66,000, according to Berklee. The real money is in public relations, where salaries range from $25,000 – $200,000.
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