How Do You Get Paid in the Music Industry-By the balance
By Heather McDonald
Updated March 06, 2017
Making money in the music industry isn't always as simple negotiating a salary and waiting for your paycheck to come in. The pay structure of many music industry jobs is based on percentages for one-off deals and freelance style work, but different music industry careers are paid in different ways. For this reason, the music career you choose will have a big impact on how you make money in the music business.
Here, you'll find a look at how several common music industry jobs are paid but remember, as always, that this information is general, and the deal you agree to will dictate your circumstances.
Managers receive a pre-agreed percentage of the income from the artists they work with. Sometimes, musicians may pay managers a salary as well - this often works like a retainer, ensuring the manager doesn't work with any other bands. However, it should be noted that this latter scenario really only comes into play when the artists are making a sufficient enough income to support themselves comfortably and legitimately have a need to make sure their manager focuses only on them. Find out more about music managers:
Career Profile: Managers
Promoters make money on ticket sales for the gigs they promote. There are two ways this can happen:
The promoter takes a percentage of the proceeds from the show after recouping their costs, giving the remaining money to the artists.
This is known as a door split deal.
The promoter may agree a fixed payment with the musicians for their performance and then any money left after costs is theirs to keep.
Career Profile: Music Promoter
Concert Promotion Costs
Agents take a pre-agreed percentage of the fees for the shows they arrange for musicians.
In other words, if an agent negotiates a fee with a promoter for a band they represent to be paid $500 for playing a show, the agent takes a cut of that $500. Learn more about agents:
Career Profile: Music Agents
How to Book a Gig
At a very basic level, record labels make money by selling records. Your job at the record label and what type of label you work for will determine what this means for you. If you have your own record label, then you make money by selling enough records to cover your costs and make a profit. If you work for someone else's record label, you will likely get a salary or hourly wage. The size of the label and your role there determines how big that salary/wage will be. Learn more about record labels:
Before You Start a Record Label
Indie Label Contracts
Whether radio plugging or conducting press campaigns, music PR companies get paid on a campaign basis. They will negotiate a flat fee for working a release or tour, and that fee will usually cover a set amount of time for the company to promote the product/tour. Music PR companies may also get bonuses for successful campaigns and reaching certain thresholds - for instance, a bonus if the album sells a certain number of copies.
These agreements will be made before the campaign begins. Learn more about PR:
Career Profile: Radio Plugger
If music journalists work freelance, they will be paid on a per project or contract basis. If they work for a specific publication, they will likely receive a salary or hourly wage. Find out more about music journalists:
Career Profile: Music Journalist
Record producers may receive a salary if they are tied to a specific studio or be paid on a per project basis if they freelance. Another important part of music producer pay can be points, which allow producers to share in the royalties from music they producer.
It should be noted that not all producers get points on every project. Learn more about producers:
Career Profile: Record Producer
Sound engineers who work independently get paid on a per project basis - this can be a one night deal, or they may go on the road and do sound for a whole tour, in which case they will be paid for the tour and may also receive P.D.s. Engineers who work with a particular venue exclusively are likely to receive an hourly wage. Learn more about engineers:
Interview: Sound Engineer Simon Kasprowicz
What about the musicians themselves? Musicians make money from royalties, advances, playing live, selling merchandise, and licensing fees for their music. Sounds like a lot of revenue streams, but don't forget they often have to share the money with the people listed above. Learn more about making money as a musician:
Performance Rights Groups
Performance Rights Royalties
Obviously, there are lots of different ways to make money in the music business, and many of them come down to percentages and contracts. For this reason, it is crucial that everyone is on the same page about the how the payment will take place. Also, you should always get it in writing.