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LOCAL 174-496

 

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LOCAL 174-496

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Musician Career Development


David Gallo, author of this page, is an employee of AFM 174-496 and would love to help you improve your musical life. Come by Tuesdays or Fridays at 2555 Ursulines and consult with me to help get you paid!
CONTACT AT OFFICE@NEWORLEANSMUSICIANS.ORG

Note: This page is a work-in-progress.

Music Industry Data

There are a wide array of careers in music. The following information and resources will help identify a variety of potential routes when pursuing a successful career. Many skills attained by musicians are transferable to many areas of the industry, and musicians rarely rely on one source of income especially with the recent movement towards a “gig” economy.  While many musicians simply want to play music and make money, being open to and pursuing non-performing jobs will create incredible new opportunities and connections in the industry who will help you reach your ideal music career.

 musician-salary-chart

National Wage Estimates for Musicians and Singers

Percentile10%25%Median75%90%
Hourly Wage$9.33$14.02$25.14$47.21$68.13

National Employment Estimates for Musicians and Singers

Organization
Type
Employment
Count
% of IndustryMean Hourly
Wage
Performing Arts Companies20,77016.50%$36.56
Religious Organizations9,2194.81%$35.20
Colleges / Universities /
Grad Schools
2,280.08%$26.27
Promoters of Performing Arts /
Sports / Other Events
1,250.05%$40.06
Elementary / Secondary Schools1,230.01%$26.98

Learn more at the Bureau of Labor Statistics website


More Resources:


2016 Berklee College of Music careers report details the standard salary ranges for every music career in addition to negotiation and booking tips and other industry information.


Cost of living calculator will allow you to see how your salary will fare in other cities.


National Endowment for the Arts Employment Projections through 2018 provides informed projections on where the music industry is heading.



Music Careers List

*Note: The following information is based on national data compiled by Berklee College of Music. For access to local New Orleans pay scales, join the Union!


Performing Careers


Event / Cover Band

Pay Range: $1,000 – $2,500 per gig

Details: Bands geared towards playing weddings and corporate functions are paid on a per-gig basis, and generally play covers as opposed to original songs.


Touring Band

Pay Ranges:

Club-level Opener: $16,000 per 40 shows

Club-level Headliner: $750,000 per 40 shows

Arena-level Opener: $30,000 – 750,000 per 40 shows

Arena-level Headliner: $3,000,000 – $30,000,000 per 40 shows

*salary ranges based on sold-out shows at $50 per ticket

Details: Touring as a band is perhaps the most sought-after dream of young musicians especially. There are always expenses while touring such as food, accommodations, gas/transportation costs, and fees to promoters and other involved parties. Many touring bands and performers simply try to break-even while others seek large paychecks to sustain them for the following months. The underlying goals of the band or performer are reflected in the way the tour is structured. Nevertheless, touring is an experience all musicians should have.


 DJ / Emcee

Pay Range: $300 to $1000+ per night

Details: DJ-ing can be a steady way to make income. There are many venues and opportunities for DJs even amidst market saturation. Up-front expenses for equipment such as turntables, mixers, and speakers mean it will take some time to break-even. DJs are hired for house parties, nightclubs, bars and festivals. Even if you are a staunch instrumentalist learning how to mix in unique ways will expand your musical creativity and create a better end product.


Church Choir – Section Leader / Soloist

Salary Range: $25-100+ per service

Details: While all other choir members are generally volunteers, section leaders and soloist positions receive a modest paycheck. Getting involved in church choirs will help network with many other talented vocalists as well.


Background Singer / Session Singer

Salary Range: $100-8000 per week

Details: The broad range in pay for background singers coincides with the vast differences in ticket sales depending on the band. The upper range of $8000 is for an arena-level touring background vocalist playing sold out shows at $50 or more per ticket.


 Cantor

Salary Range: $25,000 – $80,000 / year

Details: Cantors are responsible for organizing and presenting liturgical music to a synagogue or temple. This music supports prayer and religious study during Jewish services. Pay is based on the overall size and prominence of the specific temple.


Church Organist or Pianist

Salary Range:

$100/service on a per-gig basis

$30,000-110,000 per year for full-time position

Details: Pay is largely dependent on hours worked which vary from 10-40 hours per week. Other factors influencing pay include the size of the congregation and personal level of music education and ability. It is required to have knowledge of religious music and the coinciding style.


 Concert or Opera Soloist

Salary Range: $450 – 1000+ per performance

Details: It takes serious singing chops to make it as a concert or opera soloist. Many of the most skilled vocalists in the world are in this somewhat underappreciated field.


Careers in Recording

(Non-Performing)

Record Producer

Salary Range: $25,000 – $1,000,000

Details: Record producers help with every aspect of an artist’s recording project. They are knowledgeable about music licenses and copyrights and work closely with recording engineers to help choose recording material and influence mixing and mastering.


Session Musician

Salary Range: Extremely wide range, $100 – $2,500 per day or up to $100,000+, The American Federation of Musicians specifies the minimum rate for members

Details: Session musicians play in studio recording projects and are usually contractually hired. Sight-reading is an imperative skill if you want to be a session musician.


Audio Engineer

Salary Range: $25,000 to 100,000+

Details: Engineers deal with the technical side of recording. It requires careful collaboration with artists to ensure they receive the product they want, and to not compromise their artistic integrity. Knowledge of how to work professional soundboards and other electronic equipment is necessary. Engineers help with mixing and mastering with the help of assistants, artists, producers, and sometimes acoustic consultants. While some may imagine engineers fiddling away in a lonely room filled with music technology, in reality it’s a much more collaborative effort. Needless to say, you must not be rigid and have the desire and ability to work with people as an engineer.


Assistant to Audio engineer

Salary Range: $18,000-25,000+

Details: Supports the audio engineer, good way to enter the record production industry.


Music Writing Careers

Songwriter / Lyricist

Salary Information: 

Songwriters rely largely on royalties for steady income. Performances of their songs on TV, radio, and during live shows in addition to record sales and streams contribute to songwriter royalties. High-profile ad, movie, or videogame synchs can generate up to $2 million.

Fees for freelance artists range widely.


Music/Song Licensing rates:

$250 – $750/Independent film

$7,500 – $17,500/Feature film by major studio

$0 – $250/Film festival use

$4,000 – $7,500/Promotional trailer (theatrical) $2,000 – $2,500/Promotional trailer (TV)

$2,000 – $2,500/Promotional trailer (TV)

$0 – $250/Basic cable TV program

$100 – $500/Daytime drama on network TV

$500 – $2,500/Primetime one-hour TV series

$5,000 – $1,000,000/National TV theme song

$15,000 – $100,000/National TV commercial

$100,000 – $500,000/National TV commercial jingle

$250,000 – $2,500,000/Top 10 hit on Billboard Hot 100


Composer

Salary Range:

Details: 


Arranger

Salary Range: $20,000 – 43,000+

Details: Arrangers are responsible for organizing individual parts of a musical composition. Arrangers are innovators in that they develop new and different ways to play and write music. Arrangers work closely with musicians to organize their clips, sequences, and loops in a way that is most pleasing to the audience.


Orchestrator

Salary Range: Set by American Federation of Musicians, varies depending on length/employer type.

Details: Orchestrators are the songwriters for orchestras. They generally have a good foundation of classical training and often have a background in conducting and various orchestral instruments.


 Music Business Careers 

(Non-Performing)

Artist Manager

Salary Range: 

10-50% of artists earnings +

$25,000 – 200,000 / Developing Artist

$2,000,000 – 10,000,0000 / Star

Details: The right band or artist manager is instrumental in all business aspects. They negotiate business relationships and advise on decisions in addition to guiding the creative direction of their client. Managers are often the first party hired when a band is gaining or attempting to gain prominence due to their business-oriented skill-set that is rarely shared with musicians.


Booking Agent

Salary Range:  $20,000 – $3,000,000

Commissions range, typically 10% – 20% of the act’s gross income per show.

$50,000/Developing Artist

$500,000 – $3,000,000/Star

$50,000 – $250,000/Booking Specialty Agent

Details: Booking agents secure gigs for artists and bands. They usually have a strong network of music buyers such as festivals, promoters, clubs, and performing arts centers. Specialty agents specialize in certain venues or contract types such as only festivals or corporate events. Managers double as booking agents for smaller operations.


Promoter

Salary Range: 15% of door

Details: Promoters are hired either by musicians or music venues in order to generate buzz for events. They generally go around the area handing out fliers or spreading via word-of-mouth to create successful gigs. Promoters are the marketers of the music world as they utilize advertising strategies to get an audience. Their efforts are rewarded as a percentage of ticket sales based on how many people show up.


Publisher

Salary Range: $24,000 – 100,000

Details: Publishers commission articles or books from freelance writers and select relevant pre-written articles from a range of sources. Publishers can also write and edit music books and articles. Music bloggers hold a high degree of power in the industry today and are contracted by publishers to spread awareness about certain artists.


Licensing Rep / Administrator

Salary Range: $20,000 – 60,000

Details: Licensing administrators manage exclusive rights pertaining to a creative work. They ensure all content is protected and inform artists about copyright and fair use information. Business and/or law experience is very helpful to have a foundation of knowledge about the complex world of music law.


Accountant

Salary Range: 

Details: While not so glamorous, being a band or tour accountant is a great way for a numerically-oriented person to get involved in the music industry. Managing band finances and running it as a business is important to understand how to improve their financial situation a


Attorney

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Touring Jobs 

(Non-Performing)

 

Tour Manager

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Lighting Technician

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Bus Driver

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Instrument Technician

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Sound Technician

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Tour Coordinator

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Production Manager

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Record Label Jobs 

(Non-Performing)

A & R Director (Talent Scout)

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A & R Coordinator

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A & R Administrator

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Publicist

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Marketing / Promotional Manager

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Licensing Representative

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Music Sales Manager

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Record Company Sales

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Band / Musician Website Developer

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Instrument Repair and Invention Careers

Restoration & Repair Specialist

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Piano Technician

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Instrument Inventor / Designer

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Music Industry Retail

Music or Record Store Owner / Manager

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Music or Record Store Salesperson

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Rack Jobber

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Careers in Music Education and Health

Music Teacher – University

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Music Instructor – Private Lessons

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Music Therapist

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Speech Pathologist / Voice Therapist

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Orchestra and Symphony Careers

Conductor

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Section Leader

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Section Member

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Opera Singer

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Orchestra Manager

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Director of Educational Activities

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Personnel Director

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Music Librarian for Orchestral Music

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Media-Based and Advertising Music Careers (TV, Film, Radio)

Production Music Writer / Jingle Writer

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Sound Designer

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Music Video Director

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Music Editor

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Careers at Venues 

Talent Buyer

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Manager – Concert Hall / Night Club

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Marketing Director – Concert Hall / Night Club

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House Photographer

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Technician – Sound or Lighting

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Who to Hire?

Dealing with all the working parts of the music industry can be a headache. With so many promoters, agents, subagents, managers, publishers, PR reps, and record labels, it is difficult to identify exactly who you need and how to structure your business. Here is an example of a team organizational chart surrounding a more successful artist:

The first step is to identify your biggest problem area. Are you not getting enough viral exposure? Do you want more paid gigs? Once you identify your biggest issue, hire an ideal specialist in that field with a proven track record of success. Hiring a manager is the natural first step, as managers help deal with the general business side such as identifying and booking gigs and ensuring everyone gets paid. However, if your band is comfortable booking all their own gigs it may make more sense to hire an event promoter who specializes in increasing your crowd size. Being truthful with yourself to identify your greatest weaknesses will help decide where to start.

ASCAP Career Advice: selection of tips, advice and opportunities to boost your music career

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