Are you an aspiring musician who dreams of someday becoming a superstar? Before you put all your hopes on that path, you should know some hard facts about the music industry.
Fact #1 No One Gives a Crap About Your Music
You can produce wonderful music. Then, work hard to record it well. After that, you distribute it yourself using services like Distrokid or Tunecore. You get your songs out there and released in all the online music stores and streaming systems, like Spotify, Apple Music, etc. Then, you have the frustrating experience that almost nobody, except your closest friends, listens to it.
Here is the harsh reality – at least until you work to change it. Consider Spotify as an example. Spotify is the most popular streaming system. More than 60,000 new songs are uploaded to Spotify every day. That is your competition. Think your music is better than the 60,000 songs released today? How about the 60,000 more released tomorrow?
Not only do you have to create, record, and distribute your music, you have to promote it. Promotion takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money.
Fact# 2 You Probably Will Not Get Rich from Music
Zip Recruiter reports the average professional musician’s annual earnings are $43,350. This amount is equivalent to $20.84 per hour.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported for the second quarter of 2022 that the median salary in the United States was $54,134. This amount is equivalent to $26.02 per hour.
Compare these figures to a plumber’s earnings. Salary.com reports the average plumber’s salary is $59,651. This amount is equivalent to $28.68 per hour. Additionally, the average overtime pay is an extra $6,750 earned each year.
Most professional musicians have a second job to support themselves. If you want to succeed, consider working as a plumber or another high-paying job during the day and work on your music at night.
Fact # 3 Traditional Promotion is Expensive
The Recording Industry Association of America® (RIAA) reports that promoting an artist in a major market like a big city such as New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles may cost up to $2 million. That is the cost per city.
Record labels invest over $4 billion yearly in promotion and marketing expenses. Even if you are a top artist, it takes a lot of money to build a following and let people know about your new album.
Fact #4 Everything is Online – Even More Than You Think!
RIAA also reports that 88% of the music industry revenues come from online sources, and 75% are from streaming services. Concerts and tours used to be big money-makers until the pandemic put them all on pause. The big concert tours are starting up again. However, the pandemic forced the closure of many small venues across America. The number of performance spaces that closed is extremely unfortunate.
Fact #5 The Top 0.1% Make All the Money
Using Spotify again as an example, in 2020, just over 13,400 musicians made at least $50,000 that year from Spotify. Only 7,800 musicians made more than $100,000. For over $50,000 in earnings, the number goes down to 1,820, and there were only 870 musicians who made more than $1 million from Spotify.
Spotify represents about one-third of the music streaming services, so a musician who is popular may have total online earnings of two to three times the Spotify amounts.
Can you become a successful musician? Yes, but it is not easy. At least now you know what you are up against.