With both the music industry and the global economy in a near-constant state of flux, it’s an uncertain time to be making a living in music. To that end, Boston’s Berklee College of Music has released a new study detailing salary ranges across the business in an attempt to get a handle on just how much money musicians, audio engineers, A&Rs and the rest make in order to give those starting out a roadmap with which they can financially navigate the industry’s choppy waters.
The study — an update on the college’s 2010 report — covers the broad areas of performance, writing, business, audio technology, education, and music therapy, and represents something of a mixed bag; PR and orchestral musician positions saw a salary bump, while A&R reps and commercial jingle composers haven’t fared as well in comparison. An overview of working musician positions for the past five years also appeared hit or miss, with most fields seeing an offsetting number of the more than 5,000 respondents reporting both income rises and falls, with only teaching making great strides upward and session playing reporting lower income. The average music income over the past five years was estimated at around $34,000.
“There is downward pressure on many music performance salaries right now due to the slowing global economic recovery, changing perceptions of music’s value, and hyper competition,” said Peter Spellman, director of Berklee’s Career Development Center — which conducted the study — in a statement. “Thus, all the more reason for musicians to expand their repertoire of both musical and professional skills in this transforming industry.”
In addition to salary ranges, the document also presents a few areas with growth potential as the industry continues to evolve, with social media, digital marketing, branding and sponsorships, mobile music and streaming music all making the list. Unsurprisingly, New York and California were the two states with the highest number of employed musicians, while Florida, Texas, and Tennessee rounded out the top five.
This year’s study also includes a flowchart guiding how to negotiate job offers, as well as an extensive list of organizations and associations set up to help benefit musicians and those in the music industry.