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How Much Does a Country Singer Make?

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Country singers often are known for their nasal, scoopy, twangy but heartfelt songs. It is fairly difficult to make a living belting country tunes. This isn't so much because the genre lacks popularity, but rather because, like all singers and musicians, country singers often don't work a standard 40-hour week and cannot guarantee they'll have a gig available in the future.

Typical Earnings

The average yearly compensation for a country singer was $35,000 at the time of publication, according to the SimplyHired website. As the Bureau of Labor Statistics calculates yearly averages based on the assumption of 2,080 work hours per year, this figure is the same as roughly $16.83 per hour. Additionally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that all musicians and singers in made $12.94 in the 25th percentile and $22.39 at the median in 2010. Country singers thus appear to be on the lower end of the musician and singers salary range.

Salary Range

When first starting out, some country singers, like other singers and musicians, do some gigs for free in order to gain exposure, build a fan base and boost their resume. However, if a country singer becomes a star, they potentially can earn millions of dollars -- in 2008, for example, Toby Keith made $48 million, as reported by Lauren Streib of Forbes. These salaries are not typical, and few country singers achieve this level of popularity, but their salaries indicate the profit potential available in the country music sector.

Number of Gigs

All country singers, even well-known ones, depend on gigs for a large percentage of their compensation. Country singers can perform in bars, clubs and other venues like fairs or community festivals. The number of gigs a country singer can get varies considerably based on the singer's ability to network, where he lives and whether he has an agent. According to New York musician and pianist David J. Hahn, pay of $5 to $800 a night is typical for a live group, with pay of $100 per performer being fairly average. If a country singer earns $100 per show and does two shows per week, this is only about $10,400 a year. This means that, to make a decent living as a typical country singer, you have to do quite a few shows per year and get at least a few hundred dollars per gig.

Bottom Line

Like other musicians and singers, country singers often need other work to supplement their income, particularly when first starting out. Even if fortunate, most musicians and singers don't make more than around $60 per hour, according to 2010 information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, you can get extra money through teaching country music to others, working in venues related to country music like the Grand Ole Opry and, once established, negotiating royalties for your original sheet music, recordings and memorabilia. If you can get a good break, you may earn enough to live comfortably through your art.


Wanda Thibodeaux is a freelance writer and editor based in Eagan, Minn. She has been published in both print and Web publications and has written on everything from fly fishing to parenting. She currently works through her business website,, which functions globally and welcomes new clients.

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