Although many people dream of becoming multi-platinum recording musicians, this goal is not usually realistic. Luckily for those who want to work in the music industry, a handful of jobs can ensure that you live like a rock star even if you are behind the scenes. College graduates who have at least an associate's or bachelor's degree in music-related studies can find entry-level positions in the music industry and work their way up to some of the highest-paying jobs in the field.
Music producers earn high wages because they are in charge of the entire recording process. Producers for recording studios need an in-depth knowledge of the industry, market, analog and digital technology, instruments and sound structure. They also need an ear for the next hot sound. Some music producers are in charge of the sound for TV, cinema and multimedia productions. Helpful degrees include music, sound or audio engineering or music production. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2013, the average salary for producers and directors was $90,240 annually, and the top 10 percent made at least $187,040 per year. The pay varies depending on how much work you have, who your clients are and how good you are.
Live Event Sound Engineers
Live sound engineers manage sound from the instrumentals to vocals, whether for solo musicians or a large band. Duties include operating sound control panels, lighting systems, stage systems, sound systems and almost all elements of production, especially during live events. A wide range of knowledge is key, such as electrical engineering, sound production or even fine arts. Most often, a degree is required. According to the statistics bureau, the average annual salary was $56,610 as of 2013, but the top 10 percent of sound engineering technicians earned at least $101,840 annually.
A manager has a lot of responsibility and needs common sense, intuition and a wide knowledge of the music industry. Managers need to attract artists and take care of tasks that clients can't do themselves, whether it is scheduling travel and tours or negotiating contracts. It is beneficial to have a degree in some sort of managerial field, business administration or music management. Your possible salary as a manager varies greatly, depending on your clients and your effectiveness. The average annual salary for managers of performers, artists or athletes was $96,410 as of 2013, according to the BLS. Managers of entertainers and public figures averaged $101,380 per year.
Lawyers typically make top dollar, and this is especially true in the music industry. You can study to become a lawyer specific to the music industry -- for example, entertainment contracts, publishing and song rights or royalties and sampling, to name a few. Almost anyone in the industry can use music attorneys, including musicians, record companies, producers, music agencies and publishing companies. The median salary is in the triple digits for successful music attorneys, but the downside is that the training time to become a well-respected lawyer is almost a decade. According to the BLS, the average annual wage for lawyers in all industries was $131,990 as of 2013.
Not all songwriters make big money. The average annual income for composers and directors was $54,560 as of 2013, according to the BLS. But some songwriters earn enough to retire from one song, according to the Celebrity Net Worth website. First of all, hit songs bring in royalties every time an album or single sells -- on average $2.00 for each CD or $0.25 for each iTunes download. The songwriter gets additional royalties for performances, for a song's use on television or in movies and from the sale of sheet music. For example, Celebrity Net Worth reports that the average performance royalties for a hit radio tune vary between $600,000 and $800,000.