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Salary of a Touring Musician

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The dream of many musicians is to go on tour and hit it big in the music industry. Some touring musicians play concerts in front of large groups of people, even in sold out arenas and venues around the country. According to the BLS, there were a total of 43,350 musicians employed in the United States in 2010. The bureau indicates that approximately one-half of all musicians were self-employed and about 40 percent worked part-time. The salary of touring musicians tends to be higher than the salaries earned by most other musicians.

Average Salary

Touring musicians can be divided into three basic categories: those who perform as independent musicians, those who are employed by promoters of performing arts, sporting and other similar events and those who work for performing arts companies. According to the BLS, the typical wage for independent musicians was $31.23 per hour, or approximately $65,000 per year in 2010. Those working for performing arts companies made $33.67 per hour, or about $70,000 per year. Those employed by sporting event and performing arts promoters made $40.22 hourly or about $84,000 per year. By comparison, the average wage for all musicians nationwide was $30.22 per hour or $63,000 annually.

Pay Scale

Placing the average salary of various touring musicians within the larger pay scale of other musicians nationwide can provide some additional insight. According to the BLS, the median wage for all musicians was $22.39 per hour. Those in the middle 50 percent of the pay scale earned salaries ranging from $12.94 per hour to $39.54 per hour. The highest paid musicians made more than $60.02 per hour. This indicates that touring musicians are typically in the upper 50 percent in terms of wages and salaries earned.


Although touring musicians work all over, geographic location provides further indication of what musicians can expect to make. According to the BLS, the highest paid musicians worked in California, earning an average wage of $40.91 annually. California was second to New York in terms of employment. In New York, where 8,230 musicians were employed in 2010, the average wage for musicians was $35.09 per hour. Those working in Florida made $15.81 per hour, while those in Texas averaged $32.86 per hour.

Job Outlook

Jobs for touring musicians are difficult to get and are generally reserved for the best in the field. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics indicates that overall job growth for musicians should still occur at a rate of about 8 percent during the decade from 2008 to 2018. The bureau indicates that slower than average growth will be the norm for self-employed touring musicians.


Jared Lewis is a professor of history, philosophy and the humanities. He has taught various courses in these fields since 2001. A former licensed financial adviser, he now works as a writer and has published numerous articles on education and business. He holds a bachelor's degree in history, a master's degree in theology and has completed doctoral work in American history.

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