Average Artist Income 1 Bajillion Dollars – Cure Cancer, Bring Peace To The Middle East And End World Hunger

By Jeff Price

In the words of President Obama,  ” … if we just make stuff up and pretend that facts are not facts, we are not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by side shows and carnival barkers…”

This “average income” conversation is the strangest I think I have come across in quite some time.  We are sitting in the middle of a transformation of a sector and the conversation is about a silly useless statistic around dividing Lady Gaga’s income into other people’s bottom line?

Sorry to disappoint anyone, but the truth is just not that exciting, but here it is: some artists make a lot of money from the sale of their music, others make a moderate amount and many more make very little. This is just as it has always been (and will continue to be).  I’m not certain what the point is around this average income statistic – it would be the same as stating the average amount of money for a band on a major label is Lady Gaga + Eminem + Jay-Z’s income added into all the other bands and then divided. Huh?

(On a side note, artists signed to major labels typically did not make their money off the sale of their music but via other income streams.  Artists today can make revenue off of all income streams)

May we all agree that there will be fewer superstars than non-superstars and move on to the real story?  Despite the traditional music industry releasing less music now than at any point over the past 15 years there is actually more music being distributed, bought, sold, streamed, shared, discovered and generating revenue for more artists/songwriters than at any point in history.  Is it not more important or interesting that the gatekeepers are gone and that there are hundreds of thousands of artists who, for the first time, have: access to distribution, the opportunity to be discovered and are actually making at least some money off their art?

In addition, the revenue these artists are generating–no matter how little or much–is coming in from a variety of sources, some new and some old.

No, not everyone is a mega-superstar–to suggest as much is ridiculous (the major labels have a historical 98% failure rate). Yes, there are mega-superstars, but now also a larger strata of musicians and labels who are able to generate revenue, fame and notoriety through their craft and businesses.

Some of these artists will be signed to record labels, others will do it themselves, and some will have other types of deals.

Let’s not get distracted from the true changes and issues at hand by the side shows and carnival barkers who make up silly little numbers to be sensational in an attempt to drive web traffic .

(By the way, if you add up the ad dollars from the Huffington Post, TechCrunch and  all of AOL and Google’s blogs, and divide, you will end up with the average amount of ad dollar money a blog will generate.)

  • Mulky

    If me and 5 other broke friends are sitting in a room and Bill Gates walks in, the average person in that room is a now billionaire.

  • Mulky

    oops, read as “now a billionaire”

  • BB

    Please remove the share thing its covering up the left hand side of your posts even in full screen ect. It is a shame not to be able to read your blogs properly :)

    • BB

      Annoying share thing now gone, well done :)


    Using your logic, if you take out the top 40 tunecore artists income, what did the
    average(98% of artists) tunecore artist make over the last 12 months?

    I’ll bet it’s a very low number. It’s just the reality of this business.

    Just curious.


  • Cjpnh

    #27: Just an average artist here too:



    NIKKI HORNSBY’s song “Flyin Over Sweet Alabama” is still flyin’ upwards on the Top Country Singles Chart Cashbox #27 May 2011.

    From “Just Wait” CD with video support

    But most in the professional music recording industry know that the pie of profit from product sales & personal support paid appearances is divided many ways determined by the recording contract for the artist who may not get the highest % at all.

    Amazing how it works so well as we need music in flim, tv, and radio etc. around the world!

    Know this, many more in the back ground get more income than those in the bright lights unless the bright lit people are protected by legal contracts which can be changed.

    Basic recording industry is a process of “loan advancement” under contract to start to “pay back time” with profits and contract renewals. This is when profits are the bottom line in business.

    Some soon to be mega artists come in with mega $ investment for their record labels (children of millionaires wanting to help out their child is normal in many cases too) and others do it the harder way finding sponsor investment like the local little league baseball teams to get their product made and distributed.

    The risk in the music recording industry is high but the returns can be 3xs the investment within a year.

    Figures based on the investment research can prove these facts which for years have been public knowledge.

    Making music for the public consumption live performing clubs is different than making recorded product for sale and selling it. Two different things like apples & oranges…both are still fruits in an awesome changing wonderful business.

  • Fronz Arp

    Great article. People focus so much on money. “Its all about the music maaaannnn”. Where did all those stinkin’ hippies go???