How Much Do Musicians Make per Gig

Posted by Mike Schumacher

We all love live performance because they are thrilling and lively, but have you ever thought how much do musicians earn from these events? That’s exactly what we will discuss in this article.

But let’s first look at how much do musicians earn annually.

General estimates suggest that musicians on average earn $35,000 per year. However, only about 33% of these artists earn 75% of their income from music-related sources. While a career in music is not as lucrative as it may sound, the emerging trend of live streaming and concerts still help generate a decent income.

There are also other sources of income for a musician, such as from selling merchandise, licensing their music or signing deals and entering partnerships.

How much do live performers earn?

According to recent research, the revenue of the live music industry will reach $31 billion by the year 2022. It further says that $24 billion of this amount is expected from the sale of the tickets.

The rapidly growing live streaming is the second most profit-generating sector in the music industry.

Earning from a concert, however, has many variables, such as the size of the production, location of the concert and of course the band itself. According to an estimate, Taylor Swift earns approximately $5 million per show!

However, a solo singer playing to an audience of about 1,000 people charging $20 a ticket may earn revenue of $20,000 per live performance. Excluding the amount that goes to the theater and the administration, the net profit comes down to $5,000. Established bands can even earn $25,000 for each live show.

Another important thing to keep in mind here is that big performances always have a huge amount of staff on their payroll as well. These may include sound engineers, ground staff and tour managers. An established musician can also earn from live-streaming their music and signing sponsorship deals. According to an estimate, the live music industry’s growth rate will touch $30.55 billion by the year 2022.

Amongst other forms of live performances, a bar band earns up to $500 from each performance. Wedding bands can earn an average of $5,000 on each performance.

Bands can also sell their CDs and merchandise at shows. So after the set is over, fans stoked on the performance may spend an extra $20-50 on your t-shirts or stickers, leaving you with a handful of pocket money.

Let’s now look at some of the singers who earned the most money from their live shows in 2018.

Taylor Swift

Taylor Swift earned an estimated $90.5 million from her live shows in 2018. Her combined royalties, including from sales, streaming, and publishing were the seventh-highest on the list.

Bruce Springsteen

Concert residency Springsteen on Broadway earned $85 million in 2018 from 236 live performances. The 69-year-old was able to save $50.9 as he was able to avoid typical touring expenses.


Aubrey Graham, better known as Drake, remained as the No.1 streaming artist for the third consecutive year. The Canadian rapper generated $17.1 million 11.3 billion streams, breaking his record of $8.6 million streams in 2017. His total revenue from the music royalties touched the mark of $21.8 million.

Kenny Chesney

The country music singer was able to earn $39 million from touring and performing live. Chesney’s album Songs for the Saints helped him earn more than one billion streams.

Non-conventional live performances

In addition to the conventional live shows, there are other occasions when a band can earn big. Let’s look at them one by one.

Online concerts

Your fans that are unable to make to the concerts due to the expenses can join you at a live concert. In fact, some fans love these low-key concerts as it also provides them an opportunity to chat directly with the musician in between the concert.

Private occasions

You can also earn from showcasing your talent at private events. If you have a good manager or a marketer to plan your events with companies or individuals, you can have frequent private events to attend to.

Cover performances

Many musicians may not opt for this kind of live concert as they have to perform only in the background. However, the good part about these is you can make a good hundred bucks with just a few hours of performance.

These concerts also offer an opportunity to work more on your live performance skills.

In-house concerts

These live shows don’t require a lot of promotion and still bring to you the opportunity to engage with a lot of people. This can bring invitations to more such concerts and understandably, more revenue.

Festival performances

Live performances at festivals are a good source for money-making in the sense that these are always related to special occasions. This is when major companies and sponsors sign deals with musicians.

On-campus performances

This kind of live show requires that you invest more of your time to establish yourself. However, once you become part of a college circuit, you can earn money to cover all of your tour expenses.

On-campus performances can get you boost recognition of your brand amongst the college-aged. Artists can make a decent salary by just playing college circuits.

Perform ‘on the spot’

Street performances are generally referred to as ‘busking’ and it’s something that established singers usually don’t prefer to do. However, performing every now and then outside the venue of a special event, near a busy signal or a movie theatre can help earn some money.

These can also be filmed and if you’re lucky, you can reap the same rewards that any YouTube video that goes viral does. We’ve all seen the videos of amazing buskers that have reached millions of views on YouTube and Facebook, this has surely paid for a year of the electricity bill for these artists.


Live performance can be the most lucrative way to earn money, but earning significant revenues (i.e. $500k+) requires a musician to be established.

Performing at concerts is an essential element of any musician’s career. It comes with the added benefit of live streaming and other off-stage earnings. If you plan to start as a musician, non-conventional live shows are the place to start.

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