For Musicians, Some Things Change, Some Don’t

A musician performing at a street fair in New York. Photo courtesy of Ed Yourdon. Berklee College of Music’s Career Development Center recently compiled a study of music industry salaries. Over the phone from the college’s office in Boston, Massachusetts, the career center's Director, Peter Spellman, says he wanted to show the realities of working musicians and music industry professionals - “behind the promises and propaganda.” Income would seem to be a touchy subject for the quickly-changing music industry, though Spellman says he’s had very few negative reactions so far. “It’s pretty accurate. We were very careful. We spent a lot of time talking to a lot of people.” Spellman mentions an A&R rep who said salaries in his field generally start at “$85,000 plus.” He’s also had some music journalists point out that it’s hard to make a full year’s salary working freelance. “The music journalist occupation isn’t what it used to be,” he says. [Editor’s note: Ouch.] But largely, Spellman says, what the study shows is how varied the music industry is. Before he joined Berklee 18 years ago, he says he learned that fact firsthand as an independent musician, putting on various hats like manager, booking agent, and label director. “People tend to think about music from where it’s sold - off the stage or out of a store, or on iTunes - but once you start thinking about where music is used, it opens up so many more... Sign In to Keep Reading

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