U.S. Musicians’ Median Income Is $21,300 Per Year
The median income for a U.S. musician is just $21,300 per year, according to a new survey.
The Music Industry Research Association published a report built from 1,227 responses, which showed that 61 percent of artists had to rely on other work to cover their living expenses.
Even with an upturn in industry profits, the MIRA report, which was conducted in association with MusiCares and the Princeton University Survey Research Center, concluded that most artists’ income from their music hadn’t significantly improved over the past six years. While the median musician brought in $35,000 in 2017, that figure included income from outside music.
In addition, the report’s authors said that “several of the findings … raise concerns about the lives and careers of many working musicians.” They cited that 11.8 percent deal with suicidal or self-harming thoughts, compared with 3.4 percent of the general population. Musicians were also five times more likely than the general population to use cocaine, six times more likely to use ecstasy, nearly three times as likely to use heroin and twice as likely to drink alcohol frequently.
While women made up around a third of working musicians, 72 percent reported sexual discrimination and 67 percent reported being sexual harassment, versus 28 and 42 percent of the general population respectively. While 36 percent of non-whites in the general population reported racial discrimination, 63 percent of non-white musicians did.
“The survey findings … suggest that many professional musicians face a multitude of problems, including high levels of depression and anxiety, high rates of substance abuse, relatively low incomes and work-related physical injuries," the MIRA concluded. "And while many musicians find features of a musical career particularly alluring, the life [of] a musician presents many challenges.”