Most Musicians Are On Poverty Line

Figures reveal nine out of ten professionals make no more than 16k a year, compared to UK national average wage of over 25k.

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Most professional musicians in the UK earn far less than the national average wage, recent figures reveal with most sitting below the official poverty line.

The music licensing agency PPL says nearly all musicians make less than 16,000 a year compared to the 2010 average salary of 25,500 across all types of employment.

And most members of the Performing Rights Society are paid less than 5000 a year from royalty payments.

According to the Musicians Union, only 13% of full-time musicians can expect to earn more than the 16k figure a salary similar to that of a junior office administrator.

And while around 4% are generating a very comfortable income, the vast majority of entertainers are forced to either live on low wages or take other jobs.

The MU also reports that around 30,000 people in the UK manage to make a sustainable living from their music.

The UK government defines low income as 60% or less of the average which in current figures is 15,300. Authorities believe around a fifth of the UK lives on or below that poverty line.

Thanks for the report to RockAAA.com.

125 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Lou108
    the price you pay for art i suppose, if you are in it for the money tough luck.
    Thomasg2488
    Dimebag74 wrote: So talented musicians who dont sell out and make actually good music get paid barely enough to sustain themselves, and talentless sandy-haired 16 year old f@ggots like justin bieber become mad rich and famous for providing absolutely nothing of worth to society? Nice this world is awesome
    Unfortunately, the world still lives with what's popular at the moment instead of finding something they like. I had someone try and say 311 were the best band in the world and give me a copy of the album. I told him to go **** himself and named ONLY five bands that were better than them. 95% of people can't like something unless it's popular. Me, I'm 20 and I will ALWAYS prefer the old bands that actually made something great, Led Zeppelin, GN'R, Metallica, Aerosmith, Iron Maiden, etc. There may be some new stuff that is actually good to my ears such as Slipknot, RATM, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam that are good but NOTHING will ever defeat the old school music. As for musicians making a living being one, it will always be a hard road. I have a friend who does it and the only reason he makes a good living is because he's good at it. It doesn't pay as much but he enjoys it. Me, I plan to get my degree while doing it to make sure I have a back up plan. These guys who dream of making it as one have the Metallica, GN'R, Rolling Stones dreams in their heads instead of realistic ones. But hey, more power to them.
    Ardolino_Cool
    I think its just a lack of understanding on the most part of the majority of musicians that are full-time. A lot of people don't know the different avenues of making money and earning a wage in music. Quite a lot of people in music which in my experience is shocking have not heard of PRS...so its hard for people to make the money they deserve because they don't know they deserve it.
    Lou108
    strat0blaster wrote: 16,000 - which comes out to 24,920.24 USD, which is almost 5 thousand a year more than I make, and I'm a teacher. I wish I could pul 24k a year - playing music, which I love, would make that even better.
    "only 13% of full-time musicians can expect to earn more than the 16k figure" It would be good to be in the 13% but 87% of full time musicans earn less than that.
    Thrasher117
    If you want to be a musician for the money you're a dumbass anyway, is this really news to anyone?
    strat0blaster
    16,000 - which comes out to 24,920.24 USD, which is almost 5 thousand a year more than I make, and I'm a teacher. I wish I could pul 24k a year - playing music, which I love, would make that even better.
    hanselrocks1
    link no1 wrote: (double post) i just had a thought 16000 a year avarage -few months/weeks in recording studio (sleep at studio?) -few months on tour(sleep in a bass drum) -few weeks off (stay at parents/other halfs) -back to studio -back to tour i cant imagine that you would spend to much on house bills if you have no need for a house, and im sure the article said something like 16000 after record lable have there share etc. you would have 16000 saved up that you have hardly touched (in ways) am i thinking of this wrong???
    well you 4got food, clothing, appliances, and other taxes (tour bus and others)
    RoxxHunter
    And as stated before...Even if you do something like playing a style you're not as amped about as your regular type of music just remember you are getting paid to play guitar and that kicks ass...
    RoxxHunter
    Although it is sad that most gov't workers and other professionals make way more money and have benefits etc. Life without music would be dull. And as with most jobs. In a year I could do their job, in a year they couldn't do mine (or ours)...
    bfmvdisturbed92
    In response to Darkmessiahnz: Travis Meeks aka Days of the New has been invited to play in the Boston Pops as a completely self-taught musician. He not only does guitar, but composes a lot of other orchestral instruments, all without any training. He is a rock musician (really a one hit wonder, if that) who has been recognized by one of the most prestigious musical institutions around today
    Wow, didn't know that someone else actually appreciated Travis Meeks but me lol
    RoxxHunter
    I've been a full-time musician for about 6 or 7 years now and you've never heard of me so I don't make a LOT of money, but I do alright. You can really tell those who do music because they love it versus those who are in it to be famous or party. We all want to be famous but a lot of that is luck. I have noticed a few things though and that is being professional. You can make a living playing your guitar or bass if you are smart about it. People said I was crazy but I knew I wanted to do just that. Always think outside the box and never limit yourself. I love playing and I've played coffee houses, clubs, on tv and for DVDs and studio work. The most important lesson I ever learned was to get out and play every gig and every jam. People won't hire you or buy your CD if they don't know who you are. Be a good person, practice and enjoy playing. I'm not rich but I just bought a brand new car off the lot and it feels good knowing I paid for it just from playing guitar. Enjoy the day. Roxx
    link no1
    (double post) i just had a thought 16000 a year avarage -few months/weeks in recording studio (sleep at studio?) -few months on tour(sleep in a bass drum) -few weeks off (stay at parents/other halfs) -back to studio -back to tour i cant imagine that you would spend to much on house bills if you have no need for a house, and im sure the article said something like 16000 after record lable have there share etc. you would have 16000 saved up that you have hardly touched (in ways) am i thinking of this wrong???
    link no1
    1) maybee if there wasnt so many shit bands around these days. most stuff on radio or being released is bad, and i have never seen a local band i thought where even half good. it seems anybody can get signed, crap musicans are getting as many gigs as good musicians who write good songs. everything has gone to shit. bad bands = bottle from stage good band = buy there shit and watch there gigs that would soon stop many bad acts taking money 2) illigal downloads...90% of people download illigaly, 10% buy the album if they like it. i fit into the 10%. although i can see the benifits of downloading, the disadvantages far outweigh them. this UK band on torrent sites that i heard of seems like a VERY good idea at the moment 3) to many generic things. whatever TV says is good 80% of the country will buy that person's album because TV said to. If everybody on TV said to go out and buy metal albums this month im sure metal album sales would rise a hell of a lot. in other words, alot of people arnt having a choice, they are buying things because they are told to, witch means undeserving artists are getting money. something would need to be done about that (goodbye MTV and NME)
    Nitro89
    there are other branches within the music industry other then being in band you know, such as a session musician, teacher, orchestral players, writer in guitar magazine columns, creating music for films, games, adverts, tv shows etc, the possibilities are endless, my guitar tutor is an amazing guitarist, he isn't in a big band or anything atm, but he's doing so much and getting paid a nice bit.
    Dimebag74
    So talented musicians who dont sell out and make actually good music get paid barely enough to sustain themselves, and talentless sandy-haired 16 year old f@ggots like justin bieber become mad rich and famous for providing absolutely nothing of worth to society? Nice this world is awesome
    polishedbullet
    This is why I'm going to college for computer engineering. You need the financial stability first before you attempt to 'live the dream.' Plus, by the time I get settled out of college, I'll have more playing experience and not have to worry about where my next meal is coming from. THINK PEOPLE.
    Killzark
    They are talking about "musicians" not people in rock bands. And this is true that most performing musicians playing in local or traveling symphonies and stuff like that get paid very little. But there is money to be made if you look in the right places. Doing music for commercials and advertising is a great gig. As for making money in a band, that's just up to weather or not you make a hit song.
    Altitudinous
    Define "professional". A guitar teacher who teaches private lessons is above the poverty line. All these "professionals" who have sick new demos they can't wait to send out are hardly pro. Plus this is just in the UK.
    Slap-happy
    This doesn't only inlcude those musicians that have a "fan base" of any sort. There are many session guys, brass bands, classical musicians and more that strive to make a living. As for being deludued for wanting to make cash? It's completely plausible. There's money there for the making, although you have to get off your arse and do something about finding work. I have had session jobs and a couple of gigs playing stuff that I normally wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole (advertising jingles and a handful fo gigs with a fading '80s "rock star" playing covers of horrible songs) - all of which paid my rent, put food on my table and kept the car on the road. If I had purused it even further and pushed a little harder I could have gotten more of the same kind of work but I didn't feel comfortable doing that back then (about 10 years ago). I got paid reasonably well but I wanted to maintain a degree of integrity which is why I have a "proper" job now that allows me to amass more equipment and play for fun in a variety of projects and bands of my own choosing. If it became a chore I'd quit.
    hardrocker64
    you are supporting the record company buying the music.
    KramerW5150 wrote: Gettinbroady wrote: This is a joke, noone promised riches,Get a job or go on unemployment. no they arent promised riches, but nobody is making any money beacause all you @ssh*les are downloading all your music, people should start buying music and supporting artists or there wont be any music for you to download illegally at all in the near future
    hardrocker64
    yea no shit, people do it cuz they wanna do. only the lucky ones rake in the cash. you have to catch a break.
    falco.1993
    shouldn't the title be "Most Musicians in the UK Are On Poverty Line"? Cause thats all i'm seeing here. then again, I guess here in America there are probably quite a few more labels and everything....
    TwistClock
    Post article on ultimate guitar about people not getting lots of money from playing music Destroy the dreams of thousands as they go and get other jobs and stop playing music
    Thrace
    Shabalaba wrote: They should get a job then. If someone honestly expects to make a living off being in a band/musician they are deluded of dreams about being a rock star. Vast majority of bands never come to anything. I'm not saying being in a band is a bad idea but throwing everything you got into a band is stupid, everyone knows you have a suitable backup if the band didn't work out. The article is a load of crap though, chances are most musicians will earn a living on the side. Doing a 9-5 job then doing Oasis covers friday/saturday/sunday at a pub.
    Oh sorry mr know it all, what's wrong with wanting to make a living from music? Faggot.
    Ardolino_Cool
    Also..those that say being a musician for the money is wrong...are also wrong. It starts off as a passion...but some people want to make money doing music. Same as anyone with anything...I think a lot of amateur musicians are getting confused on that matter.
    wilberwildcat3
    Shabalaba wrote: They should get a job then. If someone honestly expects to make a living off being in a band/musician they are deluded of dreams about being a rock star. Vast majority of bands never come to anything. I'm not saying being in a band is a bad idea but throwing everything you got into a band is stupid, everyone knows you have a suitable backup if the band didn't work out. The article is a load of crap though, chances are most musicians will earn a living on the side. Doing a 9-5 job then doing Oasis covers friday/saturday/sunday at a pub.
    well somebody has to do it
    shreddymcshred
    They also don't work 40 hours a week, 45-50 weeks a year consistently. Performing can't be a full time gig for everyone. This is hardly news.
    devilex121
    well i dont exactly think of music as a money-making business i personally like to keep the arts and "non-art" tstuff separate
    leftinflinflon
    Well if I was a terrible lawyer I would not expect to make a lot of money, maybe there are just lots of shitty musicians out there...getting paid what they are worth. That's what I am thinking
    Hail
    rory wrote: 16K is pathetic, you will never own a house nor be able to raise a family with going on welfare. I can only imagine most of your or either naive teenager or immature 20 somethings. This is the reality of the rampant orgy stealing of musicians' music in the modern age. But, hey, you do it because you love them right? Right.
    Jason Newsted decided not to get married or have children so he could comfortably pursue his career in music. Is that immature?
    RATMRUSH
    I wouldn't call that 'poverty'. Anyways, I was slightly surprised the average wage was so low.
    rory
    16K is pathetic, you will never own a house nor be able to raise a family with going on welfare. I can only imagine most of your or either naive teenager or immature 20 somethings. This is the reality of the rampant orgy stealing of musicians' music in the modern age. But, hey, you do it because you love them right? Right.
    Rocker796
    We should know this from the Story of Anvil, of how record companies **** you about.
    MT in Austin
    16K GBP is not much less than starting teachers make in America. That's WITH a college degree and apprenticeship. Two careers that bring so much good, music and education, yet are highly under valued. If you're living alone or with a roommate, it is not bad but you can not provide for a family on those wages. Suits destroyed profits for artists of all types long before the internet came along. The "business" leeches money out of the system without enhancing the art. The internet has helped and hurt the situation. Bands can be seen by many more people inexpensively but, due to digital delivery and internet shopping, the brick and mortar record store is fading into the past. If record companies hadn't colluded to keep CD prices artificially high, perhaps record stores would have endured. Suits are still leeching. Apple pays the artist a pittance for tracks purchased through iTunes. Same BS but the suit wears a turtleneck.
    Mr Pringle
    As Jeff Rosenstock once said "If you want to make money, be an accountant" This profession isn't about the money.
    ollerom_mot
    I would LOVE to earn 16k to play music! I'm currently being paid 12,5, and I don't consider myself living in 'poverty'!
    SurfinWithSatch
    I'm in college at the moment studying music, but not just "playing in a band" stuff. It's teaching how to teach, how to read music (session work) all kinds of music software (Reason, Wave Labs, Pro Tools) for mixing/creating/recording etc. Also teaching how to make money from being in a band, doing everything yourself, marketing/merchandise/recording/mastering/managing your budget, basically all the stuff a record company would do for you, but here's the trick. Say you get signed by a record company and they say "here's 100,000, go and make your record in a top studio etc" say that album comes out in tesco selling at 10. Now of that 10, say 5 goes to tesco, 4 to record label, 1 to you. If you sell 100,000 records, how much money have you made?.....nothing, because the record label only lends you that initial 100,000, and you have to pay it back through that 1 you get. I'm assuming some of you will have heard of 'Kids In Glass Houses', well this is in effect what happened to them, my source? One of their parents. Alternatively if you do everything yourself for say 25,000 (which is definitely achievable) selling your cd's for 5 each, you sell 5000 albums and you start making money. Apparently record companies are now also going to start raping bands of their touring and merchandise monies aswell due to the whole illegal downloading thing. This won't necessarily be with current contracted bands, but with new bands they look to sign, new contracts will be drawn up. The old saying, don't sign anything until you've read it. Another problem is that there simply aren't that many good musicians around anymore as someone said earlier. When I started this college course I expected to be on it with other serious music lovers/musicians, but (don't mean to toot my own horn) other than myself and 2 maybe 3 others, there isn't a decent musician between them. For the last 4 or 5 months every week I keep having to re-teach Johnny B Goode to a guy in the 'college band' I'm stuck in. RANT OVER!
    Punk_Ninja
    I'm so far under the poverty line that a being a poor musician is the dream for me.
    Andy2k64
    EDIT: Also Averages are very silly things to compare things with. This is based on very rich and very poor people so take it with a pinch of salt.
    Andy2k64
    link no1 wrote: (double post) i just had a thought 16000 a year avarage -few months/weeks in recording studio (sleep at studio?) -few months on tour(sleep in a bass drum) -few weeks off (stay at parents/other halfs) -back to studio -back to tour i cant imagine that you would spend to much on house bills if you have no need for a house, and im sure the article said something like 16000 after record lable have there share etc. you would have 16000 saved up that you have hardly touched (in ways) am i thinking of this wrong???
    I guess its similar to people in the armed forces in this sense. You don't earn much but by time you come back you've got a fair bit to play with. I earn 14,000 a year and I have my own place. Covers everything plus a little bit more so without the 7,000+ I pay for bills and my house etc. I would have a nice little bit of cash left over!
    Cheesepuff
    you cant go into music for the money. im willing to get an extra job if im ever in that situation.. as long as i get to make music
    matt169
    They still earn more money than me... I work with autistic children. 9-3 job, plus I do extra bits on the side on weekends and 2 evenings a week and I'm earning about 13k a year.