Every year here in beautiful Boston, Mass., the Berklee College of Music releases a guide to music industry careers. It’s about as complete a survey as I’ve seen. Here’s a more or less representative list of positions and corresponding yearly hauls in 2012.
Music librarian: Starting salary $40k
Video game sound designer: $40k – $120k
Music journalist: $15k – $30k
Record producer: $25k (good luck) – $1M (P. Diddy)
Concert promoter: $0 to $1M (most are on the low end, no?)
Piano tuner: $100 – $185 per piano tuned
Commercial jingle composer: $100 – $8k+ per jingle
Church choir director: $5k – $70k
Orchestral musician: $28k – $143k
The whole thing is in this PDF. As you scroll down you’ll see this table:
After you figure out what’s going on there — that visual is a little weird — you can see teaching (lessons, classes) had a tidy uptick in pay over the past five years. Meanwhile, if you’re a session musician, or if you sell your own albums, you’re probably hurtin’ for walk-around money. Since this is 2012 data, I imagine those trends have continued. Nobody buys music anymore, except for vinyl.
The lessons here, I think, are: get cash where you can, teach lessons, become a major-label record producer, earn your first million by tuning 10,000 pianos, and good luck if you want a lucrative orchestra position.