The Multi-Billion Dollar Music Industry Operating in the Dark

How does the music business get paid


The music business is complicated and everyone who works in it must earn money. While there are many ways to get paid, the most common method is through royalties. This article will explain how royalties work and how they can impact your earnings as an artist or manager.


Royalties are the money paid to songwriters and artists for the use of their work. They’re paid by record labels, radio stations, and live venues, who typically pay a percentage of their gross revenue on each song.

Artist’s earnings

Your earnings as a musician can come from a number of sources. The most obvious is record sales, but there are many other ways to make money as an artist.

    • Royalties: Royalties are payments made to artists each time their music is played on the radio or streamed over the internet. They’re typically paid by record labels in exchange for the rights to distribute and sell your music to the public. As an independent artist, you may also earn royalties through licensing agreements with companies that use your tracks in various projects (such as films).n
    • Live shows: Another way you might earn income from your music is through live performances at venues around town or even around the world! This includes ticket sales, merchandise sales (such as T-shirts or vinyl records), and sometimes even sponsorship deals with brands who want their products associated with musicians like yourself. It’s important to note here that most artists don’t make much off these third-party contracts since they’re typically negotiated directly between venue owners/booking agents and sponsors rather than band members themselves…but it’s always nice when one comes along!

Label’s earnings

Labels also earn money through sales of physical products, such as CDs and vinyl records. In addition to the royalties they receive from artists (more on that below), labels receive royalties from each sale of an artist’s physical release.

According to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), in 2017 consumers bought 1.22 billion albums in the United States alone. Based on the average price point per album (which is around $10 these days), that amounts to more than $12 billion worth of music sold by record companies and artists alike—money that goes straight into their pockets! Labels also make money by selling digital downloads and streaming subscriptions for individual songs or albums, licensing out music for commercials or movies, merchandising clothing lines affiliated with artists’ names…the list goes on!

Publishing company’s earnings

The publishing company’s earnings are based on the number of streams, downloads, and physical copies sold. For example, if you write a song that someone else records and sells 100,000 albums, then your publishing company will be entitled to 10% of those sales (10% being standard for top-line writers).

These numbers can add up quickly. But what about other ways artists get paid?

Manager’s earnings

Your manager is a professional who works with you to improve your career. They are paid from the money you make, so they only get paid if you’re making money.

They negotiate contracts and help book gigs, and keep an eye on what’s going on in the business. In some cases, they help with songwriting (in exchange for a cut of course!).

A good manager knows how to get things done and can help you get out there and succeed as an artist!

Lawyer’s earnings

Lawyers are an essential part of the music business. They help negotiate contracts, make sure everyone gets paid, and mediate disputes between artists and managers, labels, and publishers.

There are two main types of lawyers in the music industry: corporate lawyers (who work for record labels or publishing companies), and litigation attorneys (who represent artists). Litigation attorneys range from general practice to specialists like entertainment lawyers or intellectual property lawyers.

Corporate law firms can earn anywhere from $150 per hour to over $1000 per hour for their services; it depends on their level of specialization as well as their experience with major clients such as record labels and publishers. Litigation attorneys usually charge a flat fee based on the amount of time they think your case will take them for example, if you have a simple dispute with your manager over money owed from touring revenue then you might pay only a few hundred dollars in legal fees while any case involving copyright infringement could cost tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands!

The music business is complicated and everyone who works in it must earn money.

The music business is complicated and everyone who works in it must earn money.  The first part of this statement is obvious, but it’s also worth repeating: the music business is complicated. It involves a lot of people and there are lots of ways to make money as a musician or producer. This truth leads us to the second point: everyone must earn money.


It’s important to remember that the music business is a complicated industry, with many players involved and much money at stake. Everyone who works in it must earn money, whether through royalties or other means. The way artists and labels get paid is different from how managers, lawyers, or other professionals earn income from their services. And even though everyone has the incentive to make sure that everyone else gets their fair share of earnings (otherwise they might not work together in the future), there are still many opportunities for disputes over who should get what percentage of revenue streams flowing through this complex system of transactions!