Singing at concerts is a big business, what people tend to think is that most of the money will go to the singer. The truth is that most of the money from the concert will actually go to the recording label, and the singer is paid from the actual profit made by the concert.
Generally speaking, a singer can make anything from $500 per concert up to several millions, the actual sum of how much they make will also depend on several factors like being a lead singer, being a backup singer, singing original songs, cots of the actual concert, concert logistics, live or playback singing, ticket sales, marketing, hourly rate, touring concerts, and the percentage of taxes the singer needs to pay.
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Most people think that singers make millions of dollars per concert, however, this is far from the truth. Usually, concerts are made and paid by the recording labels, which in addition to making the actual concert will pay for the entire event, plus promotion and hiring the staff. This all costs a lot of money and that is why you only see big names in the music industry doing concerts usually.
There are some singers in bands or solo singers which actually make their own concerts, however, these are fairly small and localized to one town. Another aspect which takes a significant cut out of how much a singer makes per concert is the actual licenses and fees which will have to be paid upfront before the actual concert. Making a concert is a team effort, first, the record label selects which singer to perform, usually, they do not look at the actual talent of the singer but of the money-making potential.
Once they have decided on which singer to use for a concert they will make an in-depth plan on how and where the concert will take place. Usually a couple of weeks before the concert they will start promoting it on radio and TV shows. Oftentimes this requires the singer to go to different radio and TV shows in order to promote the concert. As you can see the concert has not yet even begun and everybody is already working and being paid.
Earning money from a concert is very different from earning money from a song, as the concert is a one time gig and the song could potentially make money for years after its release if you want more information on the subject check out my article How much do singers make per song? ( The Honest Truth ). Generally speaking, most concerts make a good profit and the singer will also have a good sum of money at the end of the concert.
However, there are some concerts or even festivals which flopped hard, due to mismanagement and incompetence. Check out the story of Fyre Festival, to see how a luxury event with villas turned out to be a festival with UNICEF tents and virtually no singers or DJ’s showing up.
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Earnings of lead singers
Singers who sing in a band and are in the position of the lead singer tend to make the most amount of money. This is fairly normal as the entire band is relying on the lead person’s voice. There are a lot of bands who have changed their lead singers for one reason or another and some of them have virtually destroyed any potential success which they may have had. The problem is that lead singer is what makes the band popular, while you can change almost any of the musicians and almost nobody will notice, this is not true for the lead singer due to their unique voice.
Some bands have an equal share of the money, however, this is fairly rare because as soon as the lead singer realizes that he is irreplaceable then he or she will end up asking money from concerts and any other events. Some singers who want to leave the band for one reason or another they will ask for a much higher cut or simply a lot more money, at this point either the band accepts it or the lead singer walks. Another big revenue for singers, other than concerts is from social media sites and YouTube, if you want how much they actually make with YouTube then check out my article How do singers make money from YouTube? ( In 9 Easy Ways ).
As for how much singers make per concert depends on two factors:
- New singer: New singers do not get such a big of a cut of the earnings or the profit of the concert. Simply put the recording label does know that as the singer is fairly new it will be hard to rely on his or her name to gather a big enough crowd to make significant money. Generally, speaking new singers perform at concerts between the main gigs, and they can earn anything from $300 to $2000, anything above this sum of money is most likely highly situational on other aspects than the singer itself.
- Established singers: Here is the big money, most established singers make more money per concert than the average person in their entire life. Taylor Swift, for example, earns around $1 million per concert and Adele around $500k and Pink made over $100 million with her concert tour called “Trauma”, not bad for just a couple of hours of singing. As for how much money they actually get entirely depends on their contracts with the recording label and as these are highly confidential we can not make a good estimative. As for how much does Pink makes per concert, it is hard to say but the estimative is around a couple of million dollars per concert.
Beginner singers who are talented actually start off as backup singers for some established singer, if they are lucky. Sometimes these do have contracts with the recording labels although not always. Generally, speaking backup singers do not get an actual percentage of the earnings from the concert, rather they get paid a set fee. This set fee will depend on almost entirely on the lead singer’s ability to attract people, simply put some singers who are more popular than others.
For backup singers who do not sing for very vell established singers, the payout per concert can be as low as $150, on the other side, being a backup singer for someone like Adele could earn them anything between $3000 to $8000. Most established singers do have backup singers, for example, Taylor Swift. As for how much do Taylor Swift’s backup singers get paid the answer is around a couple of thousand dollars per concert.
Generally speaking, most singers who perform at live concerts sing their own original songs, however, this is not always the case. If the singer doesn’t sing his or her original song than their profit will decrease even further as they will have to pay royalties to the original creators of the song. If you want to know how royalties operate and how singers make actual money then check out my recent article How to make money by singing ( Top 27 Methods ).
In case that the singer performs their original songs than the payout will be significantly higher as there is no added cost of paying the royalties.
Cost of the concert
One of the biggest factors when it comes to how much money a singer makes per concert is the actual cost of the concert. While most people think that a concert can be simply put together by a couple of people and a simple stage this is far from the truth. Project managers have to plan everything in detail, like how will they get the stage to the location, who will assemble it, how many toilets will there be needed, who will be in charge of the security and what are the costs of renting out the place where the concert will be held.
Most people forget about concert logistics, but these can quickly add up and lower the amount of money which a singer makes. Large trucks have to be rented to haul the stage, busses also for the sound engineers, engineers to make the stage and even hotel bookings if for each member of the staff. All these can add up faster, on the other hand, concerts which do need a large amount of money with logistics tend to make a lot more money in profit due to the singer.
Live or playback concerts
Live and playback singing is paid completely different at concerts. The truth is that not all singers sing live and they usually do not have an entire concert based upon them, rather they sing as part of a concert which ahs several singers and bands performing one after the other. Generally sepaking most singers who do not sing live are paid a set fee, and this can be anything between $500 to a couple of thousand dollars.
On the other hand, singers who do sing live at concerts are paid a lot more, sometimes even a percentage of the ticket sales, this even happens if the concert is a mixed one which means that more bands and singers will sing on the stage.
Singers who have concerts rely on ticket sales to make money, generally speaking, they have two options when it comes to the profits of ticket sales. They can either choose to make a large concert where thousands of people could be present or smaller concerts with fewer people. In the case where the concert can have thousands of people the tickets can start from around $50 and in case of the VIP tickets, these can be around $150.
In case the concert is for a smaller crowd the cost of the ticket can be extremely high, generally speaking, these smaller concerts for established and famous singers start around $500 and go up to several thousands of dollars. While this money isn’t going to go right in the pocket of the singer, but after calculating the expenses of the concert they will still remain with a good amount of money from the ticket sales alone.
Big names make big money, it is as simple as that. On the other hand, record labels will pay a lot of money for promoting the concert espcailly if the singer is famous. As the record label’s main goal is to make money it will want to attract as many people to the concert. Some record labels also think that even a mediocre singer can make a good amount fo profit provided that they pump enough money into the promotion, although this doesn’t work always.
There are some singers which take an hourly rate, although these are relatively few. The hourly rate of a singer at a concert starts around $10 000 for smaller singers and for well-established singers it can start at above the $100k. Generally, speaking these tend to happen at festivals where concerts of individual singers last one or two hours. As the festival has a lot of concerts which attract people they do not want to pay a percentage of the actual sale as they will not make any profit by doing this.
Most established singers will start touring the country or the world at some point during their careers, either in a band like Kiss or solo. Once they have the logistics figured out and the expenses for the first concert paid than there will be no more need for additional investment as the sale of the tickets for the concert will make the necessary cash flow needed for the tour. As for how many touring singers make per concert it is hard to say. If you are wondering how much does Kiss make per concert, then you might be surprised that in total their latest tour has made over $200 million, which makes Kiss earn per concert around $10-20 million.
The actual sum will differ from one city to another and it will be also impacted by the media coverage and the promotion. Oftentimes less established singers will not have enough money to pay for the tour and also pay for the promotion of the actual concerts. In this case, some of them will rely on promoting themselves for free tough social media and by being present at radio shows.
Let us not forget that no matter how much money singers make they will still have to pay taxes like everybody else. Although I am not an accountant and not familiar as to how much famous singers actually pay but it is a safe et that it will probably be around 30% of their entire revenue. This, of course, will also depend on the state where the singer lives, simply put some states have higher taxes than others.
Most beginner singers dream about performing at their own concerts, however when it comes to money you will find that only the well-established singers make the big money. On the other hand, you as even a new singer could make around $50k per year fairly easy just from singing at concerts.