It is fairly common to think of most singers as millionaires, while some are actually millionaires, these singers are in the minority. Most singers actually struggle to pay their bills on time, and some have even squandered their wealth which all came from one song.
Singers can make anything between $300 per song to virtually millions, the actual number will depend on how popular the song is and how the song is monetized like, live events, record label contracts, brand deals, streaming services, commercials, and royalties.
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Most people do think that singers make a lot of money with each song, however, this is not entirely true. As the music industry is an extremely competitive one each singer will try to have an edge in front of the other, oftentimes spending wast amounts of money during the process. Don’t get me wrong you can make a song for just a couple of hundred dollars by renting a studio for a couple of hours, however, usually, these singers do not have a large enough following to make an actual profit.
One of the most important aspects of how much money does a singer makes per song is their actual contract with the recording label. As the recording label’s main task is to generate profit oftentimes singers with no experience in how actually the music industry works might find themselves trapped in an awful contract where they can simply no longer walk away as it would mean that they will have to pay massive fines to the recording company.
The major difference in how much a singer makes per song is how famous they are, simply put the more popular an artist is the higher his or her payout is. In addition to this, the payout for each song could differ from one state to another massively. Generally, speaking internationally famous singers do get paid the most per song. Although you do not have to actually be famous to make money from singing, just read my article if you want more information How to make money by singing ( Top 27 Methods ).
There are a lot of factors when it comes to how much they actually make per song, and most of these factors were not even available to singers 15 years ago. We live in the digital age and there are a lot of options for singers on how they can monetize their song, most if not all use platforms like Spotify to further enhance their income. If you browse around Spotify you will see a lot of artists specialized only in singing their songs on Spotify as the small amounts of money which they get for each viewer or listener can quickly add up.
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Live events ( $100-$250 000 on average )
A lot of singers go on tours around the country or even around the world singing at different events. Not only to promote their brand and name but to also make a good profit. Usually, when people think of a band or singer being on a tour they think of some big singer, the truth is that smaller bands and singers are often the ones who are more on the road in comparison to famous singers. This is mostly due to the fact that singers who are already famous can rely on their audience to make money.
On the other hand, singers who do not have yet a big following will need to cultivate an audience somehow and one of the best ways to do it is to sing at live events. Even if you are a beginner singer you could still take advantage of live events, most of these do tend to have some breaks between major artists and the organizers will have to fill these gaps with lesser-known singers, and this is where you come in, for more information check out my article How to get discovered as a singer ( As FAST as possible ).
Generally speaking, singers will be paid in two ways for performing at local events:
- Percentage of ticket sales: If the singer has a big following then usually they get a percentage of the tickets from the live event. The actual amount of money which they will get will be also impacted by their recording label contract as oftentimes these companies make they actual live event and they spend a considerable amount of money in promoting the event and by paying all the licenses and staff. These live events performed by a singer where they get a percentage of the tickets can in some cases even add up to millions of dollars.
- Flat fee: Another option on how singers will be paid is with a flat fee, this simply means that the event organizers and the singer’s manager or the actual singer make a deal on how much they will be paid. Usually, the singer or their manager will get an upfront payment weeks in advance and the rest of the money will be paid after the performance. Although there are some singers who do not even go on the stage if they are not paid in full.
Record label contracts
As I have mentioned above one of the most decisive factors as to how much money a singer makes per song will depend on their contract with the record label. Oftentimes these record labels do invest a lot of money in singers by promoting them and by making different types of events where the singer performs. All this costs a lot of money and the record label will expect you to make them a profit, this is why some record label contracts might even have absurd clauses in them.
If a record label finds an upcoming talented singer then they will want to bind them with a contract for at least a couple of years, this way the artist has few if any options if they want to change record labels. This is why it is a good idea to have a manager, they will also take a chunk out of your profit but they will have the experience to negotiate the contracts for better than any singer. Oftentimes singers consider themselves professional singers once they have a contract with a record label, although you don’t even need to have a contract in order to become a professional singer if you want to find out more then check out my article How long does it take to become a professional singer? ( The Honest Truth ).
Popularity of the song
There are thousands of talented singers who do make their original songs but they find it extremely hard to actually make any money from them. The problem is that the music industry is flooded with new people every year, and no matter how talented you are as a singer you will have to stand out of the crowd. The wast majority of songs are lucky to have their 15 minutes of fame, and there is an extremely low chance of becoming an international hit overnight.
However, this can happen as it has done so a lot of times in the past, remember PSY Gangnam Style? This song has become a success virtually overnight, and most people have never heard of the artists. His song was so popular that YouTube had to change their views counter as the song had over a billion views in just a couple of weeks and YouTube didn’t ever expect for a video to be so popular. If you look on YouTube for Gangnam Style you will see that the video has over 3 billion views as of today, the song made around 8 million dollars.
Brand deals are a great way to make money as a singer even without singing. Brands want to be associated with famous and successful people, like athletes, singers, and actors. This is a simple psychological trick which means that when people see their favorite artist using some kind of brand they might end up using the same brand far easier. These brand deals are generally not for only one song but for the actual person who is singing.
Although there is a direct correlation between brand deals and singers having one successful song, but in general, the brand deals will want to be associated with artists and in some cases with the actual song but this is an entirely different subject matter which I will address later. Generally, speaking these brand deals are around a couple of millions of dollars if the singer has international fame if the singer is only famous in the USA then the brand deal might end up making them a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year.
Do note that these brand deals are usually for a couple of years with some kinds of stipulations in it, which in the long run might even make the singer more money than an actual song.
Spotify can increase how much an actual song makes by a lot, only a few years ago we didn’t have any music streaming technology other than what we had on the TV. Streaming music is big money, the downside is that sites like Spotify pay only a few cents every time somebody listens to the song. The good news is that Spotify has millions of users and if the song is fairly ok then it will have no problem gaining thousands of listeners, which all add up.
For example, Shake It Off from Taylor Swift has around 45 million streams or listeners, this, in turn, has made here around $300k, which increases the amount of how much her song has made. As she has a contract with a recording label which means that she probably has a percentage of that sum and not the entire sum.
Although you will not find commercials during songs, thankfully we are not at that point yet. But you will find commercials playing before or after the song and sometimes even during the song, although this only happens on streaming and social platforms. On the other hand televised programs that will feature the singer performing will probably have some commercials during the event and sometimes the singers will make a percentage of money from the actual commercial.
When it comes to commercials or ads increasing how much money a song actually makes we have to take a look at two things that might change the industry forever.
- YouTube: Youtube is full of music, and the site pays every year billions in royalties for singers. Sometimes the actual video of the song will have an ad before or right after the song, although this is infuriating for the listener as nobody wants to listen to a song only for it to be interrupted by some loud 30-minute ad. But still, these ads do make a lot of money depending on the popularity of the song.
- YouTube Music: Youtube has recently launched this feature which doesn’t have any ads, the business model is fairly similar to Spotify. Meaning that the singer will be paid a small amount of money every time somebody listens to their song. On the other hand for this feature, the end-user will have to pay a fee every month.
When trying to calculate how much money a song makes for the singer it is vital that we take into consideration the royalties. Royalties simply mean that singers who make their original songs will get paid every time somebody else performs that song, the song is played on the radio, the TV, or online. The artist doesn’t directly collect money from these sources as they would be on the road forever, singers sign up for organizations that do collect these royalties on their behalf.
This is why some songs which are older can become an overnight success and make a lot of money for the singer. There are also some singers which had made one successful sung and they have lived off the royalties their entire life, although if you are a singer you shouldn’t get your hopes up as luck plays a big part in this.
When it comes to how much money do singers make per song there are a lot of factors which you have to take into consideration. A couple of decades ago most songs would have made money for one or two years at best, but nowadays some songs have the potential to make money for decades if not longer. This is why it is so hard to calculate how much money a song makes, as the sum keeps on changing from one year to another.