25 Highest Paying Careers in the Music Industry (2021 Numbers)

Foundations of Music

25 Highest Paying Careers in the Music Industry (2021 Numbers)

When thinking about a music career, the first thing we have in mind is playing on a stage in front of many people. However, being a top performer is not the only career in the music industry. Let’s see what are the highest paying careers in the music industry.

1. Orchestral Musician

One of the best careers for a musician who plays an orchestra instrument is an orchestral musician. Landing a job as a member of a major orchestra is a dream come true for many aspirants. 

The work conditions are good, and the salary is also good. Depending on the orchestra’s reputation and size, major salaries range between $100,000 and $150,000. (1)

To become a member of an orchestra you don’t need a B.A. However, most orchestra musicians graduated from a four-year college with a strong music program. Also, it is important to play well as you will have to pass a so-called “blind audition”.

Median Salary: $48,836 per year
Higher-end Salary: $100,000 – $150,000 per year
Education: Four-year college diploma
Training or Experience: Constant practice
Expected Growth: 5%

2. Music Therapist

Music therapy is a great option for musicians who are interested in a meaningful career. Helping people heal through music can bring a lot of satisfaction, and a nice paycheck.

The salaries for music therapists range between $30,880 and $77,970. (2) And, even if this is not much, this allied health profession is proven to help many people. Moreover, it is a good opportunity to practice your psychological and communication skills.

Becoming a music therapist does not necessarily involve the existence of a B.A., but you need to have a music therapy degree. All you need to do is to complete the degree equivalency program in music therapy offered by many universities.

Median Salary: $48,000 per year
Higher-end Salary: $77,970 per year
Education: Master’s degree in music therapy
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: 7%

3. Video Game Sound Designer

One of the most interesting jobs in the music industry is video game sound designer. If you are passionate about gaming and you are also a talented musician, this might be the dream job for you.

In the gaming industry, the careers involving music might carry different names like audio designer, sound designer, or audio engineer. But the job description is similar, no matter where you go. 

Game audio sound designers earn from $24,000 up to $150,000 per year (3). However, it is important to keep in mind that most sound designers work as contractors, and their earnings depend on the projects they are involved in.

Median Salary: $53,336 per year
Higher-end Salary: $150,000 per year
Education: Bachelor’s degree in audio engineering
Training or Experience: Need to have a portfolio
Expected Growth: 11,59%

4. Music Attorney

Among the careers that involve music but do not imply playing, a music attorney is a good option for those who have a bachelor’s degree and Juris Doctor Degree from an accredited law school.

A music lawyer is responsible for representing different professions in the music industry. They are highly involved in drafting, signing, and negotiating contracts on behalf of music artists. They can also file lawsuits related to intellectual property rights or copyright.

The average salary for a music attorney is about $144,230 per year and, sometimes, they can even earn a percentage of the deal they helped seal (5).

Median Salary: $144,230 per year
Higher-end Salary: $162,000 per year
Education: Bachelor’s degree and Juris Doctor degree
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: 6%

5. Audio Engineer

One of the music careers that generate a good income, and we must mention, is the audio engineering field. The salaries range between $25,000 and $112,000 per year and depend on the experience and skills (5).

A good audio engineer should be capable of adjusting the audio setting according to the customers’ preferences. Apart from this, he or she should be capable of setting up an audio environment and maintaining the equipment.

Communication skills are also required since audio engineers collaborate with top performers and producers.

This is one of the art jobs that don’t require a degree but skills and passion.

Median Salary: $53,222 per year
Higher-end Salary: $112,095 per year
Education: Associate’s degree
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: 8%

6. Music Professor

We cannot talk about music-related careers without mentioning the music professors. If you have a Ph.D. or at least a master’s degree in music, you can become a music professor. Teaching college students how to perform or play an instrument is equally satisfactory.

Some of the responsibilities of a music professor include teaching college courses in music-related disciplines, creating course syllabi and lesson plans, or coordinating college music performances.

In terms of music education salaries, the music professors earn an average of $69,000 per year but the amount can go up to $79,000, depending on the location and the experience (6).

Median Salary: $69,960 per year
Higher-end Salary: $79,000 per year
Education: Doctor of Musical Arts, Ph.D. in Music, Ph.D. in Music Education
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: 8%

7. Pre-Middle School Music Teacher

Music and art careers also include the pre-middle school music teacher job. This is a job that requires a lot of patience and passion. The students’ age varies, and teaching little kids how to play an instrument or sing might be a daunting task.

Becoming a pre-middle school music teacher typically does not require advanced studies. However, you will need at least a bachelor’s degree in music or music education. Also, you will need to complete an approved teacher preparation program.

The demand for music teachers is in continuous growth, and an average of $59,000 does not sound bad either (7).

Median Salary: $59,420 per year
Higher-end Salary: $125,000 per year (private schools)
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Music Education
Training or Experience: Must be capable to explore a wide range of genres
Expected Growth: 4%

8. Music Director or Composer

Some musical careers involve, apart from performing or teaching, arranging existing music into new compositions or composing original parts for bands or orchestras.

Music directors conduct musical groups and make sure the overall sound is coherent, with a balanced melody, timing, and rhythm.

Composers create new musical arrangements or write lyrics for music. Songwriters are not only dealing with classical or jazz music, they are also involved in the television and theatre industry.  

Although talent does not require a diploma, employers would typically ask for a master’s degree in musical theory.

A music composer’s salary is, on average, about $51,000 per year but can go up higher for songwriters involved in movie or theatre productions (8).

Median Salary: $51,670 per year
Higher-end Salary: $111,500 per year
Education: Bachelor’s, Master’s, Ph.D. in a related field
Training or Experience: Experience in orchestras
Expected Growth: 2%

9. Disc Jockey (DJ)

Among the music-related jobs that generate a decent income, we must nominate the DJs. A DJ is paid to gather people and entertain them with different genres of music. They even mix up different sounds for a brand new acoustic experience.

Being a DJ does not require any musical studies just a set of skills like a good ear for rhythm, creativity to mix music, a good knowledge of crowds, enough energy to entertain people, and some technical skills.

The DJ career is one of those jobs for music lovers that can bring a lot of money. The highest-paid DJs can earn up to $221,000 per year, but there are famous names that get millions for their performances (9).

Median Salary: $40,200 per year
Higher end Salary: $221,000+ per year 
Education: None
Training or Experience: Knowledge of new software and gear
Expected Growth: 2,6%

10. Recording Engineer

If you are looking for a career in music production, becoming a recording engineer might be right for you.  Being a recording engineer requires a certain skill set but the recording engineer salaries make it worthwhile.

A good recording engineer has many opportunities for developing a successful career in music, television, broadcasting, or video games fields. You don’t necessarily need a high degree diploma, but experience and good technical expertise are a must.

You might even work with famous people, so it is important to have good communication skills.

The average annual salary for a recording engineer is $60,756 per year, but the amount can get much higher, depending on the project (10).

Median Salary: $60,756 per year
Higher-end Salary: $98,240 per year 
Education: High-school diploma
Training or Experience: Training programs, apprenticeships
Expected Growth: 2%

11. Choir/Opera/Orchestra Conductor

If you like music and harmony, perhaps one of the music jobs that fit you is choir/opera/orchestra conductor. But you must keep in mind that this is one of the most demanding music occupations.

Becoming a music conductor requires a series of talents and skills that stand you aside from the other musicians: an incredible capacity to interpret the score of any composition, and they must be sensitive and sympathetic.

When speaking of salary, this may vary depending on the location and the orchestra’s size and reputation. The average wage for an orchestra conductor is $51,951 per year. Well-established conductors of famous orchestras can earn up to $500.000 (11).

Median Salary: $51,951 per year
Higher-end Salary: $500,000 per year 
Education: Bachelor’s and Master’s degree 
Training or Experience: Significant musical training
Expected Growth: 1%

12. Booking Agent

Some of the music industry jobs do not involve performing, mixing, or producing.  A booking agent will secure performances for bands or singers. Part of their responsibilities includes negotiating details (payment, time of performance, contracts), providing quotes, or promoting the artist outside the scheduled performance.

The booking agent will also arrange transportation and accommodation for the artists and might get involved in event planning.

To work as a booking agent you will need good communication skills, strong negotiating skills, and, ultimately, stress resistance. Having a diploma in the music management field is a big plus.

The average salary for a music booking agent is $50,000, while a top agent might earn up to $104,000 per year (12).

Median Salary: $50,000 per year
Higher-end Salary: $104,000 per year 
Education: Associate’s degree in Music Management 
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: 1.38%

13. Songwriter

This industry offers many music opportunities to talented artists who do not necessarily aim to play in front of a crowd. If you are a talented composer but a shy person, you can always become a songwriter for a famous performer or band.

Songwriters typically start working as freelancers but soon as they gain experience and become recognized, they might be hired by big label companies.

This is one of the best day jobs for musicians, especially if a famous band or singer decides to play your compositions. Spending long hours mixing and compiling music can bring you about $65,914 per year (13). 

Or you can sell a song for a huge amount of money.

Median Salary: $65,914 per year
Higher-end Salary: $500,000+ per year (for a hit)
Education: None 
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: 1.38%

14. Music Producer

If you aim for a musical production career, there are some things you should know.  A music producer is that person that oversees every aspect of studio production. He or she might simply listen to tracks and approve them or get involved in placing microphones or adjusting tones.

The music producer requires an extensive skill set as their job might involve acting as a recording engineer, music arranger, manager, even mentor for the musicians.

This music career does not require you to have specific diplomas although it is recommended to have some audio engineering training.

The average music producer salary is about $55,000 per year (14).

Median Salary: $51,000 per year
Higher-end Salary: $99,000 per year
Education: None 
Training or Experience: Audio engineering training
Expected Growth: 2%

15. Mastering Engineer

Music production cannot function without mastering engineers, those people who make sure the songs sound flawless and get them ready for mass distribution.  

To become a mastering engineer you don’t need a master’s degree however, any media school training in audio production gives you an extra chance and expands your music career list. 

Even though you have a good ear and great rhythm, an audio engineering course will teach you everything about the required software.

This is one of those careers in music industry that generate a high income. On average, a mastering engineer earns $72,323 per year, and there is an increased demand for such specialists (15).

Median Salary: $72,323 per year
Higher-end Salary: $143,000 per year
Education: Media school training in audio production 
Training or Experience: Constant training on production and recording software
Expected Growth: 12%

16. Music Critic

We spoke about music production jobs and different jobs for musicians, so it is time to talk about those who review the artists’ performances.

If you enjoy music and have an in-depth knowledge of music artistry, you might become a music critic. You don’t need to have specific training or education to build up an audience for your reviews.

As soon as you shape your style and start making your voice heard, you can aim for a better job as a music reviewer for different websites, newspapers, and regular publishers.

On average, a music critic earns $52,608 per year but it can go up to $271,999 (16).

Median Salary: $52,608 per year
Higher-end Salary: $271,999 per year
Education: Post-secondary training 
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: 0%

17. Session Musician

One of the available jobs for musicians is a session musician career. These artists usually play solo and are for-hire musicians. They play on recordings and live shows as support bands or backing vocals for famous artists.

Session musicians play what they are asked to, so versatility is very important if choose this career path. You also need to practice regularly and be able to learn quickly. If you pass the auditions, you might be asked to travel.

The median annual session musician salary is $58,552, while a top session musician salary can earn up to $153,000 per year (17).

Median Salary: $58,552 per year
Higher-end Salary: $153,000 per year
Education: None 
Training or Experience: Constant practice
Expected Growth: 6%

18. Bioacoustician

Bioacoustics is another field that is also related to music. We cannot have music without sound so the science of sound is very important especially when setting up a recording studio.

Acoustic engineers determine the sound quality of different facilities designed as performing spaces or as recording studios. They also ensure that buildings comply with local noise standards and provide valuable advice regarding noise cancellation.

To pursue such a career, you need a bachelor’s or master’s degree in engineering, excellent hearing, and manual dexterity.

The average salary for a bioacoustician is $54,740 per year (18).

Median Salary: $54,740 per year
Higher-end Salary: $112,000 per year
Education: Bachelor’s, Master’s degree in engineering 
Training or Experience: At least four years experience in the field
Expected Growth: 10%

19. Road Manager

Road managers are those people that make performers’ tours happening. Responsible for scheduling the events, getting the artists where they need to be when they need to be there, or managing the tour finances, a road manager is the one who stands by the artists as long as the tour lasts.

As a road manager, you need to agree on a flexible schedule, have good communication skills, and a lot of patience.

The income is pretty good, hitting an annual median salary of $55,842 (19). Moreover, overtime and expenses are covered by the employers. Depending on the size of the tour, you might get very rich.

Median Salary: $55,842 per year
Higher-end Salary: $61,105 per year
Education: Majors in Music Business or Music Industry 
Training or Experience: Experience in different music industry roles
Expected Growth: 2%

20. Music Communications

Not all music business jobs are related to performing or producing. Some of these jobs in music industry involve communications.  If you have a bachelor’s degree in communications and you love music, maybe you should consider working as an entertainment journalist, A&R coordinator, or promotion manager.

The highest income is earned by promotion managers who usually work for big label companies. An experienced promotion manager might earn up to $129,000 per year.

Working as an entertainment journalist can bring you up to $40,000 per year and it is a good way to start a music business career (20).

Median Salary: $40,000 per year
Higher-end Salary: $129,000 per year
Education: Bachelor’s degree in Communications or Business Administration
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: 6%

21. Music Franchise Owner

There are plenty of jobs for artists but what about those who love music but have no artistic skills?  Well, if you are one of those, you can always become a franchise owner and get a decent income from this business.

Becoming a franchise owner means that you will buy a business that is part of a chain. Music franchises include instrument repairs, academies where children can learn to sing or perfect their talents, and music store opportunities.

On average, as a franchise owner, you can make up to $60,000 per year but this income might be higher (21).

Median Salary: $60,000 per year
Higher-end Salary: $500,000+ per year
Education: None
Training or Experience: None
Expected Growth: 7%

22. Instrument Repairer and Tuner

An instrument repairer and tuner will never run out of customers. Especially experienced craftworkers will always have to fix damaged instruments or tune them.

If you choose to direct your career path towards this direction, keep in mind that restoring instruments is very detailed and hard work. String instruments are particularly moody when it comes to woodworking.

Although there is no need to display a specific diploma, you should know that a good instruments repairer knows how to play a wide range of instruments. Developing an ear for tonal quality is a must and so are manual dexterity and mechanical knowledge.

Instrument repairers and tuners earn an average of $30,787 per year but depending on the experience, the amount can go higher (22).

Median Salary: $30,787 per year
Higher-end Salary: $59,020 per year
Education: Post-secondary certificate
Training or Experience: Courses in electricity, woodworking, mechanical drawing
Expected Growth: -7%

23. Singer

Perhaps the most famous job among the music professions is that of a singer.  If you were blessed with a good voice and you are willing to constantly improve your native qualities, you should think about a singer career.

Apart from the singing talent, a good singer must be capable of marketing himself or herself. Most singers perform on stage in front of crowds willing to witness a great show. So, if you can dance, it is even better.

The income a singer gets is maybe the best music business salary. We’ve all heard how much celebrities make, but a mid-level singer starts from an average of $62,873 per year (23).

Median Salary: $62,873 per year
Higher-end Salary: $500,000+ per year
Education: None
Training or Experience: Constant practice
Expected Growth: 7%

24. Film & Video Editors

Among the music career jobs that don’t require performing but may earn you a terrific income,  is the film and video editing activity. 

All those interesting video clips or movies require a technician capable to deliver a high-quality video or film. The editor will watch the shooting tracks, will study the scripts, and will add sounds to create a wonderful story.

Many video editors have bachelor’s degrees that certify their expertise in working with expensive editing equipment.

This is one of the music career jobs that brings an average income of $87,300 per year, one of the best-paid music jobs (24).

Median Salary: $87,300 per year
Higher-end Salary: $168,320 per year
Education: Bachelor’s degree
Training or Experience: Training on the newest equipment
Expected Growth: 18%

25. Audio and Video Technician

When thinking of a complete stage show or an exhausting recording session, it is important to keep in mind that none of these would be possible without the audio and video technicians.

These technicians are responsible for setting up and operating the audio and video equipment. Microphones, wires, speakers, and many more are part of the audio technicians’ gear.

Although an audio technician does not require a college diploma, he or she surely needs continuous training. Technology constantly improves, and so must the technician’s skills.

The average annual income for a video and audio technician is $42,550 per year but it can go up to $90,000 (25).

Median Salary: $42,550 per year
Higher-end Salary: $90,000 per year
Education: Associate degree in Broadcasting technology or related fields
Training or Experience: Training on the newest equipment
Expected Growth: 13%

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