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Making a Living as a Musician

The Ontario Media Development Corporation released a report last May on the Economic Impact of Canada’s Music Industry. You can download the report here.

Over the years I have met many talented musicians who believe that they can somehow reach the superstar level or, at the very least, make a living playing music. Sadly, that is a dream that very, very few ever realize.

The average Canadian artist earns $16,500 per year. Obviously challenging to support a family on that level of income.

I do know a number of outstanding players who manage to work full-time as musicians. Most supplement their income with a day job or they take on students.

The music industry remains a very tough business.

As the research noted:

Live performances represent the single most important source of income for musicians in the sample, accounting for 48.5 percent of the average $24,837 of total revenues earned by Canadian musicians. On average, Canadian musicians incurred $8,346 of expenses, a quarter of which ($2,112) was due to transportation costs and a further 17.8 percent ($1,486) accounted for instrument purchases.

For the average musician in the sample, their music career is a part-time vocation, consuming 27.8 hours in a typical week. Sixty-five percent of musicians have other jobs in which they work for pay. The annual earnings from this other employment averaged $20,758.