From an outsider's perspective, the music industry can seem like a glamorous place to work. You make tons of money headlining shows, selling records, and getting platinum plaques. Unfortunately, that scenario only occurs with a select few lucky individuals, while the majority of musicians struggle to make ends meet.
In a new study conducted by Inaugural Music Research Association (MIRA) and the Princeton University research center, an estimated 61% of musicians surveyed across the U.S stated that their music-related income is unable to meet their current living expenses. The average musician reported earning about $35,000 total in 2017 from numerous revenues, including music. When breaking down the numbers, 81% said that they earned money from live events, which made up a total of 42% of their music-related earnings. From that respect, if one wanted to keep their head above water, they needed to tour. On the other end of the spectrum, 25% said they earned their keep from composing, merchandise sales, session work, and streaming services, but this totaled less than 5% of their income.
In addition to showcasing the discouraging revenue numbers, the study also highlighted other prevalent issues that affected working musicians in the past year. 72% of women working in the industry reported being victims of discrimination, and another 67% said they had been sexually harassed. To top it off, 63% of non-white musicians also reported facing racial discrimination.
Mental health was also another subject reported on in the study. Half of the musicians surveyed reported “feeling down, depressed, or hopeless at least several days over the past two weeks.” Musicians were also reported to be more likely to fall under substance abuse issues, and are five times more likely to use cocaine, 6.5 times more likely to use ecstasy, and 13.5 times more likely to have used LSD in the past month.
The full survey can be found here.