Case Study: Background Vocalist
The ARS project includes a series of anonymous financial case studies. These case studies are based on the real finances from real artists, anonymized to protect their privacy.
TV Background Performer
Film Background Performer
Live Background Performing Artist
Background Recording Artist
1997 – present
TIME AND INCOME ON MUSIC
This case study is a breakdown of 2009-2010 income from a Background Vocalist who performs as a background singer on network TV, live on tour, and on recordings.
This case study looks at the world of session musicians through the finances of one Background Vocalist.
When looking at the Background Vocalist’s income, we see that a considerable portion of it depends upon “mailbox” money, or residuals from TV and film appearances and royalties from studio recordings.
Unlike featured artists who are responsible for their own often substantial touring costs, this background vocalist doesn’t have many expenses since her touring costs are paid by the featured artists she backs.
There are many ways for a background vocalist to earn money from television work, but the income isn’t steady or predictable.
Unions’ ability to negotiate and administer TV/film residuals and recording royalties plays a key role in sustaining the background vocalist’s career.
The PDF/printable version of the Background Vocalist case study is downloadable below.