Jazz Musicians and Money from Music

Posted on June 13th, 2012 by Jean Cook in What We're Learning. 4 Comments

3. Income. The mean gross estimated music income (EMI) for jazz musicians who took the Money from Music Survey was $23,300 for a non-AFM member. On average, jazz musicians made less money than classical or other musicians who took the survey. A higher percentage of jazz musician income came from live performance than in other genres.

During the survey, we asked all respondents to estimate their gross personal income for the past 12 months, from all sources – musical or otherwise. We also asked them to estimate the number of hours of their workweek they dedicated to their musical craft, and the percent of their income derived from music. Multiplying personal gross income by percent of income derived from music allowed us to calculate a gross estimated music income (EMI) for each respondent. When dividing this EMI by the estimated number of hours of their workweek dedicated to their musical craft (multiplied by 52 weeks in a year), we were able to estimate an hourly wage.

Gross music income and hourly wage. The mean gross estimated music income (EMI) for jazz musicians who took the Money from Music Survey was $30,519. Jazz musicians made less money than musicians from other genres who took our survey, whose average gross EMI was $34,445. It also follows that jazz musicians tended to earn a slightly lower estimated hourly wage than classical musicians or all other genres combined (including R&B, Country, Rock, Hip-Hop, etc).

Sources of income. Like the rest of the survey population, the highest percentage of jazz musicians’ music-related income in the past 12 months came from live performance. For jazz musicians, live performance accounted for 37% of their income, while for the general survey population, it was 28% of earnings. The chart below shows that jazz players only differed by a few percentage points in other revenue streams.

Less Common Income Streams. Of the 20 less common income streams we asked about on the Money from Music Survey, we learned that the top five of these less common income streams was the same for jazz as non-jazz, with minor differences. 5-10% of jazz survey respondents reported receiving some income in these categories in the previous year: Grants (11.2%), Producing (10%), Honoraria or Speakers Fees (10%), AFM Sound Recordings Special Payments (7.5%), AFM Secondary Markets Fund (5.6%), and Fan Funding (4.6%).

Jazz respondents were less likely than non-jazz respondents to be receiving money from AFM Sound Recording Special Payments, AFM Secondary Markets Fund, ASCAPLUS, AFM/AFTRA Payments, and persona licensing; but jazz respondents were slightly more likely than non-jazz respondents to be getting product and instrument/equipment endorsements. 

Income differences by membership. The next few charts illustrate how AFM membership affects jazz musicians’ earnings.

The mean gross estimated music income of a jazz musician not affiliated with AFM was $23,301. The mean income of an AFM-affiliated jazz musician was $37,190. In the general pool of survey takers, the mean income was $20,413 for a non-AFM musician; $48,650 for an AFM-affiliated musician.

Is AFM membership the only factor in these income differences? No. Age, location, and roles also play an influential role on an artists’ bottom line.

The chart below shows the distribution of income for AFM and non-AFM jazz musicians by age group. As noted above, we asked all survey respondents to estimate their personal gross income from all sources. This can include wages from non-music related jobs, earnings from investments, and so on. We plot out gross income and compare it to gross estimated music income (EMI) for both AFM members and non-AFM musicians.

While AFM members have a higher gross EMI than non-AFM musicians, income from all sources (non-music and music) for both groups are very similar. The distance between the solid blue line and the dotted blue line suggests that non-AFM musicians have other sources of income outside of music for most of their careers, while AFM members begin to develop another income source in their late 30s/early 40s, the age at which we see the red lines diverge on the chart above. For both groups, as music income appears to decline with age (50 and up), they rely more on their non-music income.

Earnings converted to hourly wages. As mentioned above, jazz musicians tended to earn a slightly lower estimated hourly wage than classical musicians or all other genres combined (including R&B, Country, Rock, Hip-Hop, etc) – with jazz AFM members earning an approximate $25.39/hr and non-AFM jazz musicians earning and approximate $15.90/hr. Below we see estimated hourly wage distribution by age group, with the size of the dot indicating the number of respondents in that category.

Surprisingly, given the difference in how much they earn, AFM and non-AFM jazz musicians appear to have similar sources of income throughout their careers. Below we compare jazz musician income composition by AFM and non-AFM membership through early, middle and late career stages. The differences in income composition are subtle, with all pie charts being more alike than they are different.

Revenue trends by AFM membership. We asked jazz musicians how their income has changed over the last five years. AFM members generally reported more decreases in income than increases in various categories.

Exactly how many more artists are reporting decreases than increases? The chart below illustrates the size of changes in revenue in the three most applicable key revenue streams for the jazz survey respondents: live performance, session work, and teaching. The most drastic difference is in session work, where 20% more AFM members report a decrease in this income rather than an increase. For non-AFM musicians, the greatest increase has been teaching.

The downward trend in income reported by AFM is supported when comparing average music income from “Changing the Beat” to the estimated music income from “Money from Music.” Below is the reported average income for AFM and non-AFM jazz musicians, adjusted for inflation.

This table suggests that the average music income for an AFM jazz player has decreased 15% in the last decade while non-AFM jazz musicians’ average music income has increased 15%.

Teaching has gone up for musicians across the board – AFM vs non AFM and jazz v other genres. At least 40-50% of all jazz respondents teach, and of the teachers, some take on multiple teaching roles.

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4 responses to “Jazz Musicians and Money from Music”

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