This financial case study shows the income and expenses from a full-time Background Vocalist who performs regularly as a background singer on network TV, live on tour, and on recordings. She also writes songs and performs and records her own music as a solo artist, and produces records for herself and others.
This artist is part of the regular “music crew” – as a background vocalist – on a live network television program with a house band, appearing on 34 episodes over four seasons. She also tours regularly as a background vocalist for several different featured artists, with performances at concert halls, theaters, opera houses, resorts, and festivals. She has also performed on over 50 recordings as a background vocalist for more than 30 different artists.
This case study gives us a glimpse at the world of a background singer who is both paid for her original work, and is also the recipient of “mailbox” money, or residuals from TV and film appearances and royalties from studio recordings. It also underscores the importance of unions in negotiating fees and administering TV/film residuals and recording royalties.
At first look, musicians and composers seem like a disorganized bunch. On an individual level, there are no qualifying exams or prerequisites that certify a musician’s level of “professionalism”. On a group level, there is no one organization that represents their collective interests. But scratch below the surface, and different structures become immediately apparent. In addition to record labels, booking agents, managers and other teammates on which musicians rely, musicians and songwriters can align with a vast array of music-related organizations that serve a number of purposes.
As musicians ourselves, we have a sense that membership in these organizations matters, but in what ways? Do musicians that belong to certain organizations participate in more revenue streams? Do they make more money because of these allegiances? Or is the inverse true; do particular types of work make it possible and/or necessary for musicians to join certain organizations? This data memo outlines the general benefits of membership in music-related organizations, then examines the qualitative and quantitative data related to organizational membership and revenue.