How Much Money Do Musicians Make? The Answer Might Surprise You

23 June 2015, 10:59 | Updated: 8 May 2017, 17:09

Taylor Swift
Nicky Idika

By Nicky Idika

Billboard magazine followed the money...

The topic of artist royalties and payments has been a weirdly hot-button issue as of late. Artists earnings have traditionally been a murky area, in terms of knowing exactly who earned what. But, with Taylor Swift speaking out vocally against so-called exploitative streaming services, the issue has risen to the foreground of collective music consciousness. 

Billboard has created a handy chart to tell us where the money comes from and where it goes and you'll be surprised to know that the figures aren't quite cut and dry. For instance, most people tend to believe that artist money comes from album sales when, in fact, money comes from all sorts of places for artists.

Billboard reckons that a developing artist (think Tinashe, Meghan Trainor etc) still doesn't earn as much starting out as many "big" Youtube music stars. Taylor Swift, whose outspoken views have made streaming a more talked about issue, would probably fall into the "superstar" category, raking in an astonishing 14-70 million annually. 

Taylor did mention that she was speaking up for smaller artists who, according to this chart, probably earn very little outside of album sales. 


Other than actual album sales, Billboard highlights a bevy of avenues that artists probably make huge bank. Clothing lines can score them $2-3 million + royalties while soundtracks could see them earn anything from 5k to $1 million. 

So, while Taylor is right about artists getting paid for their time and hard work, mid-level artists are probably getting paid more than you think. Like, way more.