Flying from New York to Los Angeles?
By the time you touchdown at LAX, Taylor Swift would have already made your annual income if you were an average musician – with a few thousand to spare.
A new study by MIDINation highlights the stark difference in the earnings of top musicians vs average folks. We already know that music is a winner-takes-all industry, but the sheer magnitude of the difference places things in new light.
For the study, MIDINation focused on five professions covering everything from the average (truck drivers) to the handsomely rewarded (software developers). For good measure, it also included musicians and singers.
Here are their average annual salaries, as per the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
The study used revenue data from Forbes to make a list of the world’s 30 highest-grossing musician acts. These artists made at least $39 million and as much as $118 million. The total gross of all 30 artists on the list was $1.87 billion.
As expected, pop stars and long-established rock acts – The Eagles, U2, Metallica etc. – dominated the list. But two EDM artists – Calvin Harris ($48M) and The Chainsmokers ($43.5M) – managed to find a spot as well.
This is a remarkable achievement for a new genre and a testament to the popularity of electronic dance music. Calvin Harris even maintained the same income as last year, thanks to lucrative Vegas gigs. He and The Chainsmokers have the rare ability in dance music to get big streaming numbers and song sales. It helps they do big crossover pop records. Harris beat stars as huge as Elton John and Paul McCartney this year.
With this data, the study calculated the amount of time it would take for these top-grossing acts to make average salaries.
The figures are surprising:
- U2, the highest grossing act of 2018, made the average annual minimum wage in 67 minutes – less a typical workout.
- Calvin Harris, the world’s best-paid DJ, took under 19 hours to gross more than a software developer’s annual income.
- Flying from London to New York takes about 8 hours and 15 minutes. In that time, Beyonce would make an average musician’s annual income. Ed Sheeran would do even better – he’d make a software developer’s yearly wages.
- The Rolling Stones, a perennial presence on these lists, still made $39 million despite sporadic touring. That’s good enough to make a nurse’s salary in under two work days (16 hours), and a musician’s income in a little over 12 hours.
- The longest non-stop flight in the world, from Singapore to Newark, NJ, takes 19 hours. That’s enough time for The Chainsmokers to make nearly twice the income of an average musician.
You can see the entire comparison in the infographic below.
It’s no secret that the world’s top musicians hog the financial rewards at the top of the music industry’s food chain. But seeing these figures in context of average salaries is illuminating.
How quickly did these stars make your salary?