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music-hatWhile we took the time to look at all the costs associated with buying, renting, and learning a musical instrument, it is important to remember that music can provide financial returns next to its role as a hobby. Be it through the pursuit of a full career in music, or instead a lucrative hobby, there are certainly options available for musicians to make contract-based income through their talents. In this article, we’ll dive in to a few of the more traditional sources of income for musicians, and how it is that a musician of any level can access them.

The most obvious way for a musician to earn an income through their trade is by playing concerts and selling recordings. Since most artists will never actually see major distribution agreements in their lifetime, it is important to recognize how it is that these products will generally be produced and distributed independently at the concert itself. What I personally find most interesting about this model is the way in which the economies of scale actually most favor the production of an independent CD, because the revenues do not get eaten up by distribution costs. In general, a no-name band will earn between $100 and $7,500 per show played.

That being said, these numbers need to be taken into perspective. Venues will not usually pay the band itself, and will instead allow them to charge cover for ticket sales, meaning that the band itself must promote the sale of their own tickets. This sort of agreement adds a great deal of risk to the equation, because it places the musicians in a position where they need to take on the role of a marketer (one which they are not likely trained for).

From there, they might expect to sell 1 recording for every 40 people that attend the show. This means that they need to be particularly aggressive in promoting their live shows, so as to get the foot traffic to their show. Read the rest of this entry »

music-moneyOur life’s passions are what define us as people. They sculpt our personalities and friends by guiding our interests, and give us a venue for expressing ourselves in the midst of an always stressful modern lifestyle. Personally, I pursue music as my passion. I’ve played over five different instruments in my lifetime, and have made some of my greatest personal connections through music.

That being said, I have always pursued it as a side hobby, and never really thought about my musical hobby as a financial investment. In the interest of further demonstrating to the world the value of maintaining a balanced lifestyle, I look forward to using the next two articles to discuss the time and economic value that lies in the pursuit of learning a musical instrument.

The first cost of music is a fixed one. Before we can begin practicing, we need to obtain an instrument. This can range from an expensive instrument such as a piano (which costs as much as $500,000), to a cheaper instrument such as a guitar (which can be purchased for as little as $100). Common band instruments such as the saxophone and trumpet then range from between $300-3000, depending on the quality of instrument purchased.

That being said, rental options have become widely available over the years. For example, an entry-level piano can be rented for as little as $60/month ($720/year). Alternatively, a guitar can be rented for as little as $10/month, and a trumpet can be rented for $32.

In general, these rental rates break even after a period of 1-3 years, meaning that a renter is able to try out an instrument for as long as three years before they have a financial incentive to actually purchase the instrument at all. What’s more, many larger music stores will offer a rent-to-own program, meaning that the renter has the option to purchase out the remaining value of an instrument if they carry it for a period of time. This means that we have all the financial incentive in the world to try out different instruments and styles of music before we commit to pursuing a specific one. Read the rest of this entry »