Research Outline

Costs for Music Artists


To find all cost centers and average costs for an independent artist to be successful.

Early Findings

  • According to one source, costs break down into twelve categories: recording fees, graphic artist/cover artist fees, CD/vinyl manufacturing costs, publicity/promotional materials costs, office expenses, taxes, bank equipment costs, songwriting, business team costs, transportation costs, touring expenses, merchandising and miscellaneous.
  • Some things are investments, such as CD manufacturing costs or merchandising costs. Other elements are paying other professionals, such as graphic/cover artist fees, road manager salary, bookkeeper/accountant salary, publicist fees, booking agent fees or studio producer fees.
  • Some organizational level costs are taxes (state, federal), insurance and union dues.
  • Another article lists almost 80 different costs that could be incurred in the business.
  • While specific to touring, the Royalty Exchange gives some ballpark estimates for expense levels. Assuming a smaller, independent artist operates at the "basic" level, this means they might see $0-5,000 in production costs, $3,100-6,200 in accommodation expenses, $3,500-5,000 in transportation expenses, $1,860-3,000 in insurance expenses, $7,500-20,000 in crew salaries/per diems, $500-3,500 in merchandise costs, $250-2,500 in promotion/marketing and $500-5,000 in third-party and commission payments. This means a month-long tour would cost $17,210-50,200 for a "basic" (e.g., "budget) level of touring.
  • A "practical" budget for recording one basic-level studio album is $10,000 and 2 weeks. This does not include "soft" costs like producer fees, wasted time tinkering around and any "luxury" living expenses.