NOT ALL ABOUT THE MONEY?

I was wondering what is the pay like if you were one of the top musicians in the world?
I m sure guys like Weckl, Gadd, etc must get paid well?
 

Jeremy Bender

Platinum Member
While it's an interesting question, I think it begs clarification. Do you mean the best musically or the best commercially. In other words are you looking for the the average annual incomes of our drum hero's or of drummers who are in a very popular band?

If you get any figures thrown at you, I would ask for verification or sources named ( for proof of accuracy).
 

caddywumpus

Platinum Member
If you're a "top musician", I'm sure you have the benefits of finding/creating work situations easier, and have the luxury of negotiating a higher wage.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
While it's an interesting question, I think it begs clarification. Do you mean the best musically or the best commercially. In other words are you looking for the the average annual incomes of our drum hero's or of drummers who are in a very popular band?.
^ This.

The drummers who are rich are the ones who are in very popular bands.
Charlie Watts, Joey Krammer, Ringo.

Then there are guys like Mick Fleetwood who made millions, but spend millions and almost went bankrupt.

Someone like Weckl, he probably does alright for himself, but he's never played a record that sold a several million copies. Most of his work is as a sideman, getting paid a flat rate. I doubt he is as rich and the OP thinks.

As for musicians in general, hang out in Hollywood for a while. You'll be amazed at the guys who once sold a million records who now live in small apartments, just getting by.

The key to making money is being a song writer.

Carmine Appice does well, not because he was the drummer for top bands, but because he co-wrote tow of Rod Steward's biggest hits.

Others do well because they have a business on the side, or they invested well.

Duff Mckagan, the bass player from Guns and Roses and Velvet Revolver has written a series of articles about how after be became a famous rock star, he went back to school and got a business degree because he realized he couldn't read his royalty statements, and he didn't want to end up broke.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Type of earnings must also come into it, I suppose.
That is another one.

In the Keith Moon biography, there is a section about how Keith complained John Bonham always had more money than he did.

The difference was earlier in their careers The Who signed contracts that gave their managers and record company larger than usual percentage of the The Who's income. As a result, The Who got next to nothing from their album sales, and relied on live gigs to make money.

Led Zeppelin signed contracts that gave their managers only a small cut.

John simply earned more money per album sale and stadium gig, than Keith did.

And of course, Keith spend his money as quickly as he earned it, while John didn't.
 

Drumolator

Platinum Member
Steve Gadd has been playing with Eric Clapton for several years. I am sure that Clapton pays him well. Is he getting what he is worth? Probably not. Peace and goodwill.
 

inneedofgrace

Platinum Member
I always wondered if musicians only make money from album or concert ticket sales, or do they also get money for recording? Certainly if bands bring in studio musicians, then they get paid separately.

I imagine contracts vary far and wide as to how the band members get paid based on album sales. I assume they also get money up front when they are signed to a record deal.

Zeppelin's manager was one of the shrudest in the business.
 

Mighty_Joker

Silver Member
My drum school held two clinics in 2009, one with Thomas Lang, one with Jojo Mayer. Each came on separate days and did two sessions, a morning and an afternoon, with around 20 students attending each session.

Jojo and Thomas got paid £2,500 each for their day's work. That should give you some idea.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
I always wondered if musicians only make money from album or concert ticket sales, or do they also get money for recording? Certainly if bands bring in studio musicians, then they get paid separately.

I imagine contracts vary far and wide as to how the band members get paid based on album sales. I assume they also get money up front when they are signed to a record deal.

Zeppelin's manager was one of the shrudest in the business.
A couple of books to read:

From the book "Bumping into Genius" by Danny Goldberg (who headed three different record lable, once managed Nirvana and Steve Nicks, and got his start doing PR for Led Zepplin).

Page 47-48
"So in the mid-eighties, when CD's sold for $10, a new artist who got a 12 percent royatly would be credited with around $.60 per sale. Foreign sales in those days paid at a 50 percent of the US rate. By the late ninties, the international rate to US ratio was much higher.

So if a 12 percent artist got $50,000 to sign, and spent $275,000 to record, and sold one million copies in the US, and one million outside the US, they would have a gross royalty rate of $900,000. Record producers...typical got 3 percent, which in this example would be worth $225,000. After deduction of of the advance and recording costs, that would leave $350,000 in artists royalties paid to the band. Assuming a 4 member group, who paid a manager, lawyers, and a business manager a total of 25 percent, this would mean around $72,000 per member"
So a band sells 2 million copies, and nets roughly $72,000 for guy. And this is using 1980's numbers. Royalty rates were as low as 3% in the 60's to 14 to 20% in more modern times.

The real money is in publishing rights to the songs. ASCAP and BMI collect from the record companies, radio stations, TV, song books, and anywhere the songs are played and pays that to the song writer (or who ever owns the rights to the publishing).

Per the same book, the song writer(s) of the above album would make roughly another one million in publishing fees from the sale of the album, and then what ever from radio, music books, etc.

Another good read is "Hit Men: Power Brokers and Fast Money Inside the Music Business" by Fredric Dannen, where you'll read how many other costs are charged against that royalty rate, giving the people who play on the albums even less money than the above scenario.
 

GruntersDad

Administrator - Mayor
Staff member
My drum school held two clinics in 2009, one with Thomas Lang, one with Jojo Mayer. Each came on separate days and did two sessions, a morning and an afternoon, with around 20 students attending each session.

Jojo and Thomas got paid £2,500 each for their day's work. That should give you some idea.

Which probably paid their air fare and hotel costs..
 

fixxxer

Senior Member
Neil Peart said (either in an interview or one of his books) that they used to make money off of album sales. He stated that things have changed so much since the "old days" with music being downloaded and more easily shared, that Rush makes their money now off of concerts and merchandise. Especially- merchandise.
He never mentioned how much, but it would be interesting to know.
 

DrumEatDrum

Platinum Member
Neil Peart said (either in an interview or one of his books) that they used to make money off of album sales. He stated that things have changed so much since the "old days" with music being downloaded and more easily shared, that Rush makes their money now off of concerts and merchandise. Especially- merchandise.
He never mentioned how much, but it would be interesting to know.
Funny thing:

Read Neil's books, then read Joey Krammer's book.

Neil comes off a guy who's made a pretty good living. He has two modest houses, a nice car, and gets himself a nice motorcycle now and then. But in Ghost Rider, he talks about being worried about running out of money in the long run. In Roadshow, he mentions how he spends less of his money on tour then Geddy and Alex, and keeps in mind of not going overboard, even with his own bus, body guard, and motorcycles that he travel with.

Then you read Joey Krammer's books, (and keep mind Aerosmith has sold roughly 3 or 4 times more albums than Rush), and Krammer goes through luxury sports cars like water. he has a huge mansion. And this is on top of blowing most of his money on booze and drugs.

Night and day difference between a band that has sold some 35-40 million records and a band that has well over 150 million in sales.
 

Skwerly

Senior Member
I have always wondered the same. While I'm sure it changes from band to band, there is surely some industry standard.

For instance, take Motely Crue in the 80s or early 90s, playing a big venue like the Forum (no longer around, but you get the idea). 10k a man? 100k for the band which would mean 25k a man? I really don't know, but it is surely a lot. I've tried to find info on it before but it's hard to come by.

I know Stephen King makes roughly 85 mil a year (!!) from books, movies and royalties from all of it. Not bad. Not bad at all.
 

tamadrm

Platinum Member
There are a couple of pro's on this forum who may chime in but I think its fair to say if your're touring with a name act ,50-60K.Sleeping on a buss a lot and eating catered food.If that sounds romantic then go for it.But remember ...there are literally a thousand guys who are better and hungrier than you .Not to mention health insurance and pension,Yeah I know ,you'll never get sick and you're going to live forever .A hard lfie for most.Stay in school.
Steve B
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I was wondering what is the pay like if you were one of the top musicians in the world?
I m sure guys like Weckl, Gadd, etc must get paid well?
Allow me to quote some random numbers from when I was in the Musicians Union here in Orange County, CA. These numbers will be about 15 years later, but I don't think they've changed all that much. Actually, you cold do a search for Musician Union rates and see what the going rate is too.

When I was a sideman, the rate was $155 per day (per the contract they had with Disneyland). I believe the small band leaders made $185 a day, and it would go up from there. After taxes for me meant I was making about $120 a day (15 years ago).

Obviously, I think the stars may be getting paid more because of the demand, and there are different rates for what you do (studio rate for a national tv commercial, or a movie, for example) but for standard Union rates, if we're all professionals in the union, it shouldn't be different from drummer-to-drummer because that's what the Union does for you: it keeps everyone equal, and attempts to spread the wealth around to everybody. Other musicians get paid a double rate if they play another instrument, so if that guitar player is also asked to play banjo, I think that qualifies..

Now, the union also has a medical benefits plan, but you must maintain working as a musician so many hours per quarter to qualify for the plan. So there's money you have to deduct from your pay that goes to the union to cover that part. Anything after all the bills would be considered profit, right?

It doesn't sound like much (it didn't sound like much to me back then, either) but the rates are designed so you can at least work and take care of family and attempt to live a somewhat normal life (provided you're good enough to get the work in the first place). Depending on demand, you could get over-paid if you were on a very popular tour, but then you have to deal with times when there's no work to be had.

After a while, I saw that working full time as an audio engineer probably netted me the same amount of pay were I a musician with the park. Of course, audio engineer with Disney is just about as precarious as musician but the work's alot steadier and this union is alot stronger.

That's how it was on my end.
 

Paul Quin

Pioneer Member
I think it very unlikely that many pros around here will comment on money - as someone who has negotiated some of those contracts for several folks around here I won't give specifics either. In general, however, I will say that the way to get "rock star" rich is to be a songwriter in a multi-platinum selling successful band. If you are lucky enough to be in a band with someone like Steve Lukather, who believes that songwriting credit goes to those in the room at the time of recording then count your blessings.

Many session guys have a comfortable life but are far from rich and many struggle between gigs. Yes - even some of those folks on these pages! For recording work, unless you are doing union session work (which depends upon your location among other things), it is most likely that you will be paid per song or per session and those rates range from $100 to the very few who might be able to get $2,000. Even then, that work is no longer every day - and often not every week. The high paying tours have also seen a decline in wages. On those tours you are usually paid as an independent contractor and so there is no health insurance, 401k or other benefits that normally accompany a job. Usually when on a major tour all your reasonable expenses are paid (travel, food lodging) and you receive a per diem. There may be other perks too! When the tour stops - for many - so do the paychecks. That is why you might see a name guy hitting the stadium circuit for six months and then two weeks after the end of the tour playing at a wedding. Guys do clinics and personal appearnaces in the down time to keep an income (please note - not suggesting at all that clinics and PA's are not a good thing and not enjoyed by said drummer!)

It is a hard life - not for greedy and not for the faint hearted. These folks do, however, get to play the drums, express themselves as musicians and artists and often pay their mortgage. That ain't too shabby!

Paul
 

inneedofgrace

Platinum Member
Many of the top name drummers (and other musicians) also have instructional videos, which can't cost too much to produce. However, I don't know how many they typically sell.

I also always wondered how much a musician makes when their song is covered by another band. Some bands have their songs covered many times over by other bands and for TV commercials. I don't know how the royalty system works, or whether it is standardized in any way.

A friend of one of my bandmembers is a guitarist who plays professionally out in Vegas. He played one song for the Latin Grammys and I believe he got paid $1600. But I doubt that is typical.
 

Pocket-full-of-gold

Platinum Member
Many of the top name drummers (and other musicians) also have instructional videos, which can't cost too much to produce.
I'm yet to hear of any professional production that comes cheaply. It's a hell of a lot more involved than just turning on a handy cam and doing paradiddles mate. Check the trials and tribulations that Pat Petrillo went through just to get his last dvd out there. I'll wager he'd put up a pretty good argument that production costs are not cheap at all.
 
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