Do Band Members Get Paid Equally? - intro image - crowd standing around a msuci stage with a great light show

Do Band Members Get Paid Equally?

When you look at big names like Ozzy Osborne and Gene Simmons, their net worth has exploded. Compared to other contributors, they get the lion’s share. But what about bands in different situations? Do band members get paid equally? 

Musicians and bands can generate a large income from tours, merchandise, album sales, and live performances. This income will be divided up between each member of the band. It is not always an equal share for each member. 

Below we will look at how musicians make money and how that money is divided.

How Do Bands Split Money?

In most cases, the money each band member gets is not an equal share. Each band may divide the revenue in different ways. But the most recognizable musicians typically take the biggest chunk.

Who Makes the Most Money in a Band?

On average, the lead singer makes the most money within the band. They are the most recognizable members of the band and often control the music and direction of the band.

Singers are the lead songwriter. This would give them the most input over the band’s creative direction. The lead singer usually gathers the most attention and draws power for the band. 

The lead guitar players usually hold a close second and might make more depending on their pull. The more talent a guitarist brings, the more money they can make. This is especially true if the guitarists have contributed heavily to the band’s creative direction.

This leaves bassists and drummers with the remaining chunk. Very talented drummers might pull another huge chunk. But the stereotype of bass players means that few get big chunks from their earnings.

Do Any Bands Split Revenue Evenly?

Slipknot is one of the better-known metal bands that split revenue evenly. The lead singer Corey Taylor was quoted in 2019 saying that each band member is paid equally.

He went on to say that they are all working towards the same thing and should all take care of each other and get paid the same amount. He says they are all trying to make the best music possible and still need to take care of each other to do that.

Here’s a list of other bands known for even revenue splits:

  • Coldplay
  • The Doors
  • Radiohead
  • REM

Should Bands Split Revenue Evenly?

The pay-split debate is a touchy subject for all musicians. After all, everyone needs money, so the more they can get, the more they can support their continued music career.

There is a strong focus on bands putting the most money into who makes the most contributions. Naturally, this goes back to the musicians that contribute the most to the band’s creative vision. Guitarists and songwriters naturally fit these roles, as one will write the music while others make the main riffs.

But Corey Taylor’s perspective (and Slipknot’s success) brings us to an interesting perspective: if you take care of your musicians, they take care of you. Paying people equally and fairly can boost morale, leading to massive success.

How Do Bands Split Money?

Generally speaking, bands should split money proportionally too much much they contribute. This changes depending on their music contracts, which change depending on what they are doing.

Before conducting any new money-making activity, you should consult a music lawyer. Drafting a contract and discussing the terms beforehand sets up the right expectations.

When it comes to bands making money on tour, even splits are more likely to occur. But, if you have temporary musicians, they will likely take a smaller chunk.

Things get tricky when you consider studio albums.

How Do Musicians Split Royalties?

When including studio albums, songwriters and lead singers take the biggest chunk. This is because they write the songs and get credit when royalties are paid out.

The creation of a studio album also includes hiring a music producer. Their cut typically goes as high as 30%, a hefty chunk out of album sales. That chunk is divided further if you work with a record label.

What if you Collaborate with Other Musicians?

When it comes to multiple bands and musicians, you need an intra-band agreement. This is a specific contract directing the split between the two bands. Like other musical pursuits, the cut depends on who offers the biggest pull.

Established bands, as a result, get the biggest chunk of whatever profits. Smaller bands often see more exposure as a result. But, as they say, you can’t feed your family with exposure in the world of freelance artists.

Bands get their most money when on tour because of these massive splits. Album releases and collaborations feel more like the announcement of an upcoming tour.

Below, you’ll find out more about how much bands typically make, giving you more details on how these splits work.

How Much Does the Average Band Make? 

It isn’t easy to place the salary of each band because of the many income stream variables involved in the deal. The amount of money each band can generate for each source will vary greatly. One band may make most of their money playing shows and selling out arenas, while others may sell their albums more.   

How Much Can a Band Make While Touring?

Bands will make the most money from a tour through the sales of each ticket. The ticket sales are guaranteed fees they will earn for each show they play. They will keep about 74% of all the ticket sales for each event. Depending on the contracts, it could balloon as high as 90% for some artists and bands. 

Most bands receive a percentage of the total revenue generated by their concerts and merchandise sales. This can range between 10% and 20%. In addition to this revenue, they may also receive a per diem., or a daily allowance to cover their expenses. The per diem usually ranges between $100 and $200 per day.

Band members will also receive a royalty on the sale of their music. These are paid by the number of albums and singles that are sold. 

The opening act in a tour will make between $500 and $1,500 for venues that hold up to 1,000 people. Bands on larger tours earn between $50,000 and $100,000 per show. 

How Much Can a Band Make on Streaming Services?

Spotify pays the artist between $0.001 and $0.008 per stream of their music. Streaming a song over one million times will make between $1,000 and $8,000. The average income is $0.004 netting the artist $4,000 per one million views. 

It can depend on the listener also. Listeners with Spotify accounts generate more income for an artist than listeners that do not have a subscription and listen on a free account. The current user subscription cost in the US is 9.99 per month. 

How Much Can Smaller Bands or Musicians Make?

Buskers, the musicians that perform on the streets, can earn $50 to $100 per day or even higher.

Session musicians can earn between $100 and $2,500 daily, depending on skill level and ability.

The performances of a big band can earn between $7,500 and $9,000 a night. 

What’re the Average Earnings for a Rock Musician?

The average rock singer’s salary is between $64,000 and $90,000 annually.

The average salary for a band member is only $35,000 per year. This typically includes long hours of work. They can spend most of the day rehearsing and performing at night. Touring will require extensive travel to appear at various shows and events.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, this will put the average hourly rate of musicians and singers at $30.49 an hour.  

How Much Do Independent Musicians Make?

Independent musicians continue to grow in popularity each year. Independent artists between 18 and 29 in all genres made an average of $18,400 yearly from their musical income.

The average earnings from non-musician occupations were $11,800. That would put their total revenue at $30,200 a year. Only 33% of independent musicians consider themselves full-time musicians. 

They will also incur typical expenses, including equipment, merchandising, and publicity. This can bring their total yearly income to about $12,000 after covering music taxes and costs. 


Successful bands can generate a lot of income from many different sources. That income can be divided up between each band member in any way. In some bands, it is an equal divide. They may choose to split all their income equally since they are all working toward the same goal. That is not always the case with every band.  

If the income is not divided equally, the lead singers are usually the top earners of the band since they typically write the majority of the music. They are the face of the band and usually guide the band’s direction musically. 

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