What kind of living will you make as a singer?

I have a student who asked me what kind of money a singer can make. It is a very tough question.It is all over the board. I will start with my life and my career, but many people do better, or not nearly as well.

When I was 12, signed to a label to record. I made nothing until the record sold and I was performing. If you write the songs you can start making a lot more. When I did concerts in the 60’s, I just may have a 100 150$ per concert. I was in high school so it didn’t matter. Any money I may have made from recording is put in a trust to protect you from your family spending it.

I think Actors Equity union scale at the time I did HAIR was at about $300 a week. I can’t remember for sure, but it was good at the time,1969–71 and I had saved $15,000 dollars in the bank by the time the show ended. If you are in a Broadway show, you can make a good living. It depends on if you are in the chorus or have a lead or co-leading part.

When I was in lounges, traveling around the country, I made about $500 a week. But everything was  an expense. The u-haul vans, the hotel, food. Later on we made $700 and $800 a week. As time went on and the economy changed. In Las Vegas we made more because of the Musicians union scales. When I was leader of Jessica and Fantasy at the Summa Corporation hotels. I made $1300 a week as leader. I hired  everyone, paid for photos, and public relations and wrote off expensive clothes.

Then I was a singer in  production shows, Hello Hollywood Hello, and Casino De Paris. I made about $1200 a week, and the dancers hated me, because as a featured singer we made more than them.

I went on to make $700 a week as a backup singer with Bobby Vinton. This was when we worked. We traveled a lot, so there were weeks off. Englebert Humperdink paid $1500 a week. He wasn’t as nice or fun as Bobby, and I would have rather stayed with Vinton for less money. I left Vinton to have my daughter and when she was born wanted to take some time off with her.

Then when my daughter was about a year old, I went back to Vegas lounges. But not as leader. I went back to about $800 a week.This was for 6 nights in a lounge.

So, as you can see, you can make it big, millions, or you can have a steady career of singing like I did. Now, I may do a corporate event, and make $800 to $1400 a night. But those are few and far between. I teach now and my prices are now $50 dollars a lesson. so I make between $100 and $250 a day. Sometimes more, sometimes less. Depending on who cancels, and who are still paying my older prices, then I’ll make slightly less.

A supper club I have worked recently pays me $175 a night plus tips. These things supplement the teaching. New Years Eve, you can make $1700 for the night. If you book a private party you can make a lot more than getting hired on. You charge so much per musician, pay then $40 dollars less and take the $40 per musician and add it to your leaders pay. The bigger the band, the better you do. After all, you booked it, met with the client, sold it, and you will provide all the sound equipment. You will be there hours ahead of time and be sure everyone shows up sober and clean. It is a big job and you earn that money.

So, whatever path life takes you, do what my dad told me to do and I didn’t listen, “Put away 10% of your check” for a rainy day. Because believe me,, there are a lot of rainy days when you are an entertainer. Good Luck!

Jessica Marciel
Las Vegas Vocal Training

Maintaining Your Vocal Health

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