Music Economics

How Do Americans Spend Money On Music?

by Sophie Harris

When you picture yourself spending money on music, what do you think of?

Ten years ago you probably would have thought of buying a CD to play in your car. Now, did you think of buying a song on iTunes? Maybe a subscription to SiriusXM, Spotify, or Apple Music? Or what about scoring good seats to see your favorite band in concert?

Making 50 Cents of Every Dollar

While you may think it’s more common to spend more money on iTunes, it turns out that in 2015, more than half of every dollar spent on music was spent on live events, which includes concerts, music festivals, performances in small venues, and DJ events – while one third of every dollar goes to concerts specifically.

Infographic courtesy of Nielsen Music 360

It Adds Up

Since I am a concert photographer, I’ve been to my fair share of concerts in the past couple years. Something I’ve started thinking about is how much money goes toward huge concert tours.

For instance, tickets ranged from $25 lawn seats to $195 VIP packages for 5 Seconds of Summer‘s tour in 2016. They played over 100 shows on the tour and many of them sold out. Most of the venues they played held 15,000-20,000 people, and there were at least 500 VIP packages per show.

If you do the math, that’s about $100,000 per show of just VIP packages. That doesn’t include the majority of the tickets or any of the popular merchandise that was sold.

Where Does All The Money Go?

There’s a reason why half of every dollar spent on music goes to live music, and it’s not just artists being greedy. In fact, sometimes the artists have little control over their prices.

If you were to go on a road trip throughout the whole country with buses full of people, imagine everything you would need. Hotels, bus drivers, food, LOTS of gas, just to name a few.

But if you go on a road trip and you’re not a world-famous musician, you’re probably not thinking of huge booking fees or elaborate staging and lighting equipment (and the crew members who put them together – who work hard and deserve fair pay).

Is Live Music Important?

With all the recent budget cuts on the arts and other creative programs, it is important that music still plays a prominent role in our economy.

With the fall of physical albums and the rise of streaming sites and illegal downloading (which I will cover in the next post), live music is the key to keeping music alive in our economy.


Aimee Cliff of The Fader

Paul Resnikoff of Digital Music News

Jacob Ganz of NPR Music News


John Vivian: The Media of Mass Communication

Cover photo courtesy of Sophie Harris Music Photography


4 thoughts on “How Do Americans Spend Money On Music?

  1. This was a great post! I think you did a great job of providing accurate hyperlinks as well as summarize the important information. My one suggestion would be to have more pictures/infographics to provide the audience with more information/ a picture method of seeing the statistics. Good job!


  2. Hey Sophie! I loved the infographic and the personal connection to the subject. The only recommendation I would have is shorter phrases to hyperlink and maybe some more concise sentences. But still, I thought it was engaging, informative, and a fun read!


  3. I thought your subheading were incredibly helpful and assists in keeping readers engaged! I think you had a lot of credible sources to help back up your claims and provided good, concise information for the readers!


  4. I really enjoyed this post. I loved the use of your personal experience, it helped tie your post together! I also really appreciated how your information was clear and you reinforced it with the use of graphs and visuals!


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