Throughout the mid-1990s and the early part of the 21st century, hip-hop music earned billions of dollars in revenues, in part, because of the talents and popularity of artists and producers such as Eminem, whose bestselling "Slim Shady" album was produced by Dr. Dre, and the late Notorious BIG's "Ready to Die" album produced by Sean Combs. Despite declining revenues in hip-hop as of 2011, hip-hop music producers continue to be a valued commodity and hit-making producers still earn high salaries.
The average salary for a music producer is approximately $45,000 annually, according to an article for Free-Loops.com. Music producer Meghan Gohil, in a 2007 article for PayScale, states the average salary for a music producer ranges between $20,000 and $1 million. Hip-hop producer "Noisette John St. Jean" states that the average annual salary for a hip-hop producer depends on the number of tracks (beats) made and the number of recordings produced. For beats, he recommends that a new producer receive the Recording Industry Association of America rate of $1,500.
Hip-hop producers, much like other music producers, are paid in a variety of ways that include advances, production fees and royalties from album sales. Generally, before performing services, these producers will ask for an advance, particularly those with a track record or those producing artists with record deals. A typical advance is 10 percent of a producer's salary (e.g., $500 for a producer that charges $5,000). Additionally, producers may earn as much as three points toward album sales, or 3 percent of an album's sales. It is also customary for producers to charge per beat, as noted by "Noisette John St. Jean." Top hip-hop producers such as Scott Storch may earn as much as $100,000 per beat.
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Hip Hop's Richest
Among hip-hop's richest according to the Panache Report's 2007 rankings includes two producers, Jay Z and Sean Combs. Jay Z earned $3 million of his over-$500-million earnings as a producer and executive for Def Jam Records. Jay Z has served as producer on several of his albums, including "The Black Album" and "The Blueprint." Similarly, Sean Combs earned a significant amount of his $358-million earnings as a producer and executive for Bad Boy Records. Both men continue to be among hip-hop music's richest as of 2011.
Producer Kanye West, known for such work as "The College Dropout," earned $16 million in 2010 and 2011, while another top hip-hop producer, Swizz Beats, who has worked with Beyonce, Jay Z and Lil Wayne, had earnings of $17 million as of 2008. As of 2010, producers Timbaland and Pharell Williams earned $14 and $13 million after their work with both hip-hop and pop artists such as Nelly and Shakira.