How much are audio producers making?
Results from an anonymous salary sharing project
Examining (and fighting) the gender and race wage gap has been a pet project of mine for a couple of years now, and as a journalist I’ve generally had a good idea of what salaries are standard for the industry (thanks in large part to Julia Haslanger’s work).
When I began pivoting my career to audio and podcast production, I realized that that radical transparency didn’t translate to every corner of the business. Most of the companies I was interested in were either so new that they didn’t have Glassdoor profiles, or they were audio production teams housed within larger media organization — so none of the numbers were standardized.
I created a survey on Google Forms and shared it with my networks; the Public Radio NYC and Ladio Google Groups, on Twitter, and in Facebook groups for media folk.
Before we get into the data, some extremely necessary caveats:
- This is a small industry. The total sample size was 447 respondents. That is not a lot.
- The data represented here skew overwhelmingly white (72%)and female/femme (65%). Because the survey is skewed so white, we have decided not to release analysis according to race, although my spreadsheet will include response rates. I am disappointed not to be able to release definitive numbers on race, but it’s more important here to be accurate. Minority groups of any kind can still benefit from the knowledge I’m sharing.
- Speaking of gender, I left the form open for respondents to indicate their gender, but for data analysis, I am grouping female-identified folk with the female group, and same with male-identified folk.
- Finally, the greatest thank you to Amanda Lee of the Population Reference Bureau, who generously donated her time and brain power to analyzing the data here and helping me make it as accurate as possible.
This is not a perfect survey, and it should not be used to diagnose or dismiss any gender/race wage gaps that might exist in the industry. What I hope that it can do is provide people (particularly underrepresented minorities) with the knowledge of what they’re worth.
See a spreadsheet with full data analysis here. I’m going to extrapolate some key data points below.
Average salary by job title vs. years of experience
I created two fields to measure experience level because the audio world is still very much the wild west in terms of how much money a given job title demands.
This lack of standardization was evident particularly in the difference between average salaries of people with 0–2 years experience ($47,757) vs. people with associate/assistant producer titles ($53,961).
Average salary by company type
Quick definitions of these terms:
- Public media — National Public Radio and member stations around the country.
- Podcast company — like Gimlet, Panoply, or Pineapple St.
- Media company (not audio) — a media organization with a podcast team, like New York Times, Vox, etc.
- Internet radio — SiriusXM, iHeart Media, etc.
Podcast companies tend to have higher average salaries ($78,519), especially compared to public media ($56,931) and internet radio ($55,248).
Average salary when negotiating (or not)
Have I convinced you to #askformore yet?
There’s so much more data than I was able to parse out in this blog post, so please do take a look at the spreadsheet Amanda and I have cleaned out for you all.
I hope you can put this data to good use in advocating for yourself and others in this community.
PS: If you’re getting ready to negotiate a salary for the first or 10th time, check out this guide to negotiation I created with Julia Carpenter earlier this year. Good luck!
PPS: If you’re a freelancer, consider lending your efforts to Ibby Caputo’s survey where she’s collecting data on freelance rates!