Steve Martin gets rich off bluegrass

Steve Martin's royalty checksMaster funny man, and respected banjoist Steve Martin is getting rich off bluegrass music. If his film career has not provided for him, then surely his music career will. Specifically in view here is the obscene amount of money Martin is raking in from songwriting royalties.

Some doomsdayers have cried loudly about the demise of the music business, and especially how the humble songwriter is suffering in the digital age. Martin posted recently on his blog to dispel these negative stories.

People say the music business is suffering, but it’s NOT.

As proof for this bold claim, Martin offered images of recent royalty checks he’s received. These should serve to put an end to all the negativity.

Bear in mind that these checks only represent income Martin has received as payment of songwriting royalties, and do not reflect income he may have received from concert ticket sales, CDs, or other merchandising.

Of course, it might be a mistake to take anything Martin says at face value, so there might be an undercurrent of irony in his blog post. If so, what do you suppose is his point?

Is it that despite being wildly successful across more than four decades, he is now getting royalty checks for as low as $0.03? Is it that while he has made $0.13 the record company has pocketed the vast majority of the money for his work? Either way, it is pretty funny to think about such small checks for such a major star.

Regardless, getting a check that is worth less money than the amount of time, energy, and raw materials is pretty silly – but getting THREE such checks is just hilarious! (source)

Leave it to Steve Martin to find something to laugh about in the music business!


    The information is appalling! How is it possible? I am an internet marketing professional and I want to volunteer my series to any bluegrass artist that would like to market their music on their website. Please contact me at

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  • dsmalls

    Randy Feldman — all joking aside, we really have no context as to whether these statements represent an appalling circumstance or not. Martin doesn’t say what compositions these checks are for: they could be from incidental music he composed and performed just once on broadcast television, or original music from a long out-of-print LP. Considering that his last album “The Crow” sold rather well, I’m sure he ALSO gets more sizable checks from Harry Fox, and he’s just playing up these ridiculous checks for comedic effect. That said, I loved your work with