One of the most pondered upon questions that many young adult B-Boys (and their parents) wonder is, how do professional B-Boys make a living? According to the “B-Boying Statistics and Research” Facebook research group, the second most common way that someone gets introduced into B-Boying, is through High School, the first being introduced by a friend. Eventually, as they grow older, they will at one point begin thinking about money and the pressures and responsibilities of life will inevitably kick in.
Depending on the financial pressures and/or responsibilities of life, many B-Boys will then be forced to make a decision. Do they quit Breakin in order to pursue a time consuming career? Or do they find a regular job to sustain themselves while they continue to break as a hobby? Or possibly, can they pursue their dream of being a full time Professional B-Boy?
Firstly, we need to clarify what we mean when we say “Professional B-Boy”. When we say Professional B-Boy, we are referring to a B-Boy who makes their primary living, strictly from being a B-Boy, as a career. This only includes work where one has to “Break”, not other aspects such as organizing events or selling merchandise.
So this Blog is aimed at answering the questions, as to how a professional B-Boy (or B-Girl) generates enough income to sustain themselves financially.
Before we begin, it must be noted that the majority of professional B-Boy’s do not make a lot of money.
The following poll on the B-Boy Statistics and Research page indicate that the majority of B-Boys who lived primarily off Breakin made a staggering less than $10,000 USD.
So the majority of people, who live primarily from B-Boying, don’t make a lot of money. However, the B-Boys who do make enough money to sustain them also have the satisfaction of being able to do what they love for a living, which is priceless.
Never-the-less, even though there are people who make their living from actually “B-Boying”, the question is, are they doing the type of B-Boying work that they really want? Below is another poll from the B-Boying Statistics and Research Facebook group which illustrates what are the “Dream B-Boy jobs” of many worldwide.
Without further delay, below is a list of the top 7 different ways a B-Boy can make a financial career from B-Boying.
According to the B-Boy statistics and Research Group, the most common B-Boy job is to teach local classes. Teaching classes is the most common job because:
- You don’t have to be the best
Even if you are an amateur; there are probably some rich “Wanna-B-Boys” who need someone to teach them the bare basics. There are also rich parents who need someone to babysit their A.D.D. children and get them to use up all their rambunctious energy.
- It can be more consistent
You don’t have to wait for gig, emails or phone calls. You can get paid on a more consistent basis by setting up consistent programs.
- It’s local
You don’t have to travel far when there are community centers or dance studios nearby.
The disadvantages of Teaching B-Boy Classes for a living are:
- Can be physically draining
- Might not like the students
- Tied to a contract and can’t travel
Either way, teaching classes is usually the first step to making money as a B-Boy. Just remember that, although it’s more consistent, it’s never 100 percent stable, as majority of classes have a start and end date, usually for 8-12 week segments. There are also sometimes cancellations of classes, but the great thing is, when you do teach classes, your always in shape, and only teaching for just a couple of hours a day, which can be your choice on how many classes you want to teach a day or week. If you want to try and fill up your schedule, you can definitely do it!
If teaching B-Boy classes is for you, than there are many ways to teach classes and in different places. As you become better at teaching classes, more doors may be opened to teach in more creative or prestigious places. Below are different places where B-Boys around the world teach classes, and it’s put in order of least to most experience:
- Community Centers / Youth Centers
- Dance Studios / Dance Academies
- High Schools / Elementary Schools
- Private Classes
- Colleges / Universities
- Youth Detention Centers
At first you might start off teaching for centers and schools. Eventually, you might get to the point where you begin creating “B-Boying programs”, and before you know it, you become a program director. Or perhaps, you one day open your own studio or school!
Here are some tips to become a teacher in B-Boying:
- Write a lesson plan of what you are going to teach
- Write a resume, cover letter and mission statement
- Go to community centers and dance studios, asking if they are looking for beginner/ amateur B-Boy lessons instructors (be prepared to do a demo)
Average pay for teaching classes: $20-$60 per hour
B-Boy Showcases / Performances
Another very popular way of the B-Boy hustle, is to do showcases for money. The benefits of showcases, is that it normally can lead to more work, and is a quick way to make some money in 5-10 minutes. The only down side, is you have to deal with companies and corporations that want to pay you as little as possible, and even if you have much experience, there will be other B-Boys and groups who undercut you for less pay. You also might have some waiting time between searching for shows to come up, so make sure you keep busy by continually practicing and upgrading your showcase skills.
Below are the types of showcases and Performances:
- Private showcases (Bar mitzvahs, Weddings, Birthday parties, etc,)
These are the most common and will most likely start with people you know. This happens by referrals. Make sure to have a few business cards available.
- Corporate Showcases (Conferences, expos, demos, etc)
Corporate shows usually have more money to spend on entertainment. However, being a corporation, they will try to spend a little as possible and get the most they can. You should also think the same way when working with them. The less they want to pay, the less work you should do. If they want to pay the bare minimum, then do the shortest 2 person 3 minute crazy performance to keep them wanting to come back for more. Be prepared to show them what they’re paying for ahead of time as well. Just remember, if they think they can get the same thing you can offer cheaper from somewhere else, they most certainly will. So make sure your performances offer something different. Now if you have competition with another crew, try to meet with them and discuss standards, so that the companies are not playing you.
- Street Shows
Believe it or not, street shows are one of Bboyings number one ways to make money. If the weather is nice, and there are many tourists, Street shows are the way to go. However, you need to learn the tricks of the trade, you need to be funny, entertaining, and learn to master the art of raking in that cash.
Did you know: an entire underground scene of Street Hitting B-Boys exist in New York City which has little to no connection to the worldwide B-Boy community?
Mastering the art of showcases and performances can lead to many more opportunities. Not to mention, when performing for “non-bboys” you tend to keep up your “crowd pleaser game”. Eventually, your performance ability might lead you into the next level of performances…
Average pay for B-Boy Showcases: $200-$1000 per 5-10 minute showcase
Average profit for B-Boy street shows: $40-$100 per 5 minute performance, skit or freestyle
Unlike regular performances, Theatre performances are on a large bigger scale and can usually involve having to gain other skills and talents such as acting. Usually, large production theatre performances, have high budgets to pay their performers, and are often more than a “one time gig”. It’s in their best interest to take care of their performer’s health, as your ability to perform to the best of your ability, is in the shows best interest. Some performances are local and show only in one venue, while other Theatre performances travel on tour. Either way, if you made it this far, it’s because you have earned it. Signing up for a theatre show or getting booked to go on tour can be long and strenuous, but after the tour is done, you usually have a large lump sum of cash which you will need to stretch out until your next tour.
If you want to join a theatre show, keep your eyes and ears open for casting calls. Normally, anyone can audition.
Another road you can go is to create your own theatre performances. This way, you have free reign to choreograph your own theatre piece, with your crew.
If this is one of your dreams to start your own Theatre show:
- Search for government grants and apply for art funding
- Simply create the show yourself, rent the venue, and sell admission tickets.
Average Theatre performance pay: $200-$500 per performance (x number of shows per tour)
As you and/or your groups name gets bigger and recognized for your skills and “entertainment value”, you might enter into a new realm.
The commercial entertainment industry is where a lot of the money is, and currently, is the biggest money maker for B-Boying. This is the reason why many of the best B-Boys from a country, will move to the entertainment capital or district such as Hollywood , Seoul, etc.
Different types of jobs that are available in the commercial industry are:
- Commercials and Advertising
- Back up dancers / Choreographers
- Television shows
If your primary goal is to make money through the entertainment industry, you will have to:
- Live in the entertainment capital
- Seek out a good casting / talent agency
The advantages are:
- The Money
- the Fame
- The lifestyle
The biggest disadvantages are:
- The money, fame & lifestyle
- Compromising your values (selling out)
- Dry times (not getting casted)
Average pay per Entertainment industry gig: $5000-$20,000
Now if your skills are really high, and you feel that the entertainment industry is not for you because you want to stick to the roots and culture of B-Boying, then you may be able to make a career from the actual culture itself, which is:
B-Boying competitions have grown to a level all around the world, from large world championship competitions, all the way down to local grass root community events. The supply and demand for Judges is constant. As a matter of fact, for many Professional B-Boys who live primarily through the culture, being invited to judge competitions is their main source of income.
- Paid travel, hotel, and food for weekend duration (not spending money)
- Best seat in the venue to watch battles
- Very little amount of work (usually only one judges showcase)
- Ego getting big from sitting on the judging throne
- Spend too much time away travelling
- Can get boring watching too many battles
- Begin losing skills because lack of training time
- People hating on you because of your opinion
- B-Boys undercutting you for Judging gigs
Being an international judge is an honorable position in the B-Boying community. This means that there are people who actually value your opinion or expertise. All you have to do is not mess it up!
To become an international judge, you will need one or more of the following criteria:
- Be a game changer in the scene
- Be a contributor to the development of B-Boying moves or styles
- Be a respected member of the international B-Boy community for 15+ years
- Prove you know what it takes to be a winner by winning battles
- Have a lot of political friends in high places
How to mess it up:
- Be difficult to work with (having a big ego, getting into trouble, demanding too much, etc)
- Being biased towards one approach (should have an open mind where all types of B-Boys will see you as a fair judge)
- Irresponsibility (ex. Missing flights, cancelling gigs)
The truth is that there is now way to regulate who can judge or who can’t, and thus has always been a major problem in the community. Marketing yourself beyond just your own city is a first step, and making a name internationally should be your main goal.
Average international judge pay: $500 – $1200 per weekend
Average local judge pay: $50-$150 per event
If you made it to becoming an international judge, then you can begin moving onto the next major way professional B-Boys make income.
Most B-Boys who have been travelling, battling and judging in the world wide B-Boy community will at one point be asked to teach a workshop. If you are able to build a strong reputation for teaching great workshops and knowledge, there can be a lot of money to be made from Master Workshops.
- Premium pay for a single class
- Extra income aside from judging
- Possible Workshop tours, sharing knowledge, experiences and secrets
- Paid travel, accommodations and food to travel and dance with the next generation of B-Boys
- Away from home longer amounts of time
- Other B-Boys learning your moves and secrets (Bad if you are still competitive)
To become a Master workshop teacher, you need to:
- Become an international renown judge
- Market yourself as a master teacher (make sure everyone thinks and says this about you)
- Align yourself with top B-Boys whom you can claim responsibility for having made them who they are. (hopefully it’s true)
Becoming a Master Workshop Teacher should become a retirements B-Boy plan, when one retires from competitive battling. Also, one should have an understanding family who will allow them to travel for long amounts of time.
Average Master Workshop pay: $200-$500 per 1.5hr to 3hr workshop OR $10-$50 per student
Before being a judge and a master workshop teacher, one should first become a respected B-Boying through “Battling” which is not only the statistically lowest paid (and riskiest) aspect of B-Boying, but also is the dream job if one can make a living from it.
According to B-Boying Statistics and Research Facebook group poll, the dream job, if someone can make a living by doing any job through Breakin, the number one choice is to make money strictly from Battling, representing and bringing honor to your crew, your city, and/or your country.
While representing for glory, honor and respect is majority the reason why one gets into B-Boying in the first place, this aspect of B-Boying is actually the lowest paid job, mainly due to the fact that, you have to win in order to get paid. The higher the cash prize, usually the higher the competition level.
As a matter of fact, although there are a small handful of B-Boys who might make the majority of their income from prize money (such as Morris Fallen Kingz / Supernaturalz), the main reason for Battling is to get to a level where you’re asked to judge and eventually teach master workshops.
For many, this is the sad truth about doing exactly what you love to do and getting paid for it, however…
With the rise of the Pro-B-Boy movement (professional B-Boy movement), there are now a handful of B-Boys who received a sponsorship endorsement for being the top competition B-Boys in the world, namely, the Red Bull BC One Allstars. These 10 B-Boys are paid a monthly salary to just practice, as well as financial incentives for placing higher in world prestigious competitions.
Recently, Monster Energy also decided to put together their own sponsored team called the “Monster B-Boys”.
Average sponsored athlete: $1800-$2500 monthly salary/ $200-$1000 for placing anywhere from quarter finals to 1st place
Although the Red Bull BC One All-stars and the Monster B-Boys aren’t specifically paid to “just battle”, this has opened up a new world of “Endorsed B-Boys”. Perhaps in the future, B-Boys will be endorsed to just battle, much like professional MMA fighters are paid to fight, and professional teams are paid to just play, this might be the future for B-Boying competitions.
Until that day, you have to keep believing in a Pro B-Boy future. For many B-Boys who started in the 90’s and earlier, they would have never believed that B-Boying would grow to what it is today. For now, if you decide to live the B-Boy lifestyle, you are going to have to make some sacrifices, such as not making so much money, or moving to the entertainment capital, training for shows instead of battles, etc. Just know that there are people out there making sacrifices of their own to create a Pro B-Boy future, and won’t stop until the B-Boy culture has become official, united and recognized worldwide, and there will be more than 7 ways Pro B-Boys can earn a living.
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