Anticipated Outcomes

Though we can’t predict the actual results of the work, FMC sees at least five uses of the research data:

  1. First, the results will provide musicians, the media and the music community at large with a comprehensive analysis of how musicians from many different genres are being compensated in the digital age. This data will serve as a vital benchmark for understanding the shifting revenue streams for musicians.[1]
  2. Second, the data can help service organizations and advocacy groups understand how they can best serve their constituencies. Giving unions and service organizations data that captures the experiences of other musicians could help them identify trends, map policy objectives, and recruit more members.
  3. Third, it will also help musicians and advocates (and the media) make a more informed case to the general public about the complex realities of being a musician in the current landscape. For instance, many music fans assume that “all artists make money from touring” or “all artists are wealthy” so they don’t feel guilty when downloading songs for free. Perhaps if the public better understood the complex nature of musicians’ revenue (and the relatively small numbers we’re talking about), we can enrich the public dialogue.
  4. Fourth, this research could serve as an external assessment of the value of new technologies and services available to musicians and fans, for musicians. Many new business models have launched in the past ten years that use music to attract users. While many of these include a revenue component for rightsholders, there has not been any systematic effort put into examining if, or how, musicians as a whole have benefited from participating in these new models.
  5. Fifth, the results of this research could have policy implications. Our research may highlight how policy decisions affect artists’ revenue, and serve as a way to leverage change. We may also realize that, despite the technological progress that these new business models represent, the vast majority of musicians live from gig-to-gig and struggle with middle-class issues like mortgages, gas prices and finding affordable health insurance. No matter what the outcome, FMC recognizes the immense value in undertaking this work as a fundamental part of understanding musicians’ earning capacity, now and in the future.


[1] It’s unfortunate that we have no comparative data about musicians’ revenue streams prior to the fundamental changes that began in the late 1990s. However, we hope this work can serve as a benchmark that could be replicated on a time series basis going forward.

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