Are Musicians Benefiting from Music Tech?
At SF MusicTech, we gave the audience three takeaways:
1. Emerging technologies have had a significant impact on their careers as musicians and composers. The survey questions and interview responses strongly suggest that emerging music/technology has had a measurable impact on their careers as musicians and composers. Revenue generation aside, technology has made them more self-sufficient, given them the ability to connect directly with fans and peers, and leveled the playing field in general. But technology also brings new challenges; some musicians and managers we spoke with found navigating this new landscape exhausting, and the new responsibilities and opportunities distracted them from their core work creating or performing.
2. Overall, digital sales platforms seem to be having a positive impact on musicians’ earning capacity. iTunes is the digital store that most musicians and managers that we interviewed mentioned as being the most impactful, and digital sales/downloads in general is the activity that is most acknowledged by our survey respondents. A strong caveat that this only impacts musicians who have the opportunity to make money off of sound recordings. We can’t forget that this digital transition, as great as it’s been for many musicians, is “not applicable” to others – the session musicians, the salaried players, the teachers, and composers who create works for broadcast and other non-sales options.
3. Streaming services are not a significant revenue stream for musicians….yet. Perhaps our timing is impeccable, and we are at the cusp of a new wave of revenue from millions of subscription service plays. There certainly was hope for that expressed by some of our interviewees. But many artists are either not seeing the money yet or, if they are, it’s not enough for it to make a dent in their pocketbook. This resonates closely with the ongoing discussions about artists’ payments for streaming plays, and a conversation that will certainly continue over the next months and years.
We encourage you to take a deeper look at our findings, and at our future releases where we will continue the conversation about how musicians and composers’ revenue streams are changing in the 21st century.