Case Study: Indie Rock Composer-Performer


Posted on March 15th, 2012 by Jean Cook in Financial Case Studies, Participant Data. 6 Comments

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Reflections on Touring, Songwriting, and Investment in Indie Rock

While the finances of the Indie Rock Composer-Performer are particular to this artist, there are a number of things we can learn about artists similar to him based on what is in this report.

Touring is an important revenue stream; if he stopped playing shows, the artist’s income would plummet.
For this artist, and many like him, income earned from live performance – either for his solo work or as a hired sideman – is a core part of his revenue stream. Indeed, if he stopped playing shows, his income would plummet.

But this artist also exemplifies the long-term value of compositions. In his case, his songwriting contributions to Main Band #1 not only led to publisher advances and publishing royalties, but also PRO royalties for at least five years after origination.

The songs the Artist writes have a significant value that continues to bring income, years after they are written.
There’s also an interesting story about risk and investment. Main Band #1 has a record label deal, a publishing deal, a booking agent and a manager. This means financial support, but also a significant increase in capacity, as record labels can help promote releases to radio, publishers can seek synch licensing deals, and booking agents can secure higher guarantees. As a salaried band member that also co-wrote many of Main Band #1′s songs, our Indie Rock Composer Sideman benefited from this investment. But this also means the band is under pressure from the label and publisher to actively tour and promote its records. Some of these partnerships are limited by the length of a contract, which can sometimes incentivize investors to push for short-term gains over longer-term career investments.
Comparing and contrasting the risk and investment models of Main Band #1 to the Artist’s solo career: while outside investment by labels and publishers can help with cash flow, the Artist’s self-investment can have more lasting value. The downside to self investment is that it can be difficult to build momentum because you are doing everything yourself.
In contrast, his solo work is done with little to no outside investment. Without a label or publishing advance for his solo work, his publishing income, sideman work, and teaching income supplement his own creative output. And, we can see in recent years, the artist has taken on more risk – and more costs — for a greater financial reward, and more creative control. The downside to this is that is more difficult to build momentum because it takes longer to build capital.
As shown in other case studies, there is a tradeoff between financial risk and creative control.
This case study provides a detailed look at the revenue streams for a multi-faceted, full time musician. His time as a salaried player with a touring rock band served him well financially, providing him with guaranteed payments for performances, as well as publishing revenue for his contributions to the sound recordings, with very little risk. But, as we see with other case study subjects, there is the tradeoff between financial risk and creative control. In recent years, Indie Rock Composer-Performer has taken on greater risk in exchange for more creative input, managing his own recording and touring projects. While he is responsible for all of the costs, he is also the recipient of all of the profits. Luckily for this artist, his choices have served him well.

Back to Key Findings

Other Case Studies:
Jazz Sideman-Bandleader
Contemporary Chamber Group
Jazz Composer-Bandleader
Symphony Musician

About the Case Studies

Graphs do not have a Y-axis dollar value in order to observe the conditions of our privacy policy. In addition, graphs and visuals in case studies are not comparable within or between case studies. For more details about this, read about our financial case study protocol.

Information detailed in case studies is based on data received directly from the artist or their authorized representative. The data analysis and lessons learned here are based on individual experience, and do not necessarily reflect the experiences of all musicians in genre or roles.

Case studies are one of three ways this project is looking at music creator income.




6 responses to “Case Study: Indie Rock Composer-Performer”

  1. […] examining the books of a successful indie rocker, for instance, the Future of Music Coalition found thant nearly 40% of […]

  2. […] Allerdings dürften sich die Einkommensquellen teilweise verschoben haben. So erzielen Indie Rock Composer-Performer nach Angaben der US-amerikanischen Future of Music Coalition fast ¾ ihrer Einnahmen im Rahmen von […]

  3. […] example, the case study of an Indie Rock Composer-Performer:  ”While he is an active member of four bands in addition to his solo work, 94% of his […]

  4. […] a whole, the survey makes for fascinating reading — there are some case studies here, including this one of an “indie rock composer-performer” who “writes, records and performs his own […]