Category: What We’re Learning


Money from Music: Where We Live

Posted on 11th September, by Jean Cook in What We're Learning. 1 Comment

How does location impact musicians and composers? Do ‘music cities’ – loosely defined as places where there is a higher concentration of commercial record labels, studios, publishers, or other important commercial industry players – such as Los Angeles, Nashville, or New York offer greater opportunities for artists?

While the over 5,300 respondents of the Money from Music survey lived in all 50 states and also outside the USA, approximately 11% of respondents reported living in the metro areas of Nashville, New York City, or Los Angeles – all cities that have a higher concentration of creative workers [Note 1] compared to the national average.

What is so special about these cities? Do opportunities attributed to location favor artists who play certain roles or are at a certain point in their careers? With the internet making it easy to communicate directly with … Read More »


Does organizational membership matter?

Posted on 5th September, by Kristin Thomson in What We're Learning. 1 Comment

At first look, musicians and composers seem like a disorganized bunch. On an individual level, there are no qualifying exams or prerequisites that certify a musician’s level of “professionalism”. On a group level, there is no one organization that represents their collective interests. But scratch below the surface, and different structures become immediately apparent. In addition to record labels, booking agents, managers and other teammates on which musicians rely, musicians and songwriters can align with a vast array of music-related organizations that serve a number of purposes.

As musicians ourselves, we have a sense that membership in these organizations matters, but in what ways? Do musicians that belong to certain organizations participate in more revenue streams? Do they make more money because of these allegiances? Or is the inverse true; do particular types of work make it possible and/or necessary for musicians to join certain organizations? This data memo outlines the general benefits of membership in music-related organizations, then examines the qualitative and quantitative data related to organizational membership and revenue.


Survey Methods

Posted on 11th July, by Jean Cook in What We're Learning. No Comments

Below is an excerpt of a paper[Note 1] by Peter DiCola that describes the methodology and data of the Artist Revenue Streams project’s Money from Music Survey.

Survey Methods

The Money from Music Survey is part of the larger Artist Revenue Streams Project. The project includes three main parts: (1) qualitative interviews with dozens of musicians about the ways they generate revenue from music; (2) even more detailed case studies in which several musicians allowed a member of our team to have access to their financial and accounting records from recent years; and (3) this Internet-based survey.[Note 2] Future of Music Coalition (“FMC”), which is a nonprofit education, research, and advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C., coordinated the Artist Revenue Streams Project.

More than 6,700 eligible musicians took at least part of the survey in September and October of 2011. A … Read More »


Mythbusting: Data Driven Answers to Four Common Assumptions About How Musicians Make Money

Posted on 2nd December, by Kristin Thomson in What We're Learning. 12 Comments

There are a number of assumptions made about musicians and money. Some are repeated ad nausea, giving them a special status in the public debate about musicians and income as widely believed to be true, but disconnected from any verifiable data besides random anecdotes, isolated data points and personal opinion. Unfortunately, some of these assumptions are are then used to justify certain behaviors, or to inform policy decisions.

Here are four commonly-repeated assumptions:

1. “Musicians are rich”

2. “In a post-Napster world, musicians make all their money from shows/live performance”

3. “In a post-Napster world, musicians don’t make money selling music”

4. “In a post-Napster world, musicians make all of their money from selling t-shirts/merch”

One of the core goals of the Artist Revenue Streams project was to bring some data into this conversation, to give musicians, policymakers, and the general public a better sense of the complex reality of musicians and composers. In four posts, we will examine the “truthiness” of these assumptions, using qualitative and quantitative data collected through the Artist Revenue Streams project.


ARS Presentation: Leverage

Posted on 14th November, by Jean Cook in What We're Learning. 5 Comments

On Tuesday, November 13, 2012, Artist Revenue Streams co-director Jean Cook addressed Future of Music Coalition’s 11th DC Policy Summit. Beginning with a review of the 42 Revenue Streams for musicians, Jean outlined the scope of the ARS study, and then went on to discuss the structures that determine the rates that artists get paid for three specific digital revenue streams: iTunes, Pandora and Spotify. This illustration of these specific three revenue streams set the stage for a discussion about the various middlemen upon whom artists rely to represent their interests at the bargaining table, where middlemen interests align and conflict with artists, and what options exists for artists who want to be more involved in how rates for the more complex streams are calculated.

1. Who Decides How Much Artists Get Paid?

We decided to do this presentation because … Read More »


Are Musicians Making More or Less Money?

Posted on 2nd July, by Kristin Thomson in What We're Learning. 8 Comments

A recent series of blog posts about musicians, music, and income have found various writers claiming – each with a level of certainty – that musicians are making more money/less money today than in years past.

In the “musicians are making less money” camp are writers who focus on the disruptions in the sound recordings sales market. They not only point to the problems with piracy, but also the shift away from album sales to singles sales, both of which have diverted consumer dollars away from physical CD sales. Simple math suggests that musicians are making less on recorded music sales because an increasing amount of royalty payments are based on sales of 99 cent singles, not $15 albums. Or, even worse, consumers aren’t paying anything at all. We have written … Read More »


How Many Musicians Are There?

Posted on 15th June, by Kristin Thomson in Participant Data, What We're Learning. 9 Comments

How many musicians are there in the United States? There is no reliable answer. This blog post describes the difficulty in counting the number of musicians in the US, and the challenges this presents for researchers who seek to measure the creative class now and over time. We discuss the difficulty in defining who a “musician” is, the lack of reliable, centralized data sources, and the methodological choices we made when defining the population of study for the Artist Revenue Streams project.


Jazz Musicians and Money from Music

Posted on 13th June, by Jean Cook in What We're Learning. 4 Comments

This data memo presents a snapshot of nearly 900 jazz musicians who participated in the Money from Music Survey in 2011, the first comprehensive assessment of jazz musicians in the US since “Changing the Beat.” After presenting basic demographic information, this memo provides data about jazz musician’s experience, income, and feelings about technology, and also compares the jazz population to survey takers from other genres. This memo also takes a closer look at the differences between jazz musicians who are members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and those who are not, and the relationship that AFM membership has with income.


Off the Charts: Examining Musicians’ Income from Sound Recordings

Posted on 12th June, by Kristin Thomson in What We're Learning. 5 Comments

On Tuesday, May 9, 2012, Artist Revenue Streams co-director Kristin Thomson took part in the NARM’s Music Biz 2012 Conference in Los Angeles, CA.  Drawing upon Money from Music survey findings and artist interviews, she presented some findings about musicians’ income from the sale, license or performance of sound recordings.

She started the presentation by describing the project’s methodology. The research involves three data collection methods: in person interviews with about 80 different US-based musicians and composers, financial case studies based on verifiable bookkeeping data, and a widely distributed online survey.

She also underscored that this study is not about label market share, or consumer spending, or measuring an artists’ social graph. It’s about individual musicians’ earning capacity. It’s about what they end up putting in their pocket, and how it’s changing over time.

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Whether on vinyl, cassette, CD … Read More »


Does Radio Airplay Matter?

Posted on 7th May, by Kristin Thomson in What We're Learning. 5 Comments

For many decades, commercial radio airplay has been highly coveted by songwriters, musicians and record labels alike because of its enormous promotional power and reach. It has been well understood that consistent commercial airplay accompanies significant record sales, generates public performance royalties, and burnishes a recording artist’s profile.

But there have been major shifts in the radio landscape in the past ten years. We’ve seen the development of both satellite radio and webcasting as alternatives to traditional AM and FM broadcast radio, models that have a lot more flexibility about what types of music they play, and how much control they give the listener over what they hear. We’ve also witnessed the development of a stronger noncommercial radio sector, led by NPR Music and certain powerhouse noncommercial AAA stations like KEXP, KCRW, WXPN, and The Current.

There has also been a shift … Read More »