Data Memos and Reports

We have a huge amount of qualitative and quantitative data that we have collected through interviews, a large-scale survey, and financial case studies. Instead of issuing one enormous report, we have been examining the data through various lenses:

Topline survey respondent characteristics

Specific revenue sources

By genre

By demographic characteristics

By external factors and support structures

Special series


Six Financial Case Studies
As part of this project, a handful of full-time musicians granted us access to their musician-related financial records. Our case studies illustrate each musicians’ income and expenses year-by-year.


Some additional writing about challenges of doing research on this population


Sign up for our monthly newsletter to learn about upcoming releases on income from live performance, whether membership matters, music cities, income for songwriters/composers, or the revenue streams or session musicians, and more.

Additional resources
42 Streams: Existing, Expanded, NewThe same list, but reorganized to identify revenue streams that have expanded – or been newly created – in the past 15 years. Read more
42 Revenue Streams A list of all the potential revenue streams for US-based musicians, performers and composers based on the contours of copyright law and business practice. Read more


FMC’s Digital Distribution A diagram designed for musicians to help them understand how to get their music into various platforms and services. Read more
FMC’s New Business Models Google spreadsheet that shows if/how/how much songwriters, performers, record labels and publishers are paid when their music is used/performed on a variety of new digital platforms. Read more


Music and How the Money Flows An infographic that illustrates how the money flows back to musicians and songwriters when their music is downloaded, webcast or streamed. Read more
Music and Money Quizzes A quiz about the copyright laws, licenses and agreements that frequently determine who gets paid, and how much. Take one of these quizzes and see how you measure up! 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.


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 »