Methodology

FMC employed three data collection methods simultaneously:

  • in-person interviews with a small but diverse number of musicians in 2010-12
  • a review of financial records of some musicians in 2010-12; and
  • a widely distributed online survey in fall 2011.

This multi-method approach helped us to get the best snapshot of different musicians’ income streams, to create more robust and meaningful findings.

Artist interviews: In step 1, FMC interviewed a small but diverse set of musicians, (or, in some cases, their managers or accountants) to seek their direct input about their revenue streams, and how these have changed over the past ten years. FMC identified about 25 musician types that we expected to have different musical revenue pies, and for which we seek interview candidates. For example, we know that the revenue streams available to a songwriter who doesn’t perform are different than those available to a touring rock band member, a pit orchestra musician, a film and TV composer, a jazz performer who plays standards, a classical ensemble and a high profile hip hop artist. FMC used networks and referrals to identify individuals that fit these musician types, then used a snowball sample[1] to find peers that also match these characteristics.

Financial data: FMC also reviewed individual financial data from some of the musicians that we interviewed, with an understanding that any financial information is anonymous and not identifiable with any particular artist, band or label. Actual financial data can help to quantify the amount of revenue generated in different categories, and changes from year to year. The financial data gathered are presented as Case Studies with an individualized narrative/assessment that focuses on the reasons for fluctuations or changes in their revenue from year to year. The artists’ income data will be displayed in various pie charts that will be compared against data collected during the survey, and from other sources. FMC also plans on making interactive/dynamic charts and graphs for review on this site.

Online survey: FMC created an online survey called Money from Music that presented relevant questions about artists’ revenue streams for US-based musicians. The survey used skip logic to create a survey experience that matches the subject’s role (songwriter, composer, performer) and recognized the differences in how various communities operate and how creators are compensated. FMC put the survey in the field from September 6 to October 28, 2011 to capture information about musicians’ revenue streams for 2011 and prior. We are now analyzing the results not only on the macro level, but also by genre, by time spent/income generated, and other cross-tab measures. See the entire survey question set. Learn more about survey protocol.



[1]Snowball sampling is a technique where existing study subjects recruit future subjects from among their acquaintances. The project’s methodology is more fully described in a protocol document, available from the research team.

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