Money from Music Survey Protocol

September 6, 2011

Goal: To gather crucial information about the ways that US-based musicians and composers are currently generating income from compositions, recordings, performances or brand, and how this has changed over the past five years.

Instrument: FMC used the premium version of Survey Monkey to field this survey.

Question set: The question set was developed between Oct 2010 and Aug 2011 by FMC and the Artist Revenue Streams research advisory committee, with additional advice from outside experts and printed sources.

Field testing: The question set was tested by about 45 different musicians and composers during two different testing stages (June 2011 and late July 2011). Feedback from the testers, which was gathered through feedback questionnaires, follow up calls, in-person interviews, and meetings, was highly influential on the final shape of the survey.

Collection period: The online survey was open from Sept 6 – Oct 28, 2011.

Capacity: There was no limit on the number of participants who could complete it. There was also no restrictions on the number of participants who could take the survey simultaneously.

Completions: High completion rates were critical to the success of this project. Thanks to widespread marketing, thousands of musicians and composers — working in many genres and many roles — completed it, so we have robust data to examine, filter and cross-tabulate.

Marketing: FMC implemented a robust and multi-dimensional marketing plan, which included paid advertising (print and web), op-eds and guest blogs, earned media, podcasts, events, interviews, and social media. We also cultivated partnerships with over 200 organizations and companies that serve musicians and composers, encouraging them to engage with their networks.

Eligible participants: This survey was for US-based musicians and composers who are 18 years of age or older.

Preparation: Many questions related to how survey respondents earn money as a musician and/or composer. Before they started, we urged survey takers to have financial documents or solid estimates of how they earned their musician-based money in the last year, as well as access to a calculator for one of the questions.

Accommodations: For participants who were unable to take the survey online, either because they don’t have internet access or they have difficulty with screen environments, FMC project staff was willing to schedule a time to administer the survey via phone to the participant.

Instructions: Survey participants were shown instructions on an introductory page. We also created a 3 minute video introduction that’s available on YouTube or Vimeo.

Anonymity: Survey respondents’ participation was both voluntary and anonymous. There were no questions where their response would identify them as an individual, and their data will be aggregated with that of thousands of other musicians and composers. We did not collect names or email addresses in the survey itself.

Navigation: The survey did not “time out” if respondents stopped answering questions. As long as survey respondents kept their browser windows open, the survey accepted their answers.

Time estimate and options: Because the music industry is so complex, this survey is thorough. However, we took a number of steps to make it as easy as possible to participate:

  • Early on, survey respondents had a chance to pick a short (10 mins), medium (20 mins) or long path (30 mins) through the remainder of the questions.
  • If they didn’t participate in particular revenue streams or roles, they were skipped past those questions.
  • Throughout the survey, we provided links to a Google doc with definitions of music-industry specific words and terms that may be difficult to understand.

Incentives: In order to encourage participation and increase completion rates, we offered some incentives to survey takers, based on the path they chose to take.

  • Those who completed the long path were eligible for a random drawing for one of four Apple iPad 2’s (value $500).
  • Those who completed the medium path were eligible for a random drawing for one of 100 $10 gift certificates to Amazon or Guitar Center.
  • The first 100 to completed the short path were eligible to receive a discounted entrance to Future of Music Policy Summit in Washington, DC Oct 3-4, 2011.

Random drawing process: Participants who completed the long and medium paths were presented with a 4-digit PIN on a specific page inside their path. They were encouraged to write down this PIN number for later. After they completed the survey, all respondents were automatically re-directed to a separate follow up questionnaire, which asked them to enter their PIN if they would like to be added to the appropriate raffle. If yes, they had to leave a name and email address in this questionnaire. Because this is a separate data collection instrument, their email and name were not associated with their survey answers.

The random drawings took place on November 10, 2011. FMC used a random digit generator to choose the 4 recipients of Apple iPad 2, and the 100 recipients of $10 gift cards. Winners were contacted by email. We also made a video of the drawing for the iPads:


Results: This survey — along with interview and financial case study data — will provide a rich snapshot of the complex nature of being a musician in the 21st century. We will be sharing the data with organizations, advocates and musicians nationwide in 2012, and we hope it will help us to ensure that policymakers and the public understand the financial realities of musicians today.

Findings | ARS Data Portal

If you have technical questions or feedback about survey design, please email