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


Posted on December 2nd, 2012 by Kristin Thomson in What We're Learning. 12 Comments

On Thursday, March 15, 2012, Artist Revenue Streams co-directors Kristin Thomson and Jean Cook participated in a panel called Brass in Pocket: Accessing More Musician Income at South by Southwest in Austin, TX.  Drawing upon Money from Music survey findings, artist interviews, and the panelists’ personal experience, they talked about a handful common assumptions and myths about how musicians make money.

Kristin and Jean started the conversation 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.

They 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.

These four posts expand on the data presented at SXSW 2012.

 ~~

There are a number of assumptions made about musicians and money. Some are repeated ad nauseum, 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 any 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.

Assumption 1. “Musicians are rich”





12 Responses to “Mythbusting: Data Driven Answers to Four Common Assumptions About How Musicians Make Money”

  1. [...] will be more analysis coming on the FMC website over the next few days, and we’ll be reading with interest to see [...]

  2. [...] Mythbusting: Data Driven Answers to Four Common Assumptions About How Musicians Make Money | Artist… From money.futureofmusic.org – Today, 11:48 PM [...]

  3. [...] Future Of Music Mythbusting: Data Driven Answers to Four Common Assumptions About How Musicians Make Money [...]

  4. [...] Future of Music Coalition is leveraging its Artist Revenue Streams data to engage in some mythbusting regarding how musicians make (or don’t make) [...]

  5. [...] Industry < rtine Get flash to fully experience Pearltrees Mythbusting: Data Driven Answers to Four Common Assumptions About How Musicians Make Money | Artist … <i>On Thursday, March 15, 2012, Artist Revenue Streams co-directors Kristin Thomson and Jean [...]

  6. [...] Mythbusting: Data Driven Answers to Four Common Assumptions About How Musicians Make Money [...]

  7. [...] is not the same thing as “the recorded music business”—especially for musicians. A recent survey by the Future of Music Coalition found that, on average, 6 percent of musicians’ income comes from sound [...]

  8. […] merchandise and record sales certainly go a long way to supporting your favorite artists, don’t think this an upward trend. Right now, there is a major revenue gap forming around popular music and the […]

  9. […] merchandise and record sales certainly go a long way to supporting your favorite artists, don’t think this an upward trend. Right now, there is a major revenue gap forming around popular music and the […]

  10. […] is not the same thing as “the recorded music business”—especially for musicians. A recent survey by the Future of Music Coalition found that, on average, 6 percent of musicians’ income comes from sound […]

  11. […] so prevalent in the music industry, that studies have even been conducted, such as this one by the Future of Music Coalition, that found touring is a much bigger piece of the pie […]

  12. […] Common Assumptions About How Musicians Make Money,” Future of Music Coalition (Dec. 7, 2012), money.futureofmusic.org/mythbusting/3. 6. See, e.g. Jacob Ganz, “A Nerdier Guide To 2012 Summer Music Festivals Than You Require,” […]