Portal Data and Definitions

About the data

This data portal shows the aggregated survey data about the ways that US-based musicians are currently generating income from their compositions, recordings, performances or brand, collected by Future of Music Coalition during the Money from Music Survey, conducted from September 6 – October 28, 2011.

The online survey was completed by 5,371 US-based musicians, composers and performers, working in many disciplines and genres. The survey was one of three methods used by the Artist Revenue Streams research team to collect primary source data from US-based musicians about the revenue streams on which they are relying.

survey protocol | survey questions

About the filter choices

The left-hand column of the data portal allows users to select certain filters by which to view the survey data.

  1. Main money-generating genre
  2. Musician roles
  3. Full-time musicians
  4. Years of experience
  5. Gross Estimated Music Income
  6. Music education
  7. Gender

Below we provide some additional detail about how these filters are defined.

1. Main money-generating genre

On the Money from Music survey, respondents were asked to identify their primary, secondary and tertiary musical genres. In a separate question, they were asked to identify the genre that generates the most money for them. For these two survey questions, the list of genres included these 32 options:

A Capella DJ Punk
Americana Electronic R&B
Avant Garde Experimental Rap/Hip-Hop
Bluegrass Folk Reggae
Blues Funk Religious
Celtic Gospel Rock/Alt-Rock
Children’s Hawaiian Singer-Songwriter
Christian Indie Soul
Classical Metal Vernacular/Traditional
Composer Not applicable World
Country Pop

This control on the data portal allows users to filter the survey data based on the most popular answers to the second genre question: “Which genre currently generates the most money for you?”. In some cases, we have grouped similar genres together in order to have a large enough group to generate an output.

Genre Sample size
Classical 1725
Jazz 635
Rock Includes Alt-Rock, Indie, Punk and Metal 501
Country Includes Americana, Bluegrass, Singer/Songwriter and Folk 534
All other genres Includes respondents who indicated that any of the genres besides Classical, Jazz, Rock, Alt-Rock, Indie, Punk, Metal, Country, Americana Bluegrass, Singer/Songwriter or Folk was their money genre. 1976
2. Musician roles

On the Money from Music survey, respondents were allowed to select as many or as few musical roles as were relevant to their musical work. The options on the survey were:

  • I write original music
  • I write lyrics
  • I am a recording artist
  • I am a performer
  • I am a salaried member of an orchestra, band or ensemble
  • I am a session player/freelancer
  • I am a teacher

80% of respondents selected more than one role, indicating that it is common for musicians to be playing multiple roles.

We have constructed the dashboard to acknowledge the reality of multiple roles. The default filter setting is all roles, but data portal users can press the green radio button on the left of any role to focus on respondents who affirmatively selected this role, or they can press the red radio button on the right if they want to remove respondents who selected this role.

In other words, clicking on the YES composer + YES recording artist + YES performer + NO teacher will focus on survey respondents who only selected these three roles, and did NOT select teaching as a role.

3. Music-only career

This is a constructed variable that groups together the survey respondents who reported spending 36 hours a week or more on music and earning 75% or more of their personal income from music. Both criteria must be true for respondents to be classified as full-time musicians.  32% — or 1736 — of the survey respondent population are considered full-time musicians. This control allows users to focus on those respondents who are full-time musicians.

4. Years of experience

On the Money from Music survey, we also asked respondents to estimate the number of years they had been a musician, composer, and/or performer. The options on the survey were:

  • Less than 5 years
  • 6-10 years
  • 11-15 years
  • 16-20 years
  • 21-25 years
  • 26-30 years
  • 31-35 years
  • 36-40 years
  • More than 40 years

The filter on the data portal condenses these choices into three groups: Less than 16 years, 16 to 30 years, and More than 30 years, and gives users an opportunity to explore income sources by career length.

5. Gross Estimated Music Income (EMI)

This is a calculated variable based on respondents’ answers to two different questions:

(personal gross income) x (percent of income derived from music)

On the Money from Music survey, respondents were asked to indicate their personal gross income. The options were:

  • Less than $20,000
  • $20,000 to $39,999
  • $40,000 to $59,999
  • $60,000 to $79,999
  • $80,000 to $99,999
  • $100,000 to $119,999
  • $120,000 to $139,999
  • $140,000 to $159,999
  • $160,000 to $179,999
  • $180,000 to 4199,999
  • $200,000 or more
  • Decline to answer

They were also asked what percent of their personal income was derived from music. The options went from 0% to 100% in 5% increments.

To calculate the gross Estimated Music Income (EMI), we took the midpoint number for the personal gross income, and multiplied it by the percent of income number. So, for example, if the respondent selected a personal gross income of $60,000 to $79,999 and said that 75% of their income was derived from music:

$70,000 x .75 = $52,500 EMI

There were 370 respondents who did not know or declined to answer the personal gross income question, or did not answer the percent of income derived from music question. Because these generate null EMI values, these respondents are dropped out of the sample displayed on the data portal.

This filter allows users to see how respondents with different strata of EMI are earning their musical income.

6. Music education

On the Money from Music survey we asked three questions about education. First, we asked generally about education levels, from high school to advanced degrees. We also asked specifically about music education:

  • Did you go to a music or performance-based college/university, or a conservatory?
  • (if yes to above) Did you earn a degree in music?

The musical education filter on the data portal allows users to focus on the 2,728 respondents — or about 51% of the sample — who said yes, they did attend a music or performance-based college/university, or a conservatory.

7. Gender

On the Money from Music survey, we also asked about gender. The options were:

  • Male
  • Female
  • Transgender

About 62% of respondents were male, and 27% were female. A very small number of respondents (N=12) selected transgender. 11% of respondents skipped the question. This filter allows users to examine the data by gender.

Return to the ARS Data Portal.

About the outputs

The two right-hand columns of the data dashboard display various outputs. In other words, this is the data that is displayed after users select various filters.  Below we describe some of the terminology used in the outputs.

1. Estimated Music Income

As noted above, gross Estimated Music Income (EMI) is a calculated variable: (personal gross income) x (percent of income derived from music). This output shows the average Gross Estimated Music Income for the selected group, based on the respondents’ prior 12 months of activity.

2. Income by category

On the Money from Music survey, respondents were asked to allocate their annual music-related income amongst eight possible categories:

  1. Compositions/being a composer
  2. Sound recordings/being a recording artist
  3. Performances
  4. Being a salaried player
  5. Session player/freelancer
  6. Merchandise/brand income
  7. Teacher/teaching
  8. Other

The survey required respondents’ answers to total 100%.

This output illustrates the aggregated income allocations for the selected group. As an example, a selected group might earn 35% of their gross music income from live performance, and 9% of their gross income from sound recordings. This bar chart output allows users to see how income allocation changes for musicians based on role, genre, education, or career trajectory.

Read more about the challenges associated with gross versus net.

3. Income trends

On the Money from Music survey, we asked respondents to think back over the prior five years, and to indicate how their revenue had changed in each of these categories, if at all. The options for each income category above were:

  • Increased
  • Stayed the same
  • Decreased
  • Don’t know
  • Not applicable

The output on the data portal shows two different data points about the perceived changes in each income category.

First, it shows the difference between the percent of respondents who said that this income stream had increased, and the percent of respondents who said this income stream had decreased. So, for instance, if 20% of respondents said that teaching income had increased, and 12% of respondents said that teaching income had decreased for them, the differential is 20% – 12% = +8%.

Second, it shows the percent of respondents for whom this income stream is applicable. For many musicians, certain income streams are simply not relevant to their musical craft. For instance, for classical genre musicians, 6% said their composing income had increased, 4% said it had decreased, but 82% said questions about trends in composer income were not applicable. The grey bars in this output indicate the applicability of the revenue stream to the selected group.

To be clear, the Income Trends data reflects respondents’ perceived changes in income by category. In order to truly measure changes in income over time, we would need to conduct additional survey research.

4. Other sources of income from music

On the Money from Music survey, we asked respondents whether they had received any income from any of the following sources in the prior 12 months:

  • AARC royalties
  • Acting
  • AFM Secondary Markets Fund
  • AFM Special Payments Fund
  • AFM/AFTRA Fund
  • AFTRA Contingent Scale
  • ASCAPLUS Awards
  • Corporate sponsorship
  • Fan Club
  • Fan Funding
  • Grants
  • Honoraria
  • Label settlements
  • Persona licensing
  • Producing
  • Product Endorsements
  • Publisher advance
  • Sample licensing
  • WebAds
  • YouTube

The survey question was simply a yes/no/don’t know choice. The survey did not ask respondents how much money they made from any of these sources.

The output on the data portal shows the percent of respondents who answered that, yes, that they had received some money from this income source in the prior 12 months. We do not know how much money, but this output indicates participation rates in some of these specific sources of income.

5. Credits and activity

On the Money from Music survey, we asked participants who chose either the medium or long paths through the survey about different levels of participation in various activities.  We asked them:

  • Composition activity: About how many publicly-released tracks have you received credit on as the songwriter/composer during your career?
  • Sound recording activity: About how many publicly-released tracks have you received credit on as the recording artist during your career? For symphonic performers, each movement of a multi-movement piece counts as a track.
  • Performance activity: In the past 12 months, about how many concerts or shows did you perform?

In each case, the answer options were:

  • 0
  • 1 to 50
  • 51 to 100
  • More than 100

The data dashboard, shows the percent of the selected group who have:

  • 50 or more composing credits in career
  • 50 or more recording credits in career
  • 50 or more performing credits in prior 12 months

Since compositions, sound recordings and performances are the fundamental drivers of income, we want to give users a sense of the selected group’s level of activity in those areas.

6. Comparing revenue allocations by genre

If the user selects a genre-related filter (Jazz, Classical, Rock, Country), an output will appear at the bottom of the second column that shows how revenue allocation in the selected genre compares with all the respondents who did not select that genre. So, if the user selects the Classical genre filter, this output will show the revenue allocations for Classical respondents in blue, and all the respondents who selected any genre besides Classical in orange. Users can then see how revenue allocation by category changes by genre.

7. Primary genres for this group

This output shows the primary genres for selected groups. This can help users who have selected role, career experience, or EMI filters to understand the genres in which the selected group is most likely to be operating.

8. Music versus non-music income by age

Based on answers to personal gross income, and percent of income derived from music, we are able to calculate the amount of income that is derived from music, and what is generated by non-musical sources (other jobs, investments, etc). This stacked column output shows the music income in teal, and the non-music income in grey, for various age strata. The dotted line indicates the EMI for the selected group.

9. Where this group lives

This map shows where the selected group lives by ZIP code.


Return to the ARS Data Portal.