Off the Charts: Examining Musicians’ Income from Sound Recordings


Posted on June 12th, 2012 by Kristin Thomson in What We're Learning. 5 Comments

Interviewees’ thoughts on sound recording income

The survey is just one of three ways we collected data.  We also conducted over 80 interviews with musicians, composers and managers. For those who participated in the sales of sound recordings, the answer we heard most frequently from interviewees was they were seeing a drop in this income stream.

A manager of an established classical quartet with dozens of sound recordings in its catalog told us that all the sound recording-related income had decreased:

“The thing that’s decreased—this won’t surprise you—is the income from recording. By that I mean the royalties, the advances, all of the income streams that go along with the recordings. It’s all decreased significantly over the last 10 years.”
– Contemporary Chamber Ensemble

A country music manager talked about how unauthorized filesharing has impacted legitimate sales:

“I think peer-to-peer has been very destructive and, at the very least, it is obviously clear that it breaks copyright laws and I think it has had a dramatic impact on the amount of record sales that an artist is able to achieve.”
– Country Music Manager

A Nashville songwriter told us about the drop in mechanical royalties. Now, technically, this is about composition money, but he’s talking about the drop in sales that has led to the decline in mechanicals:

“Mechanical royalties have just been decimated; the statement that was 20 pages long and involved six figures has turned into this statement that’s 100 pages long and doesn’t even make five figures. It’s probably, I’d say, at least a 75% decline in mechanical royalties…”
– Nashville Songwriter

And a rock guitarist also recognized the drop in sales, but was moving on:

“[…] it definitely seems that people in general are bummed that record sales are so shitty and while I would love to get paid more for records I, long ago, gave up chasing that particular ghost and have looked for money elsewhere.”
– Damian Kulash, rock band guitarist and singer

Next: Sound recording income by category





5 responses to “Off the Charts: Examining Musicians’ Income from Sound Recordings”

  1. […] Artist Revenue Streams has posted the latest study from their musician survey and it seems to confirm other hypotheses and trends regarding the […]

  2. […] The resulting income from sound recordings report includes dozens of charts and interviewee quotes that focus specifically on musicians’ income from sound recordings. In summary, the data suggests: […]

  3. […] The uptick in digital sales is credited primarily to the increase in streaming music services from companies like Spotify LTD and Pandora Media Inc., coupled with downloads from services like iTunes. Digital music sales now account for 41 percent of all music sales in the U.S. (Image via FutureofMusic.org) […]

  4. […] size allows a good insight into the revenue situation of the survey participants. In the blog post “Off the Charts: Examining Musicians’ Income from Sound Recordings”, project manager Kristin Thomas presents survey data on revenues from music streaming and […]

  5. […] “Off the Charts: Examining Musician’s Income from Sound Recordings” (via ARTIST REVENUE STREAMS) […]