At first look, musicians and composers seem like a disorganized bunch. On an individual level, there are no qualifying exams or prerequisites that certify a musician’s level of “professionalism”. On a group level, there is no one organization that represents their collective interests. But scratch below the surface, and different structures become immediately apparent. In addition to record labels, booking agents, managers and other teammates on which musicians rely, musicians and songwriters can align with a vast array of music-related organizations that serve a number of purposes.
As musicians ourselves, we have a sense that membership in these organizations matters, but in what ways? Do musicians that belong to certain organizations participate in more revenue streams? Do they make more money because of these allegiances? Or is the inverse true; do particular types of work make it possible and/or necessary for musicians to join certain organizations? This data memo outlines the general benefits of membership in music-related organizations, then examines the qualitative and quantitative data related to organizational membership and revenue.
On Tuesday, November 13, 2012, Artist Revenue Streams co-director Jean Cook addressed Future of Music Coalition’s 11th DC Policy Summit. Beginning with a review of the 42 Revenue Streams for musicians, Jean outlined the scope of the ARS study, and then went on to discuss the structures that determine the rates that artists get paid for three specific digital revenue streams: iTunes, Pandora and Spotify. This illustration of these specific three revenue streams set the stage for a discussion about the various middlemen upon whom artists rely to represent their interests at the bargaining table, where middlemen interests align and conflict with artists, and what options exists for artists who want to be more involved in how rates for the more complex streams are calculated.
1. Who Decides How Much Artists Get Paid?
We decided to do this presentation because … Read More »
In addition to his sideman work, his income also comes from his work as a bandleader, composer, administrator, and teacher. Like many freelancers, his income fluctuates from year to year. Anecdotally, his gross income appears to roughly track with the growth of his reputation during this period.
We look at the income and expenses for this individual, where we learn that his teaching, admin work and sideman work makes up 70% of his income from 2004-2010, effectively subsidize his work as a bandleader as he establishes himself.
We look at his relationships as a sideman with different bandleaders over time and see 55% of his income and activity comes from two bandleaders, but he also takes on work with 81 different ensembles. He needs all of these gigs to survive. Not just from an economic perspective, but also because these other gigs help him network, keep his skills sharp, and to maintain his position in the competitive marketplace for sidemen.
We examine his per-gig sideman wages by territory and see that there is a marked difference between the income he receives outside the US and in the USA. On average over eight years, Jazz Sideman-Bandleader’s sideman rate when traveling outside the US is approximately three times greater than what he makes in the US.
We analyze his foundation grant income and see that while this money is a large chunk of his gross income, the net take home is very small – 1%. This appears to be typical for bandleaders, that the vast majority of income for recording and touring goes to pay for expenses.
We begin to explore the complex balance he maintains between financial risk, creative fulfillment, and available time.