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.
Looking at the gross income, we see that 95.4% of the Ensemble’s gross income comes from live performance fees. They retain a professional manager in 2004, and their touring income more than doubles by 2005.
When taking expenses into account, we learn that though their gross income fluctuates from year to year, their net profit is steadily increasing. We also see that while their records are doing very well for classical music and have recouped, the Ensemble does not rely in this income at all (0.1% of their 2002-2010 income is from record royalties paid by a label) and instead treats recordings as marketing for the ensemble.
We reflect on the classical music marketplace, which is distinct from other markets. Their situation is similar to Professional Orchestra Player’s in that they are highly skilled musicians that are usually paid a relatively high wage in an extremely competitive marketplace.
After years of training and competing, the Artist has won a coveted seat as a salaried player in a major symphony orchestra – a position that includes health insurance and a pension. His income fluctuates until he wins the seat in the symphony. At that point, his income will be stable as long as he is with the orchestra.
Classically-trained professional musicians have only a few expenses – education and instruments being one of the top ones – but these expenses can be significant and usually cannot be avoided. They function in an unusual economy where musical instruments can sometimes be a significant investment and are often loaned or bequeathed because of their extreme cost.
Professional Orchestra Players are often not composers, and do not participate in a significant way in many copyright-related income streams. They rely on the unions to help them collect the few and various “background musician” royalties they are entitled to.
We also reflect on the extremely competitive nature of this line of work. Mentorship can sometimes play a large role in helping a young player navigate this competitive terrain.
US-based orchestras have a rich history of making sound recordings of classical repertoire. Have you ever wondered if and how the performers are paid when those sound recordings are sold?
This question came up while we were working on a case study of a young professional orchestra player. While categorizing his income streams, we realized we didn’t know how sound recording revenue flowed back to performers. Was it a profit split with all current members? What about the money generated from legacy recordings that are still sold?
Below is a description of how it works for unionized orchestras, in other words, the orchestras where the performers are members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM). This includes all of the major professional orchestras in the US.
If an AFM orchestra goes … Read More »
On Monday, January 30, 2012, FMC’s Kristin Thomson participated in Visionary Monday at the annual MIDEM conference in Cannes, France. Drawing upon data from both Money from Music survey findings and artist interviews, we explained the changing relationship between artists, brands and earnings.
The FMC team spent some time with the Network of Music Career Development Officers at their annual meeting on Thursday, January 11, 2012 at the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. Here are some slides from our presentation, which look at some of the survey results with respect to conservatory and music school graduates.
In this presentation we looked at the characteristics of the 2,728 musicians and composers who said they graduated from a conservatory of music school. The top regions for this group were New York, Boston, Washington DC, Long Beach/LA, San Francisco, Denver, Chicago, Detroit, Madison, Minneapolis, Nashville, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth and Rochester.
We found that music school or conservatory graduates were more likely to be earning more, working more, and were more likely to have … Read More »