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.
There are a number of assumptions made about musicians and money. Some are repeated ad nausea, 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 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.
A recent series of blog posts about musicians, music, and income have found various writers claiming – each with a level of certainty – that musicians are making more money/less money today than in years past.
In the “musicians are making less money” camp are writers who focus on the disruptions in the sound recordings sales market. They not only point to the problems with piracy, but also the shift away from album sales to singles sales, both of which have diverted consumer dollars away from physical CD sales. Simple math suggests that musicians are making less on recorded music sales because an increasing amount of royalty payments are based on sales of 99 cent singles, not $15 albums. Or, even worse, consumers aren’t paying anything at all. We have written … Read More »