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.
This data memo presents a snapshot of nearly 900 jazz musicians who participated in the Money from Music Survey in 2011, the first comprehensive assessment of jazz musicians in the US since “Changing the Beat.” After presenting basic demographic information, this memo provides data about jazz musician’s experience, income, and feelings about technology, and also compares the jazz population to survey takers from other genres. This memo also takes a closer look at the differences between jazz musicians who are members of the American Federation of Musicians (AFM) and those who are not, and the relationship that AFM membership has with income.
When looking at the Artist’s gross revenue, we note 72.3% of his income is tied to live performance, whether it’s live performance fees or CD sales at shows. He is completely dependent on touring for his income.
We look at the Artist’s income by band and see that while he is an active member of four bands in addition to his solo work, 94% of his gross income comes from one Main Band and his own solo work.
Unlike the Professional Orchestra Player, who is also a salaried musician, the Artist also writes for the group that pays him a salary, and that provides 21% of his income in addition to his salary.
When examining income versus expenses, we note certain roles, like salaried, sideman or teaching work (approximately 31% of his income from 2008-2011) have few expenses. The Artist is able to use that income to invest in his own solo work, in lieu of being beholden to a label, publisher, or tour sponsor.
Like many entrepreneurial small businesses, his net income fluctuates widely from year to year. Anecdotally, his gross income appears to roughly track with the growth of his reputation during this period.
When looking at his gross income, we see that live performance as a leader makes up 77.8% of his income. In addition to his work as a leader, he also earns a steady income each year as a composer, sideman, and teacher.
When looking at his net v gross, Jazz Bandleader’s expenses are high – 80% of his income goes to pay touring expenses, sidemen, managers fees and other expenses. But he is still profits from touring. His net recording income fluctuates from year to year. Some years he loses money on recording. From 2006-2011 he nets a modest recording income.
Examining the artist’s gross income by role reinforces that his recording money fluctuates depending on what years he receives record advances. We also see that roughly 8% of his income is initiated by someone other than the Jazz Bandleader or his team.
Looking at gross income by territory, we see that he is dependent on non US markets for about 44% of his performance income.
We see a similar trend in his PRO Royalties breakdown by territory, that non-US royalties are a significant portion of his PRO royalty income. When looking at his income by album, we see that his compositions continue to earn money for years after the records are released.
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.