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 »
On Tuesday, May 9, 2012, Artist Revenue Streams co-director Kristin Thomson took part in the NARM’s Music Biz 2012 Conference in Los Angeles, CA. Drawing upon Money from Music survey findings and artist interviews, she presented some findings about musicians’ income from the sale, license or performance of sound recordings.
She started the presentation by describing the project’s methodology. The research involves three data collection methods: in person interviews with about 80 different US-based musicians and composers, financial case studies based on verifiable bookkeeping data, and a widely distributed online survey.
She also underscored that this study is not about label market share, or consumer spending, or measuring an artists’ social graph. It’s about individual musicians’ earning capacity. It’s about what they end up putting in their pocket, and how it’s changing over time.
Whether on vinyl, cassette, CD … Read More »
For many decades, commercial radio airplay has been highly coveted by songwriters, musicians and record labels alike because of its enormous promotional power and reach. It has been well understood that consistent commercial airplay accompanies significant record sales, generates public performance royalties, and burnishes a recording artist’s profile.
But there have been major shifts in the radio landscape in the past ten years. We’ve seen the development of both satellite radio and webcasting as alternatives to traditional AM and FM broadcast radio, models that have a lot more flexibility about what types of music they play, and how much control they give the listener over what they hear. We’ve also witnessed the development of a stronger noncommercial radio sector, led by NPR Music and certain powerhouse noncommercial AAA stations like KEXP, KCRW, WXPN, and The Current.
There has also been a shift … Read More »
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, February 13, 2012, FMC’s Kristin Thomson participated in the tenth San Fran MusicTech Summit in San Fransisco, CA. Drawing upon Money from Music survey findings and artist interviews, we presented some data about the impact of music/technologies on musicians’ careers and their earning capacity.
We started the presentation by describing the project’s methodology. The research involves three data collection methods: in person interviews with about 80 different musicians and composers, financial case studies based on verifiable bookkeeping data, and a widely distributed online survey.
We also underscored that this study is not about label market share, or consumer spending, or measuring an artists’ social graph. It’s about individual musicians’ earning capacity. It’s about what they end up putting in their pocket, and how it’s changing over time.