Musicians’ Teammates and their Effect on Earnings

Posted on April 17th, 2012 by Kristin Thomson in What We're Learning. 4 Comments

Publishing income by team

The final batch of slides examined the impact of certain team members on earning capacity. We started with income earned by compositions.  The top bar shows that, in aggregate, income derived by compositions accounted for 6% of our survey respondents’ income in the past twelve months (N=5371). But respondents who said they had a paid/contracted relationship with a publisher, or an attorney, or a record label were deriving twice to three times as much income from compositions.


Sound recording income by team

Same goes with sound recordings.  In aggregate, income from sound recordings made up about 6% of all respondents’ income (N=5371).  But for those with a record label or webmaster, that percentage is doubled.


Performance income by team

And, finally, which team members had an impact on income earned from performances? Booking agent leads the pack, with a significant increase in income from live performances over those who do not have a booking agent. The fact that a soundperson is next on the list probably doesn’t mean the soundperson leads to more money – it’s the reverse – they’re already making enough money from live performance that they can afford to take out a sound person.



Can artists do the DIY thing? Yes, they can. There are all sorts of technologies and services out there to facilitate it.  But this might be your new job description…

Uncredited slide, courtesy of Erin Potts

So, what about the opposite scenario: should musicians simply farm out all of this work so they can focus on the music? The data above suggests that some teammates make a positive difference to some artists. But take these findings with a dose of reality — there are many instances where musicians have been either deceived or led down the primrose path by potential partners. Choosing the right partners and teammates takes research and a full understanding of the risks and benefits. And, even then, there’s no guarantee that good partners will make you successful.

A couple of final thoughts based on this team data:

  1. Technology acts as a double edged sword. Technologies have empowered music creators. They have created efficiencies, and given more music creators access to the music marketplace. But, they’ve also created new work and additional responsibilities, whether it’s managing an online presence or self-releasing your music digitally.
  2. Many musicians need – and benefit from – teammates, but they need to be chosen carefully. Though it varies from artist to artist what’s important, the survey data suggests the difference in career structure and earnings that specific team members can make. Yes, doing it all yourself is technically possible, but artists need to be smart and understand where team members represent a net positive, or can increase an artists’ capacity. The equation will be unique to each musician, but understanding that various teammates could have an impact on earnings is important.

We encourage you to take a deeper look at our findings, and sign up to receive word about our future releases where we will continue the conversation about how musicians and composers’ revenue streams are changing in the 21st century.

4 responses to “Musicians’ Teammates and their Effect on Earnings”

  1. […] detailed interviews with musicians and the examination of actual tax filings and conducted by the Future of Music Coalition. The results revealed that those musicians who continue to do it on their own after breaking […]

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