Thank you for considering participating in the interview phase of our research study. We are currently looking for a handful of musicians and songwriters to take part in in-person interviews and to share financial documents with us. Below are some frequently asked questions.
What kind of information
are you looking for?
In addition to the interview, we’re interested in reviewing any financial documents you might have – profit/loss statements from the past 10 years, ASCAP/BMI/SESAC statements, record label royalty reports, information you use to put together your tax returns, SoundExchange statements, Quicken or Quickbooks files, CD Baby reports, etc. Basically any information that will help us understand your income streams.
We know this is very sensitive information, and we will treat it with the utmost confidence. We are NOT interested in reporting the numbers – we’re simply interested in the ratios between different revenue streams, and whether those ratios have changed over time for you. For example, are you making more on licensing, or less on merch, than you were 10 years ago?
What will you do with my
We’re going to take the information gathered during the interview, and build what we’re calling “revenue pies” that show how each artists’ revenue is allocated among different revenue streams each year. For those who have multiple years of data, we will create a time series chart as well. Anything we generate, we’ll share with you. If we're able to collect enough data, we also hope to be able to display comparative data from other musicians.
Who else are you approaching?
We are hoping to paint a broad picture of the revenue make up for composers and performers, so we’re asking composers and performers from different genres, and at different stages in their careers to participate. In our pilot phase, we reached out to sidemen, symphony composers, platinum selling rock bands, hip hop collage artists, string quartets, and jazz soloists. Many are coming to us as referrals from our networks. If you have someone to recommend, we’d love to meet them.
don’t have an accountant
or business manager, and
that is a lot for me to
We are happy to do the organizing for you. You can give us a pile or a box of papers for example – and it’s easy for us to pull what we need from it and send all the information back to you neatly organized. We can come to your home to pick it up and ship it back to you. Or, if you can’t do it for the past 4-10 years, do you think you can give us information from the last year? Even seeing your taxes and information from 2009 can be helpful – because we can build a current pie from that information.
I’m not sure I’m
a good example
The deeper we look into this area, the clearer it becomes that there is no typical musician or composer. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misleading information out there, and journalists and pundits frequently try to generalize or suggest there is an average experience with respect to artist income – almost always without any data to back them up. We are hoping to counter this information and provide policymakers – and the industry – with a new perspective and some honest and thought-provoking data.
What are you expecting
to prove with this information?
FMC isn’t out to “prove” anything. Like all researchers, we have hypotheses that we’re testing. We don’t know the outcome of the research, so it’s hard to say what the conclusions will be.
We are clear about why we think this work is important. There have been meteoric transformations in how musicians create and distribute their music over the past ten years, and significant disruptions to the traditional music industry business model. Many observers are quick to categorize these structural changes as positive improvements for musicians across the board, but we think this is painting with too broad a brush. To this point, measurements about the effect of these new technologies on musicians’ ability to make a living have either been anecdotal or speculative. Even the most esteemed books about copyright in the digital age are largely based on theory, and lack qualitative data.
FMC’s research goal is to examine the issue from many different musicians’ perspectives, so we can get a more robust and realistic sense of what it’s like to be a working musician in the 21st century. FMC believes that this proposed research is essential to understanding how changes in the music landscape have really affected musicians, and how they could affect the arts and culture field in general, that will inform the development of successful models in the future.
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