A few days ago, we launched a series of blog posts that are using Artist Revenue Streams to examine some of the common assumptions about musicians and income.
In part 2, we’re looking at the assumption that musicians make all of their money from live shows/touring. This is largely based on how the public interacts with musicians. They buy tickets to shows, and they see the size of crowds at concerts. Using basic math, a music fan can estimate how much a concert might be grossing. Coupled with the widely reported decline in album sales and the impact of unauthorized filesharing, seeing bands constantly on tour and even impressive stagecraft, many music fans assume that live performance money is musicians’ bread and butter.
The recent Emily White - David Lowery debate about musicians’ income and downloading led to a torrent of other blog posts and articles about the topic. As an example, some readers’ comments in this blog post reflected this common assumption about income from touring:
Once in a while, the conversations about musicians’ revenue streams move beyond the assumption and towards insisting that this is the only way musicians should be making money in the post-Napster era. As an example, here’s a reader comment from a recent Huffington Post article about Pandora’s rates and payments to artists.
Let’s get beyond the comments and look at some data.
According to our quantitative data, income from live performance/touring is a significant and important revenue stream for musicians who perform, accounting for 28% of the aggregate gross income of all survey respondents, with some variation for sub-populations by role or genre.
These percentages were even higher for some of our interviewees, as well as our financial case study subjects. But, it is rarely their only source of music-related income. Indeed, less than 13% of respondents rely exclusively on income from live performance, being a salaried player, or a combination of both.
Touring itself has its own caveats; touring costs money, it’s not very scalable, and it requires constant output. And, for some musicians, playing live is simply not part of their career structure.
Check out the blog post for more charts and genre-specific details. kristin [at] futureofmusic [dot] org (subject: Mythbusting%20request) (And let us know) what other assumptions we should try to examine with data.
Up next in the Mythbusting series, an examination of income from sound recordings.