Graphic: How Much Can Musicians Earn Online?

image from mashable.comIt's no secret that the amount of money artists are earning from recorded music is declining.  But by how much? And as digital sales replace physical and streaming music gains traction do the numbers shift in the artist's favor?  You can catch a glimpse of the future above, but the big picture becomes much clearer in the much larger and more in depth graphic after the jump below which was created by David McCandless of Information Is Beautiful from a spreadsheet of data.

image from s3.amazonaws.com

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  1. Oh yay! Another beautifully drawn out illustration showing that I’m broke and probably gonna stay that way! Is the pink suppose to be my rosy cheek glow, Buzz Killington? 🙂

  2. … and not to mention if you have catalog that is owned by a label that pay you less for “new technology configurations.” I signed my first deal in 1995 and we know labels couldn’t foresee physical going away. Not saying this is bleak but…

  3. I saw this and did some research.
    Americans spend $28 billion per year on recorded music (3.7% of 5.3% of disposable income per music-buying person). If there are 500,000 U.S. semi- and professional recording musicians, that’s $61,000 for each of us, just for our recordings.
    We get less for our recordings lately because of ‘free’, but we can sell more – there are loads of internet radio stations, magazines, reviewers who are all hungry for content… free music lets your listeners connect with your music emotionally, and I think that’s what creates the ‘value’ and ‘brand’ marketers talk about. Essentially people are fair, most will pay for something they deem valuable. It’s getting them to pay attention to your stuff in a sea of music that’s the big task, and that belongs to you, not the above distributors.
    So get out there and get your $61K! Don’t let the big 3 have it all.

  4. Jez – Great comment. Can you share where you got your figures? I’d like to share the concept with others. You can do it here or bruce – at – skylineonline-dot-com

  5. having music on spotify is absolutely no different to having your music on myspace for the last 5 years where anyone could stream and listen to it for free, so I really don’t get the fuss. Use it to your advantage.
    Instead of getting hung up on ‘losing’ revenue to free/cheap streams, artists could actually spend that energy in realizing that those free/cheap streams are probably earning them a high number of potential new fans that might not have discovered their music otherwise.
    Then capitalize on that by releasing direct to fan goods that the new fan can’t obtain or even stream anywhere else. Like limited edition packages, and products, special versions of songs that they can only get by joining a mailing list, etc etc etc….

  6. I agree with Auditory Canvas; I simply look at it as posting my resume, Advertisements for my Skills, etc.
    When Clubs, AT BEST, pay a Band/ Musician the Same wages I made in 1975, and Record Companies, even while Dying, Rip You for Every Dime They Can, It seems that “Merchandising” is the Best Way to Compensate for Your Lost Wages, due to Free Arplay, and Less-than-Minimum-Wage Gigs.
    I’m Listening if ANYBODY has a better solution !!!!

  7. Have you fellas ever heard the saying, “if a tree falls in the woods and no one sees, or hears it, did it really fall?” Well, that’s the case with a lot of this music being made. Jez is right, people need to focus more in earning fans than being upset that there is so much free music out there. As an artist, I understand it’s painful to work so hard only to give the music away for free. However, because I have done such, I now have fans across the world that are willing to download m y music for a small fortune of $1-$5 (lol). You give in order to receive. The hard work will pay off in time. Dedication & patience is all it takes.

  8. Since Jez Ball has not returned with the basis for his figure that Americans spend $28 billion per year on recorded music:
    I speculate that Jez multiplied the USA population (307,000,000) by the widely reported claim that the average consumer buys 6 CDs ($90) per year. My calculator puts that at 27.6 billion.
    I think that’s a bit much. I don’t think that $90-per-year spending figure is for all USA people, including infants and the elderly.
    But we’re throwing knives blindfolded here…

  9. I agree with Auditory Canvas. For every track an artist gives away, the artist can collect valuable contact info and fan data if done in the right way (e.g. special versions of tracks that are only available against email).
    That then allows the artist to offer limited edition packages to these new fans. Those packages should only be made available in the artist’s “own” store so to cut out the middle man and keep the lion share of everything sold.
    A simplified example:
    * Artist sells a CD album, a downloadable version for instant gratification, a tshirt and a signed card as a limited edition offer only available in the artist’s store
    * Cost of goods c. $15
    * Retail price $39
    Artist needs to sell just under 50 such packages per month or less than 2 per day to make the above minimum wage. Still a lot but if as a result of giving away free tracks against email, the artist signs up 1,000 artists per month, then only around 5 in 100 new fans need to make the purchase (in other words just under 5%).

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