Music Business

75% of artists in the US and UK are losing money on music releases

A recent survey revealed that most musicians are not finding the streaming success they’d hoped for. Bobby Owsinki looks at why.

by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0

Being an artist has always been difficult, but it may be even more so today since there are far fewer paying gigs than ever before. When it comes to releasing music though, for the most part that’s always been a losing proposition for indie artists. This fact was brought home by a survey that found that 75% of artists in the U.S. and U.K. lose money on their music releases.

According to Pirate, “91% of artists who took part in the survey promote their music independently, without the support of a label or manager. 75% of musicians who spend money on promoting their releases, spend more than they make from streams, sales, syncs and other music revenue streams combined. Still, asked whether they would create visuals to support their next release, 56% of artists said they would, 76% of which planned to make a traditional music video.”

Social media is important to artists, with Instagram being the most important for 88% of them, followed by YouTube (69%), Facebook (58%) and TikTok (42%, which is another surprise). 58% use their personal accounts to promote their music, but many get burned out from the constant need to feed the social promotional machine. As a result, 51% have taken a break from social media at some point during their career.

Short form videos are becoming more and more important to an artist’s promotional strategy, but not all artists are taking advantage of the art form. In fact, 36% aren’t sure that they would add one to their Spotify releases now that it’s possible (30 second videos in the “Clips” feature). 32% said they are or will be using the feature, and only 16% said they wouldn’t consider it. Surprisingly, 13% of the artists surveyed said they didn’t release their music on Spotify.

One of the pushback to Spotify Clips and releases on TikTok is the time involved to create content and the constant need to create more and more content. Making music is a lot of work, but even more creative energy is being taken up creating social videos for promotion. For some artists, this is just too much.

I’m actually surprised that only 75% of artists lose money on music releases. My guess would have been around 90%, so it seems like progress that there are so many at least breaking even from their art. The problem is that it takes more work than ever to do so.

Bobby Owsinski is a producer/engineer, author, blogger, podcaster, and coach. He has authored 24 books on recording, music, the music business and social media.

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