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Over the past eleven years, all of us have witnessed (and some of us have facilitated) drastic and profound changes in the music industry. Digital recording studios, aggregators, online music stores, on-demand streaming services, webcasting stations and satellite radio; each has done its part to reduce the cost barriers to the creation, production, distribution and sale of music. And everything from social networks to blogs to Twitter feeds now help musicians connect with fans.

Many observers have characterised these structural changes to the music business as positive improvements for musicians, particularly when compared with the music industry of yore. While it’s true that musicians’ access to the marketplace has greatly improved, there has been no systematic attempt to understand if and how artists’ ability to generate revenue based on their creative work has changed in this new environment.

This is why, in 2010, the US-based nonprofit Future of Music Coalition (FMC) launched the Artist Revenue Streams (ARS) project, a multi-method research initiative to assess if and how musicians’ revenue streams are changing in this new music landscape.

Artist Revenue Streams is collecting information from a diverse set of US-based musicians and composers about the ways that they are currently generating income from their compositions, recordings, performances or brand, and whether this has changed over the past ten years.

We seek to find out:

  • what percentage of musicians’ income comes from each possible revenue source?
  • what is the ratio among different sources, whether it be royalties, money from gigs, t-shirt sales, synch licensing fees or support from fans?
  • has the ratio changed over time and, if so, what are the factors that have influenced these changes?

Over the past year, we’ve conducted more than 70 in-person interviews with 25 different musician types. We’ve also developed financial case studies that illustrate the annual revenue pie charts and time series revenue streams for a range of creators. And, from September to October 2011, FMC conducted an enormous, wide-ranging online survey that was answered by more than 5,000 US musicians and composers.

FMC will begin to roll out results from this multi-method, cross-genre research project in 2012, with a special release at midem.

At midem’s Visionary Monday, as the project’s co-director, I will give attendees an exclusive preview of what FMC’s research findings tell us about musicians’ evolving relationship with sponsors and brands, and how some artists are leveraging their own brand to support their work and connect with fans.

We look forward to sharing this exclusive and insightful data with you in Cannes later this month.

Thomson addresses midem’s Visionary Monday (January 30) at 11.30. Full session details here.

 


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About Author

James Martin

James Martin is Head of Social Media for Midem organisers Reed MIDEM. This includes defining and rolling out Midem's social media strategy, editing midemblog, influencer outreach, developing Midem's fanbase of 75,000+ music professionals and more.

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