The first results of the Future of Music Coalition's Artist Revenue Stream project http://futureofmusic.org/article/research/artist-revenue-streams show the average musician gets more from fans and grants than merchandise and corporate sponsorships. The cross-genre research project collected data on over 5,000 US-based musicians and composers. A "first look" white paper was prepared for MIDEM and released Monday.
Twelve percent of artists surveyed reported making any money from merchandise in the previous 12 months. Overall, merchandise accounted for just 2 percent of all respondents' income. Rock artists reported the highest share of merchandise revenue as a percent of total revenue (6 percent) followed by hip hop artists (5 percent) and country artists (2 percent). Merchandise accounted for less than 1 percent of jazz and classical artists' income.
Sponsorship revenue is almost nonexistent for the group of musicians surveyed. Corporate sponsorships accounted for 4 percent of all artists' income, although the FMC notes some corporate backing is non-financial and thus the value was not reported. This is not a surprise. Corporate dollars are distributed to relatively few artists (the more popular) and in relatively few genres (pop, hip hop, R&B, rock, country).
The survey is a reminder that musicians are a diverse group of professionals. Many professionals who don't sell T-shirts or attract corporate interest took part in the survey: songwriters, composers, salaried orchestra players, session musicians and teachers. This diverse group of musicians relies more on non-traditional revenue streams: Funding received directly from fans accounted for 7 percent and grants made up 10 percent of artists' income.
The music business looks different from the top, however. Because merchandise plays an important role for more successful artists, merchandising companies have been vertically integrated into larger companies (Bravado and Universal Music Group, Musictoday and Live Nation). Corporate brands are doing multi-million-dollar deals with successful artists. Artists' contracts with record labels in some cases have evolved to incorporate these changes by giving labels a cut of these revenue streams.
The 5,000-plus musicians who took part in the survey include full- and part-time musicians, teachers, session musicians, TV and film composers and songwriters. The median gross income of the respondents was $55,561 (well above the US median income of $39,000, notes the FMC). The estimated amount of average music-related income was $34,455. Only 42 percent of respondents derive all of their income from music.