Guest Post: Artist Revenue Stream Survey -- The Importance of Being Data, by John Simson
Guest Post: Artist Revenue Stream Survey -- The Importance of Being Data, by John Simson

The Future of Music Coalition is undertaking a project that will answer two basic questions: what percentage of musicians' income comes from each possible revenue source and how has that changed over the last ten years? From September 6 to October 28, FMC will collect online responses to the survey which aims to assess and quantify all the ways an artist can make money - from concerts to publishing to related day jobs.

In addition to typical revenue sources such as recorded music sales, live shows and songwriting royalties, the Artist Revenue Stream project will touch upon other streams that play an important role in many artists' lives, such as commissioned works, litigation settlements, AFM/AFTRA payments, government grants and tour sponsorships.

The knowledge gained will help music advocacy groups better serve their constituents and will guide FOMC attempts to influence public policy. And it will give musicians and the industry a valuable snapshot into artist compensation in the digital age.

The FMC has already started doing artist interviews and financial case studies with artists willing to give access to their books. Both phases will continue during the survey. The final product will be a report -- both brief and long-form versions -- and additional case study information will be made available the FMC web site, according to project co-director Kristin Thomson.

But the soon-to-launch survey will allow the FMC to expand project to many different types of musicians as well as part-time musicians. "You think you have a big network, but you realize it's tiny compared to all the working musicians out there," says Thomson.

Former SoundExchange executive director John Simson is leading partner development on the project. His role is to help prepare the survey and reach out to various stakeholders in the industry like the Recording Academy, performing rights organizations and the Nashville Songwriters Guild. "We're working with pretty much everybody out there," he says.

The project's intention is to deliver deep insight into an area where little hard data exists. While SoundScan tracks recorded music sales and a few public music companies release audited financial statements, details on everyday, working musicians' careers are notably slim. "Anecdotes don't work," says Simson. "They make the business great, but you can't make public policy with them."