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Musicians’ earnings 
from digital platforms 
Kristin Thomson, Future of Music Coalition @kristinthomson
How have these changes impacted 
musicians’ ability to generate revenue 
based on their creative work? 
money.futureofmusic.org/about-the-project/
Source: RIAA via Future of the Music Business
Research question 
What percentage of musicians’ 
income comes from each possible 
revenue source? 
money.futureofmusic.org/research-questions/
42 revenue streams 
Mechanical royalties 
Streaming mechanicals 
Mechanicals for cloud storage, lockers 
Commissions 
Composing original works for broadcast 
Sheet music 
Lyric display 
Label advances 
Label support 
Retail sales 
Sales at shows 
Digital downloads 
Cloud storage payments 
Digital performance royalties 
Interactive service payments 
YouTube partner program 
Master use synchs 
Performances 
Salaried work 
Session work in studio 
Sesson work live 
money.futureofmusic.org/40-revenue-streams/
Prior to 1998 
Composition income Sound recording income 
Mechanical royalties 
Public performance royalties 
Synch licenses 
Jingle writing/composing for hire/ 
commissions 
Physical retail sales 
Physical mailorder 
Selling music at shows 
Master use synchs
Composition income Sound recording income 
Mechanical royalties 
Public performance royalties 
Synch licenses 
Jingle writing/composing for hire/ 
commissions 
Physical retail sales 
Physical mailorder 
Selling music at shows 
Master use synchs 
Digital download sales 
Digital performance royalties 
Interactive stream payments 
Cloud storage payments 
YouTube partner program 
+ 
+ 
Streaming mechanical royalties 
Mechanicals for cloud storage 
Lyric display royalties 
YouTube partner program
42 Revenue Streams 
Served as the genesis of 
the project, a framework 
for the research, and lives 
on as an outcome. 
money.futureofmusic.org/40-revenue-streams/
Revenue Streams: 
Existing, Expanded 
and New 
money.futureofmusic.org/revenue-streams-existing-expanded-new/
Qualitative and quantitative data collected 
from US-based musicians and composers via: 
• 80 in-person interviews 
• six financial case studies 
• over 5,300 completed surveys 
Collected between 2010 and the end of 2011. 
money.futureofmusic.org/findings/
Composition income Sound recording income 
Mechanical royalties 
Public performance royalties 
Synch licenses 
Jingle writing/composing for hire/ 
commissions 
Physical retail sales 
Physical mailorder 
Selling music at shows 
Master use synchs 
+ 
+ 
Streaming mechanical royalties 
Mechanicals for cloud storage 
Lyric display royalties 
YouTube partner program 
Digital download sales 
Digital performance royalties 
Interactive stream payments 
Cloud storage payments 
YouTube partner program
Q12: Survey respondents asked to 
allocate money among these categories: 
Composition income/being a composer 
Sound recording income/being a recording artist 
Performance income from guarantees/percent of door 
Salaried performer 
Session player (live and in studio) 
Brand-related income 
Knowledge of craft/teaching 
money.futureofmusic.org/revenue-types/
Aggregate revenue pie for all survey respondents 
6% 
of income in 
past 12 months 
derived from 
sound recordings 
N = 5371
Range of revenue derived from sound recordings 
for all survey respondents 
3552 
66% reported 0% of income 
1183 
from sound recordings 
237 144 53 73 20 7 27 16 9 44 
4000 
3500 
3000 
2500 
2000 
1500 
1000 
500 
0 
0% 1 to 10% 11 to 
20% 
21 to 
30% 
31 to 
40% 
41 to 
50% 
51 to 
60% 
61 to 
70% 
71 to 
80% 
81 to 
90% 
91 to 
99% 
100% 
Percent of music-related income derived from sound recordings in past 12 months. 
N=5371 
Number of survey respondents 
22% reported 1% - 10% of income 
from sound recordings
Revenue derived from sound recordings 
Income from sound recordings, 
in past 12 months, by primary genre 
1% 
4% 
by primary genre 
6% 
12% 
14% 
6% 
0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 
All (N=5371) 
Rock (N=569) 
Hip hop (N=93) 
Country (N=262) 
Jazz (N=872) 
Classical (N=1863) 
Percent of music-related income in past 12 months
Perceived changes in revenue from sound recordings 
over prior five years 
Changes in revenue from sound recordings over past five years 
Increased Stayed the same Decreased I don't know Not applicable 
16% 18% 22% 3% 41% 
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% 
Percent of survey respondents. N = 4447 
N=4447 
6% more report a decrease 
in revenue than an increase 
41% say changes in revenue 
from SR is “not applicable"
“The thing that’s decreased—this won’t 
surprise you—is the income from 
recording. By that I mean the royalties, 
the advances, all of the income streams 
that go along with the recordings. It’s all 
decreased significantly over the last 10 
years.” 
– Contemporary Chamber Ensemble
“Have you ever earned any income from....” 
13% 
17% 
35% 
62% 
79% 
74% 
Interactive streaming 
services 
Digital performance 
royalties 
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% 
Physical sales 
Sales at shows 
Digital downloads 
Interactive streaming services 
Digital performance royalties 
Synchronizations 
Percent of long-path respondents who are participating 
Physical sales 
Sales at shows 
Digital sales 
Synchs 
all long-path respondents
“Have you ever earned any income from....” 
16% 
full-time musicians 
19% 
37% 
66% 
76% 
79% 
Interactive streaming 
services 
Digital performance 
royalties 
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% 
Physical sales 
Sales at shows 
Digital downloads 
Interactive streaming services 
Digital performance royalties 
Synchronizations 
Percent of long-path respondents who are participating 
Physical sales 
Sales at shows 
Digital sales 
Synchs
“Have you ever earned any income from....” 
primary genre: rock 
31% 
16% 
36% 
72% 
83% 
74% 
Interactive streaming 
services 
Digital performance 
royalties 
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% 
Physical sales 
Sales at shows 
Digital downloads 
Interactive streaming services 
Digital performance royalties 
Synchronizations 
Percent of long-path respondents who are participating 
Physical sales 
Sales at shows 
Digital sales 
Synchs
Digital download sales 
“iTunes is a specific technological 
development that’s been helpful to 
revenue…” 
– Jazz manager
Digital download sales 
“Digital sales have boosted and that’s one 
thing instance where we’ve been lucky. 
Whoever those people are who buy 
iTunes singles seem to like us. So we have 
that going for us in that we sell a shit ton 
of those.” 
– Guitarist in platinum selling rock band
Sales at shows 
“What puts the money in our pockets 
from record sales is concerts.” 
- Contemporary chamber ensemble
Interactive service royalties 
“Yeah, it’s still small, it’s still not a lot of 
revenue but every month it gets better… 
or every quarter, whenever we get our 
statements, it’s better.” 
- Rock band manager
Digital performance royalties 
“...the royalties that are collected for 
featured artists for digital broadcast by 
SoundExchange has become a real 
source of income…” 
- Jazz publisher
Perceived changes in revenue from sound recordings 
Changes in revenue from sound recordings over past five years 
Increased Stayed the same Decreased I don't know Decline to answer 
45% 
39% 
50% 
58% 
26% 
33% 
24% 
30% 
28% 
20% 
31% 
20% 
33% 
14% 
34% 
17% 
11% 
49% 
4% 
5% 
4% 
11% 
11% 
2% 
0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% 
Physical sales (N=772) 
Sales at shows (N=818) 
Digital sales (N=646) 
Interactive streaming 
Interactive streaming services (N=362) 
services 
Digital performance 
Digital performance royalties (N=140) 
royalties 
Synchs (N=312) 
Percent of long-path respondents 
23% more 
report decrease 
even split 
41% more 
report increase 
39% more 
report increase 
31% more 
report increase 
5% more 
report increase 
over prior five years, by category 
Physical sales 
Sales at shows 
Digital sales 
Synchs
Technology has had a significant 
impact – both good and bad – on 
the sound recording landscape. 
money.futureofmusic.org/sound-recording-income/
Sound recordings are part of a 
bigger revenue picture. 
money.futureofmusic.org/sound-recording-income/
Jazz bandleader Chamber music group Professional orchestra member 
Live 
Performance 
77.8% 
Grants and 
Awards 
7.5% 
Record Label 
Advance 
5.0% 
Commission 
2.6% 
Sideman 
Record Sales 1.8% 
1.7% 
PRO Royalties 
0.8% 
Other 
2.8% 
Salary: 
orchestra 
64.8% 
Freelance: live 
27.3% 
Knowledge of 
Craft 
3.1% 
Freelance: 
studio 
Prize Money 1.9% 
1.8% 
Recording 
Income 
0.8% 
Radio 
Royalties 
0.3% 
Jazz sideman Indie rock composer/performer Background vocalist 
Sideman: 
Performance 
32.4% 
Live Performance 
15.0% 
Administrator 
14.9% 
Grant 
11.6% 
Teaching 
CD Sales on 
the Road 
0.4% 
Recording 
0.9% 
PRO Royalties 
Sideman: 10.5% 
Performance + 
Organizer 
8.0% 
2.1% 
Sideman: 
Recording 
4.3% 
Live 
Performance 
30.5% 
Salary 
29.8% 
CD Sales on 
the Road 
12.1% 
Publishing 
Royalties 
9.4% 
PRO 
Royalties 
6.2% 
Publishing 
Advance 
5.6% 
Record 
Sales 
3.5% 
TV 
Royalties 
0.4% 
Producer 
0.7% 
Session 
Musician 
1.5% 
money.futureofmusic.org/case-studies/
Future(s) for musicians. 
money.futureofmusic.org/sound-recording-income/
Data memos and 
financial case studies 
money.futureofmusic.org/findings/
Kristin Thomson | Future of Music Coalition 
@future_of_music 
@kristinthomson

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Digital revenue streams for sound recordings

  • 1. Musicians’ earnings from digital platforms Kristin Thomson, Future of Music Coalition @kristinthomson
  • 2.
  • 3. How have these changes impacted musicians’ ability to generate revenue based on their creative work? money.futureofmusic.org/about-the-project/
  • 4. Source: RIAA via Future of the Music Business
  • 5.
  • 6. Research question What percentage of musicians’ income comes from each possible revenue source? money.futureofmusic.org/research-questions/
  • 7. 42 revenue streams Mechanical royalties Streaming mechanicals Mechanicals for cloud storage, lockers Commissions Composing original works for broadcast Sheet music Lyric display Label advances Label support Retail sales Sales at shows Digital downloads Cloud storage payments Digital performance royalties Interactive service payments YouTube partner program Master use synchs Performances Salaried work Session work in studio Sesson work live money.futureofmusic.org/40-revenue-streams/
  • 8. Prior to 1998 Composition income Sound recording income Mechanical royalties Public performance royalties Synch licenses Jingle writing/composing for hire/ commissions Physical retail sales Physical mailorder Selling music at shows Master use synchs
  • 9. Composition income Sound recording income Mechanical royalties Public performance royalties Synch licenses Jingle writing/composing for hire/ commissions Physical retail sales Physical mailorder Selling music at shows Master use synchs Digital download sales Digital performance royalties Interactive stream payments Cloud storage payments YouTube partner program + + Streaming mechanical royalties Mechanicals for cloud storage Lyric display royalties YouTube partner program
  • 10. 42 Revenue Streams Served as the genesis of the project, a framework for the research, and lives on as an outcome. money.futureofmusic.org/40-revenue-streams/
  • 11. Revenue Streams: Existing, Expanded and New money.futureofmusic.org/revenue-streams-existing-expanded-new/
  • 12. Qualitative and quantitative data collected from US-based musicians and composers via: • 80 in-person interviews • six financial case studies • over 5,300 completed surveys Collected between 2010 and the end of 2011. money.futureofmusic.org/findings/
  • 13. Composition income Sound recording income Mechanical royalties Public performance royalties Synch licenses Jingle writing/composing for hire/ commissions Physical retail sales Physical mailorder Selling music at shows Master use synchs + + Streaming mechanical royalties Mechanicals for cloud storage Lyric display royalties YouTube partner program Digital download sales Digital performance royalties Interactive stream payments Cloud storage payments YouTube partner program
  • 14. Q12: Survey respondents asked to allocate money among these categories: Composition income/being a composer Sound recording income/being a recording artist Performance income from guarantees/percent of door Salaried performer Session player (live and in studio) Brand-related income Knowledge of craft/teaching money.futureofmusic.org/revenue-types/
  • 15. Aggregate revenue pie for all survey respondents 6% of income in past 12 months derived from sound recordings N = 5371
  • 16. Range of revenue derived from sound recordings for all survey respondents 3552 66% reported 0% of income 1183 from sound recordings 237 144 53 73 20 7 27 16 9 44 4000 3500 3000 2500 2000 1500 1000 500 0 0% 1 to 10% 11 to 20% 21 to 30% 31 to 40% 41 to 50% 51 to 60% 61 to 70% 71 to 80% 81 to 90% 91 to 99% 100% Percent of music-related income derived from sound recordings in past 12 months. N=5371 Number of survey respondents 22% reported 1% - 10% of income from sound recordings
  • 17. Revenue derived from sound recordings Income from sound recordings, in past 12 months, by primary genre 1% 4% by primary genre 6% 12% 14% 6% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% All (N=5371) Rock (N=569) Hip hop (N=93) Country (N=262) Jazz (N=872) Classical (N=1863) Percent of music-related income in past 12 months
  • 18. Perceived changes in revenue from sound recordings over prior five years Changes in revenue from sound recordings over past five years Increased Stayed the same Decreased I don't know Not applicable 16% 18% 22% 3% 41% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Percent of survey respondents. N = 4447 N=4447 6% more report a decrease in revenue than an increase 41% say changes in revenue from SR is “not applicable"
  • 19. “The thing that’s decreased—this won’t surprise you—is the income from recording. By that I mean the royalties, the advances, all of the income streams that go along with the recordings. It’s all decreased significantly over the last 10 years.” – Contemporary Chamber Ensemble
  • 20. “Have you ever earned any income from....” 13% 17% 35% 62% 79% 74% Interactive streaming services Digital performance royalties 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Physical sales Sales at shows Digital downloads Interactive streaming services Digital performance royalties Synchronizations Percent of long-path respondents who are participating Physical sales Sales at shows Digital sales Synchs all long-path respondents
  • 21. “Have you ever earned any income from....” 16% full-time musicians 19% 37% 66% 76% 79% Interactive streaming services Digital performance royalties 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Physical sales Sales at shows Digital downloads Interactive streaming services Digital performance royalties Synchronizations Percent of long-path respondents who are participating Physical sales Sales at shows Digital sales Synchs
  • 22. “Have you ever earned any income from....” primary genre: rock 31% 16% 36% 72% 83% 74% Interactive streaming services Digital performance royalties 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Physical sales Sales at shows Digital downloads Interactive streaming services Digital performance royalties Synchronizations Percent of long-path respondents who are participating Physical sales Sales at shows Digital sales Synchs
  • 23. Digital download sales “iTunes is a specific technological development that’s been helpful to revenue…” – Jazz manager
  • 24. Digital download sales “Digital sales have boosted and that’s one thing instance where we’ve been lucky. Whoever those people are who buy iTunes singles seem to like us. So we have that going for us in that we sell a shit ton of those.” – Guitarist in platinum selling rock band
  • 25. Sales at shows “What puts the money in our pockets from record sales is concerts.” - Contemporary chamber ensemble
  • 26. Interactive service royalties “Yeah, it’s still small, it’s still not a lot of revenue but every month it gets better… or every quarter, whenever we get our statements, it’s better.” - Rock band manager
  • 27. Digital performance royalties “...the royalties that are collected for featured artists for digital broadcast by SoundExchange has become a real source of income…” - Jazz publisher
  • 28. Perceived changes in revenue from sound recordings Changes in revenue from sound recordings over past five years Increased Stayed the same Decreased I don't know Decline to answer 45% 39% 50% 58% 26% 33% 24% 30% 28% 20% 31% 20% 33% 14% 34% 17% 11% 49% 4% 5% 4% 11% 11% 2% 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Physical sales (N=772) Sales at shows (N=818) Digital sales (N=646) Interactive streaming Interactive streaming services (N=362) services Digital performance Digital performance royalties (N=140) royalties Synchs (N=312) Percent of long-path respondents 23% more report decrease even split 41% more report increase 39% more report increase 31% more report increase 5% more report increase over prior five years, by category Physical sales Sales at shows Digital sales Synchs
  • 29. Technology has had a significant impact – both good and bad – on the sound recording landscape. money.futureofmusic.org/sound-recording-income/
  • 30. Sound recordings are part of a bigger revenue picture. money.futureofmusic.org/sound-recording-income/
  • 31. Jazz bandleader Chamber music group Professional orchestra member Live Performance 77.8% Grants and Awards 7.5% Record Label Advance 5.0% Commission 2.6% Sideman Record Sales 1.8% 1.7% PRO Royalties 0.8% Other 2.8% Salary: orchestra 64.8% Freelance: live 27.3% Knowledge of Craft 3.1% Freelance: studio Prize Money 1.9% 1.8% Recording Income 0.8% Radio Royalties 0.3% Jazz sideman Indie rock composer/performer Background vocalist Sideman: Performance 32.4% Live Performance 15.0% Administrator 14.9% Grant 11.6% Teaching CD Sales on the Road 0.4% Recording 0.9% PRO Royalties Sideman: 10.5% Performance + Organizer 8.0% 2.1% Sideman: Recording 4.3% Live Performance 30.5% Salary 29.8% CD Sales on the Road 12.1% Publishing Royalties 9.4% PRO Royalties 6.2% Publishing Advance 5.6% Record Sales 3.5% TV Royalties 0.4% Producer 0.7% Session Musician 1.5% money.futureofmusic.org/case-studies/
  • 32. Future(s) for musicians. money.futureofmusic.org/sound-recording-income/
  • 33. Data memos and financial case studies money.futureofmusic.org/findings/
  • 34. Kristin Thomson | Future of Music Coalition @future_of_music @kristinthomson