Case Study On How An Indie-Rock Composer Musician Makes Money

from the breaking-it-down dept

We've talked about the Future of Music Coalition's excellent Artist Revenue Streams project for a while now, and over the last few months they've been releasing more and more results from the project. At some point in the future I'll have to dig more into some of the earlier results, but I thought it was interesting that at SXSW they released some specific financial case studies on five (anonymous) musicians in particular, digging with great detail into how they make money. I found the "indie rock composer-performer" case study particularly interesting, given some of the regular debates around here.

While this is just one performer, and clearly not a "representative sample" or even a composite sample of how such musicians make money, there's still plenty to be learned from the report. What comes across is that it certainly takes work, but an indie artist such as this guy has been able to increase both his earnings and his profit over the last four years. Of course, that doesn't mean that each of his multiple revenue streams was increasing, but that he was continually altering his approach to maximize his own revenue and net income. For example, after a few years of relying heavily on income from one band that he was in (and he's in a few), he's been able to successfully shift to being a solo artist. Of course, the revenue shift there is pretty clear. While he made a salary from the previous band, as a solo artist, a large chunk of his revenue now comes from live performances:
One thing that struck me as interesting, and which corroborates similar stories I've been hearing from other artists, is that while touring can be tough, the ability to "tour smarter" these days means that it can be profitable. Frequently, critics insist that touring can only be profitable for the largest bands, but we keep hearing otherwise, and this report suggests something similar. Yes, there is significant expense involved in touring, but it can be done well and profitably. Either way, the entire case study is worth a read.

Filed Under: business models, case studies, independent musicians, revenue streams
Companies: future of music coalition


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 31 Mar 2012 @ 2:07am

    It seems like, contrary to what you have been pushing here, that the live performance part appears to be almost a losing battle. The money isn't being made there. Composing and recording is still very profitable, and really the only bright spot is perhaps merchandise.

    However, merchandise is one of those areas that is probably the most fickle, and the most likely to be subject to market exhaustion. Basically, we only have so much space for t-shirts, knick-knacks, and take homes from shows. At some point, the market for all of this stuff is likely to go stale, as too many people will be offering too much stuff all of the time.

    It paints a bit of a gloomy picture really - if the recording side income disappears or shrinks anymore, these artists will find themselves working a grindstone existence on the live side, where the net appears to be very small.

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