How Musicians Make Money
I’m starting to think that having local copies of my music is unnecessary. It’s already possible to subscribe to services like Zune, Rdio, and MOG and have almost every song ever made right at your fingertips. Movies are headed there too. How long are we really going to have physical discs laying around when we can just stream them?
But how does this business model work for the artists. There’s a great (1 year old) infographic showing what it takes for a musician to make minimum wage through various forms of music sales. They would need to sell 143 self-pressed CDs, 1229 albums on iTunes, or have 4 million plays on Spotify.
The subscription model clearly gives less money to individual artists, so maybe it really is too good to be true. But is it really? The graphic is a bit misleading. What artist sets out to make a living by having their music streamed from subscription services? A more realistic scenario is that an artist licenses their music for use in services like these to drive album sales and attendance at concerts. Those still generate as much money as they used to.
Music and movies have been and will continue to move to a new business model. It may not look exactly like these new subscription models, but we will have access to more music in more places than we ever have before. Somehow the artists will end up getting paid for what they do. They have the talent and we have the money. We just need to figure out the best way to combine those two.