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10 Careers In Music And How Much Money You Can Make 

10 Careers In Music And How Much Money You Can Make

When it comes to working in the music business, most people’s minds go to those performing on stage, but behind the curtain are a number of fulfilling, and often lucrative, jobs. Here we look at the top ten jobs in the music industry. 

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Guest post from Berklee Online 

When you think of a career in music, you might start with the performers who are center stage. But when you pull back the curtain, you’ll find people with an array of music business jobs and careers that help make performances possible. You have the people who coordinate and promote the music, the folks in the recording studios and on the soundboard who make the musical act sound topnotch, the writers who compose and arrange the music, and much more. 

There’s more to a career in music than just performance — it can involve one or many disciplines. The more versatile you are, the more opportunities you will have to work in the music business. 

Breaking into the music business is harder than other industries. Competition is high, but if you hone your craft, network with the right people, and put in the hard work, here are some music business careers to consider and what compensation you can expect out of them.* 

* Salary information is from the 2016 Edition of Music Careers Dollars and Cents by the Career Development Center at Berklee College of Music 

1. Music Producer 

 Want to be a jack of all trades? A producer understands both the creative and commercial side of the business and develops relationships with both musicians and the record label. A producer should create an environment that enables artists to create and express themselves. A producer also assists an artist’s recording project with many of the details, including choosing which material to record, interfacing with the recording engineer, adapting arrangements, balancing the recording budget, and influencing mixes. 

What to Learn: If you’re looking to become a music producer, consider learning about foundational audio and music concepts, start studying various types of software, and dive into what makes a good sound. To be a truly great producer, you’ll need to acquire knowledge in engineering and mixing. Look at the credits of your favorite albums: who produced them? Who engineered them? Find out what other albums these people produced, and get even further acquainted with their style. Read interviews with these people about their techniques. There isn’t one path to success here, but you can forge your own way as you develop the necessary skill set.  

What’s the Money Like? 

$25,000 – $1,000,000+  

 

2. Recording Engineer 

 An audio engineer is responsible for capturing sound and manipulating it in the studio. You’ll deal with both analog and digital audio, compressors, microphones, and signal flow—and typically combine both traditional and tech-savvy recording techniques to record music. You could also be responsible for organizing recording sessions and repairing any technical problems when they arise. And sometime you may catch the brunt of the producer or musicians if something goes wrong in recording that magic take! 

What to Learn: Become well-versed in multiple recording technologies and develop file management skills. Some jobs in sound engineering may require additional training in mixing and editing. You’ll also need to know how to solve problems, run recording sessions and take initiative. 

What’s the Money Like? 

$25,000 – $150,000+ 

 

 

 

3. Musician for Hire/Session Musician 

 As a session musician, you back and perform on another musician’s album or perform with various acts onstage. This means you have the freedom to dabble in multiple styles, genres, and sounds. You’ll interact, meet, and form relationships with a heap of other musicians. You may be asked to contribute to a recording session or join a band on tour. If you’re extremely proficient at your instrument, the path to becoming a successful session musician can be rewarding and even lead to a solo career. Before their solo careers, Stevie Ray Vaughan was a session musician for David Bowie, Sheryl Crow was a back-up singer for Michael Jackson, and Jimmy Page played in countless recording sessions. And some recording studios even have their own house bands. (See Standing in the Shadows of Motown, Muscle Shoals, and Twenty Feet From Stardom. Really! See these movies!) 

What to Learn: A successful session musician is a connoisseur of their instrument and has a solid reputation for their craft. You should be able to step into any musical arrangement to offer your skills and also be proficient and experienced at improvisation. Another necessity is to learn how to build a reliable network and solid relationships. You’ll want to have great communication skills and general industry knowledge. 

What’s the Money Like? 

Extremely wide range, $100 – $2,500 per day or up to $100,000+ 

The American Federation of Musicians (AFofM) specifies the minimum rate 

 

4. Artist Manager 

 An artist manager exists to create opportunities, connect, and propel the musical act forward. You have to wholeheartedly believe in your artist and help them build a strong and sustainable career through planning, organization, directing, and negotiating. You may not get all of the credit and adoration that the artist gets, but you’ll have to do as much—if not more—work! See that photo above? You probably recognize at least 80 percent of the people, and know their names. But how about the man in the center? That’s Brian Epstein, the manager of the Beatles during their rise to fame. Without the influence of Brian Epstein, it’s likely you’d never know the names John, Paul, George, and Ringo, much less know any of the music they made. 

What to Learn: Management and leadership skills are key here. Not only will you be streamlining and organizing multiple moving parts between musicians, publishers, and booking agents but you’ll also be making sales calls, negotiating contracts, and giving constructive criticism. 

What’s the Money Like? 

10 -50 percent of artist’s earnings 

$30,000 – $200,000 for a developing artist 

$2,000,000 – $10,000,000 for a mega successful artist 

 

5. Tour Manager 

As a tour manager, you’ll be involved in every aspect of a band’s career on the road. You’re the behind-the-scenes mastermind who has hands in every piece of transportation, accommodation, scheduling, and finances of a tour. You’ll make things run smoothly for everyone involved. You’ll need to have self-motivation and be okay with shouldering the band’s responsibilities—especially the financial ones. 

What to Learn: You’ll need to know the industry like the back of your hand. There are music business management programs you can study but you should also self-study tour logistics, accounting principles, and daily scheduling management. Get experience in different components of the live music industry and learn to anticipate and cater to needs while sticking to the schedule. To get a more thorough sense of what this job entails, read our profile on Berklee Online alum and Wilco tour manager Ashley ‘PK’ Mogayzel. 

What’s the Money Like? 

$2,500 – $10,000 per week for theater/arena-level touringBreaking into the music business is harder than other industries. Competition is high, but if you hone your craft, network with the right people, and put in hard work, here are some careers to consider and what compensation you can expect.… Click To Tweet 

 

6. Music Teacher 

Teaching can take on a variety of forms. You could teach in a school, a small music shop, or teach independently. You could teach theory or a specific instrument. You’ll also have freedom to choose which age range you’d like to teach—each one comes with its own advantages and obstacles. If you like encouraging people, sharing knowledge, and practicing patients, a career teaching music could be right for you. 

What to Learn: Your required education and background depends on which teaching path you’re most interested in. For example, teaching in a school will likely require more certifications than going down a self-employed route. You’ll certainly need to be proficient in the subject you’re teaching and feel confident giving lessons. 

What’s the Money Like? 

$30-$120 per hour for studio teacher/private instructor 

NOTE: Lesson fee should reflect amount of teaching experience and the going rate in a region. Be aware that it may take some time to build up a profitable clientele. Travel to a private student’s home may require an additional fee. 

$30,000-$71,181 for a public school music teacher (K-12) 

NOTE: Requires state certification. Schools are supported largely by property taxes so schools in wealthier communities are typically able to pay more. 

$43,140 -$67,360+ for an assistant professor (full-time on a tenure track) 

NOTE: Salary depends on the size of the institution, budget, and reputation of the teacher. At least a master’s degree is required, more often a PhD. 

 

7. Booking Agent 

 Your job here is to get the band onstage. Booking agents facilitate a lot of the logistics around live performances, including securing concert venues, negotiating deals, arranging technical equipment, and hospitality. You’ll work closely with management (of the artists and the venues) and event promoters and determine what an artist’s touring schedule will look like. 

What to Learn: A degree in music management, marketing, or accounting would help you prepare you for a career as a booking agent.  You’ll want to learn about contract negotiation, copyright law, sales, marketing, and event planning. Begin working in event promotion and administrative roles to understand the foundational elements of booking shows.  

What’s the Money Like? 

$20,000 – $3,000,000 

Commissions range, typically 10-20 percent of the act’s gross income per show. 

$50,000 for a developing artist 

$500,000 – $3,000,000 for a star 

$50,000 – $250,000/Booking Specialty Agent 

 

8. Publicist 

 A music publicist works closely with media outlets, marketers, and venues. Publicists ensure that their musicians’ concerts, releases, and announcements are covered by the media in a way that feeds positively into their public perception while increasing awareness of the artist. The good news is that you’ll see your hard work pay off in a very tangible way—whether that’s a sold-out show or a spot on the radio. It can be tough to break through to journalists in a media landscape that is increasingly cutting staff and eliminating outlets that cover music. This role is more than just PR—it’s about selling a story, building a network, managing a reputation, and staying ahead of the game. 

What to Learn: This is a communications and marketing-based role, so start there. Learn the basics of public relations strategy and develop your people skills. To become a publicist, you’ll have to network, be tenacious in your outreach efforts, and ask the right questions. Arm yourself with on-the-ground experience as well as writing, crisis communications, and publicity campaign development.  

What’s the Money Like? 

$500-$10,000 per month 

 

9. Composer 

 Composers aren’t just tied down to the classical music genre; they can write for film, TV, and video games. They can also write and arrange recorded or live music across genres. Regardless of which avenue you wish to pursue, you must have a masterful understanding of music theory, you must be able to really play one or many instruments, and have the technical capabilities to capture your compositions effectively, whether it be through music notation or recording. 

What to Learn: Formal education and experience are keys to success here. Composers are proficient in one or many instruments and have a deep understanding of music theory and arrangement. Being a great composer means understanding the technicalities and mechanics of music on multiple levels. Start learning composition software and begin practicing. There are event elements of sound engineering that can come in handy, like notation software and recording programs. 

What’s the Money Like? 

Composers are usually paid on a per-project basis. 

Television 

$1,500-$7,500+ for a 30-minute episode 

$2,000-$15,000+ for a 60-minute episode 

$2,000-$55,000+ for a TV movie 

Film Score Composer 

$0-$10,000+ for a student film 

$2,500-$500,000+ for an indie feature  

$35,000-$2mil+ for a studio feature  

Video Game Composer 

$30,000-$75,000+ for Creative Fee deal – interactive game (30 min. of music) 

$30,000-$60,000+ for Package Fee deal – interactive game (30 min. of music) – covers composing and all expenses 

$300-$600 per minute of finished music for casual games (creative fee only) 

 

10. Music Arranger 

A music arranger is responsible for taking a piece of written music and reorganizing it to achieve a new sound or goal. You might have a client ask you to take a pop piece and add a Latin rhythm, shorten or lengthen a piece, or change the key. Arranging is a specialized skill and those who pursue it can work as a freelancer or for a band or music organization. 

What to Learn: Music arrangement can be a single career or an added skill set as a writer and composer. An arranger, like a composer, also requires a deep understanding of music theory, different instrument groups and how they work with one another. Before learning about arranging, learn the fundamentals of music theory, composition, and the technical aspects involved. 

What’s the Money Like? 

$20,000-$43,000+

How Many Spotify Streams Are Necessary To Live Above The Poverty Line?  

How Many Spotify Streams Are Necessary To Live Above The Poverty Line? 

The royalties earned off of Spotify streams are notoriously low but do provide some income to artists. So just how many plays does it take for a musician to live above the poverty line? 

Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix 

Spotify streaming royalties often upset artists, but how many plays does a musician need to live above the poverty line? We did the math. 

The streaming wars are raging on. Spotify has more than one hundred million monthly subscribers worldwide, which places the platform far ahead of its peers, but Apple Music and Amazon Music are gaining millions of new users with each passing month. Whether or not the global economy can sustain the numerous streaming platforms won’t be decided for some time, but whether or not artists can survive the streaming economy is a hot topic that needs to be addressed. 

Any industry expert will tell you that musicians today have it easy. There are more avenues for exposure than ever, recording music is (or can be) cheap, and an increasing number of artists are finding success outside the traditional label system. It is theoretically possible for anyone with access to a laptop and the ability to convey a melody to become a digital sensation who has fans all over the world without the aid of big label money (though, to be fair, big label money still makes a sizable difference). 

Streaming payouts are a relatively new revenue stream for musicians. No one is suggesting artists survive on streaming royalties alone. Still, with physical media sales bottoming out and competition for tour revenue increasing, the money made from streaming can have a significant impact on an artist’s ability to develop, not to mention sustain themselves. 

Still, every other week someone goes viral online and builds an entire career of the profits made from streaming royalties. The majority of these overnight sensations are young and without families to support, but they still have the cost of living expenses that need to be met. That got us to thinking: How many streams does it take to survive on streaming revenue alone? 

According to the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE), the poverty line for single-person households is $11,770. If we ignore how that figure would be hard for anyone to live on in a major city (and most mid-size cities), then we can round up to $12,000 and use streaming revenue calculators to figure out how many Spotify streams someone would need to sustain themselves. 

At an average payout of $0.006 per song stream, a musician living in the United States needs 3,000,000 plays annually to have a gross income of $12,000. 

Of course, if the artist has a label deal the record company would get paid before the artist. Depending on the amount owed to the label, the artist may need millions of addition plays to see the same amount of income themselves. 

But what about people with families? The ASPE puts the poverty line for a family of four (2 adults, 2 children) at $24,250. Using the same average royalty rate, a musician would need 6,062,500 Spotify streams to earn that amount of gross income. 

These numbers get much bigger when the musician is part of a larger group. If a band has four members and all four have families where they were the sole source of income, the group would need to generate 24,250,000 Spotify streams to gross enough so each member’s family would be at or above the poverty line. 

Again, no one is saying an artist should survive on streaming royalties alone. Some will be able to make it work, especially if they have a large following and low overhead, but most will need to create as many revenue streams as possible to survive. The key to a long career in music today is through the development of a community around an artist and their work that promotes purchasing merch, physical media, and concert tickets. That has always been true, and likely won’t change anytime soon.

Funding For Musicians: U.S. Music Grants 

Funding For Musicians: U.S. Music Grants

It’s easier than ever to make music and share it with the world. But being able to do it full-time is another story. 

There are lots of different ways musicians can make money, but one source of funding for music projects often overlooked is grants. 

Guest post by Dave Cool 

What are music grants? 

Grants are an excellent form of funding for musicians. There are dozens of music grant organizations in the USA that regularly award cash to serious artists, allowing the recipients to focus entirely on furthering their music career in some way. And unlike loans, they don’t need to be paid back. 

Sound too good to be true? These funding opportunities are out there for the taking, but they’re very competitive. You’ll need to research which ones are a good fit for you, find out when the deadlines are, and set aside plenty of time for the application process, which can be intense. 

Some music grant organizations exist to help out fledgling artists, while others support more established artists. Depending on the type of grant, the funding could be used to get a new music project off the ground, record an album, or tour. Some organizations place no restrictions at all on how you can use the money. 

Here are seven of our favorite music grants available in the United States to get your wheels turning. But definitely check out local opportunities in your own city or state, you never know what you might come across. 

1. New Music USA grants 

Region: United States 

New Music USA’s mission is to support and promote all kinds of musical creativity in the United States. They offer funding for music projects, support for small ensembles and DIY venues, and even provide composer-in-residence positions in orchestras. Learn more about New Music USA’s grants. 

2. Foundation for Contemporary Arts 

Region: United States 

The Foundation for Contemporary Arts was created by artists in 1963 to promote the innovative work of their peers. Today, they offer generous grants to nominated artists, as well as emergency grants ranging from $500 to $2,500 that any artist urgently in need of funding can apply for. Learn more about the Foundation for Contemporary Arts’ grant programs. 

3. The Alice M. Ditson Fund 

Region: United States 

Since 1940, the Alice M. Ditson Fund has awarded over 2,000 grants in support of contemporary American classical concert music. They offer funding for recording projects, with the specific goal of providing wider exposure for the music of younger, relatively unknown American composers. Learn more. 

4. New York Foundation for the Arts 

Region: New York 

The New York Foundation for the Arts has a 32-year history of supporting artists at all stages of their careers. Unlike grants that fund specific projects, the unrestricted $7,000 fellowships “are intended to fund an artist’s vision or voice, regardless of the level of his or her artistic development.” You can find up-to-date application information here. 

5. Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation 

Region: Delaware, D.C., Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, the US Virgin Islands, Virginia, and West Virginia 

The Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation was established to support multi-state arts programming and has since expanded to include initiatives in other parts of the United States. The grants provide support for artists looking to create, tour, build an audience, and develop their careers. 

You can explore MAAF’s unique artist grant programs here, which include creative fellowships, funding to perform at international festivals, and even a French-American cultural exchange program for jazz artists. 

6. Tennessee Arts Commission 

Region: Tennessee 

With a mission to “cultivate the arts for the benefit of all Tennesseans and their communities,” the Tennessee Arts Commission offers a wide variety of annual grants for individuals, projects, arts education, and more. 

The Individual Artist Fellowship awards $5,000 to professional artists of all stripes, including composers. There are no specific requirements for how you use the money, but you do have to already be making a living off of music to qualify for the fellowship. More details here. 

7. COLA Individual Artist Fellowship 

Region: Los Angeles, CA 

This fellowship is specifically for accomplished artists who either live in Los Angeles or have presented their work in the city for at least three years. The Department of Cultural Affairs grants $10,000 per artist for the creation of innovative new work. Check out the eligibility details and application guidelines here

Even if you don’t get the music grant you wanted the first time around, applying for funding is still a valuable process to go through. As you continue honing your craft and refining your unique artist voice, your applications will become stronger and stronger.

2020 Colorado Music Educators Conference Presentation 

I am looking forward to speaking at the 2020 Colorado Music Educators Conference at the Broadmoor Hotel and Convention Center in January.

My topic: Makin a Living Making Music: Entrepreneurial Opportunities in the New Music and Entertainment Industry.

Click here to view the CMEA Conference Schedule

Today’s music industry is the wild, wild, west! The gatekeepers who once determined the fate of an artist’s success, the projects that would be recorded, the songs to be released, the bands that would take the stage, no longer wield their career crushing power. To succeed in today’s music industry, musicians need to expand their skillset from being musicians alone to being musical entrepreneurs. This session, Making a Living Making Music: Entrepreneurial Opportunities in the New Music and Entertainment Industry, will help you discover and declare your IDENTITY as artists and entrepreneurs, your VISION for the life and vocation you dream of, and your INTENTION and plans to begin to transform your dreams into realities. 

I was fortunate enough to be invited to speak by CMEA Tri-M Music Honor Society Chair, Michelle Ewer. Tri-M Music Honor Society offers students, grades 6 through 12, an opportunity to perform, serve the community as well as places them in leadership positions. It helps to bring a music department together and operate as one. Tri-M looks different in every school. Colorado has one of the most robust Tri-M conventions across the country; Students come together to share and discover new ways to make their chapters stronger. Students walk away feeling excited and eager to try new ideas they have experienced at the convention. Feel free to click on the links below to answer questions that you may have.  

Click here to start a NAfME Tri-M® chapter at your school 

Click here for NAfME Tri-M® chapter resources

Michael Pickering, President and Chief Creative Officer of Lionsong Entertainment, Inc., and former Director and founder of the Music and Entertainment Entrepreneurship program at the Community College of Aurora, is a creative leader, entrepreneur, educator, and musician. He holds a Master of Arts in Music Business Degree and a B.P.S. in Interdisciplinary Music Studies Degree from the Berklee College of Music. He has served on the boards of local arts and entertainment organizations, authored post-secondary music curricula, and spoken at many local and national music industry events. He also provides music and entertainment business and performance consulting services (www.mpickeringmusic.com). Michael and his wife, Amy Pickering, remain active as national headline music and clean comedy performing artists for corporate, theatrical, educational, outreach, cruise, and private clients worldwide — www.michaelandamy.com.

CASE Act Passes US House of Representatives 

CASE Act Passes US House of Representatives

Guest post by Chris Eggertsen 

The bill intending to streamline copyright disputes now heads to the Senate. 

The Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act passed 410-6 in the U.S. House of Representatives Tuesday evening (Oct. 22). It now goes to the Senate for a vote before it can become law. 

If successful, the CASE Act will create a copyright claims board within the U.S. Copyright Office to rule on small claims infringement cases where damages would be capped at $15,000 per claim and $30,000 total. 

The bill would give independent creators a practical way to enforce their rights without the burden of hiring an attorney to fight the infringement in federal court. Cases would be decided by a three-judge panel of subject matter experts inside the Copyright Office, who will hear only straightforward cases of the alleged infringement. It includes a provision in which the Copyright Office will monitor the process in order to ensure it is not being used as a tool of harassment, according to a recent House press release.

The non-profit Copyright Alliance is applauding the U.S. House of Representatives for its overwhelming passage of the CASE Act on Tuesday evening (Oct. 22), echoing numerous advocates of the landmark copyright bill that will make it easier and less expensive for independent creators to fight copyright infringement. 

"The Recording Academy applauds the House for passing the CASE Act today, another victory for music creators almost exactly a year after the Music Modernization Act was signed into law,” said Daryl Friedman, chief industry, government, & member relations officer for the Recording Academy, in a statement. “We also thank the nearly 2,000 Recording Academy members who lobbied their legislators this month for the CASE Act. We now look to the Senate and the White House to get this bill into law and ensure music makers have access to the copyright protection they deserve." 

Added Copyright Alliance CEO Keith Kupferschmid: "The CASE Act continues to be a legislative priority for hundreds of thousands of photographers, illustrators, graphic artists, songwriters, authors, bloggers, YouTubers and other types of creators and small businesses across the country. These creators are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy. Unfortunately, they currently have rights but no means to enforce them because federal court is too expensive and complex to navigate.

“Today’s vote by the House demonstrates not only the tremendous support for the bill but also the fact that members of Congress could not be bamboozled into believing the numerous falsehoods about the CASE Act that were proffered by those who philosophically oppose any copyright legislation that will help the creative community and who will use any means to achieve their illicit goals.” 

The next step for the bill will be a full vote on the floor of the Senate, where it has already been voted out of the Judiciary Committee. 

The CASE Act has not been without its detractors. Among them are the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union, which argues that the bill’s passage “runs the risk of creating a chilling effect” with respect to speech online. The ACLU has claimed with average internet users could potentially face thousands of dollars in fines for simply sharing a meme or other piece of copyrighted content.

Music Publishers Are Driving A Full Stack Music Revolution 


Music Publishers Are Driving A Full Stack Music Revolution

As the value of music publishing catalogs have multiplied, so have the ways in which forward-thinking companies like Downtown, Round Hill, Kobalt, ole/Anthem, Primary Wave and Create Group monetized those catalogs, says MiDiA entertainment industry analyst Mark Mulligan. 

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Guest post by Mark Mulligan of MIDiA from the Music Industry Blog 

Music publishing catalogs are gaining momentum fast as an asset class for institutional investments, with transactions ranging from large catalog mergers and acquisitions (M&A) through to investment vehicles for songwriters’ shares such as the Hipgnosis Fund and Royalty Exchange. Since 2010 the number of publicly announced music catalog transactions – across recordings and publishing – totaled $6.5 billion, with a large volume of additional non-disclosed transactions.This growing influx of capital has implications far beyond publishing, however, as ambitious publishers are using the access to debt and investment to reverse into the recordings business. 

Streaming, the change catalyst 

As with so many music market shifts, streaming is the catalyst for these changes. Streaming represented 27% of publisher revenues in 2018 and is set to near 50% by 2026. However, songwriter-related royalties – incorporating publisher and CMO payments – from streaming are less than a third of what labels get. Small-but-important increments such as the US disputed mechanical royalties rate increase are a) difficult to push through, and b) will not get publishing royalties to parity with label royalties. This means that publishers will underperform compared to labels in the fastest-growing revenue stream. The alternative is a ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’ strategy. 

BMG Music Rights and Kobalt set the precedent with label services divisions alongside their publishing businesses, enabling them to play on both sides of the streaming equation. Now a wide range of publishers, both traditional and next-generation, are expanding their non-publishing businesses. – from ole/Anthem buying production music companies Jingle Punks and 5 Alarm Music, through Reservoir Music buying Chrysalis Records to Downtown buying CDBaby parent AVL. All have the common theme of publishers diversifying away from their core businesses to ensure they compete across a wider strand of the music business value chain.

Now Is A Golden Age for New Artists: Be Encouraged (And Realistic) 

Why This Is a Golden Age for New Artists (So Long as They Keep Their Ambitions in Check) 

We’re seeing a clear commercial emboldening of “middle-tier”‘ musicians at the expense of megastars 

Guest Post By TIM INGHAM 

What Is happening to streaming’s superstars? That was the big question asked in this very column two months ago. The answer, delivered by a myriad of game-changing stats: they’re getting squeezed. 

New data now shows that this trend isn’t going away – and is, in fact, calcifying. Industry monitor Nielsen recently released its half-year U.S. music trade report, which revealed the total number of interactive audio streams played in the first six months of 2019. This figure stood at 333.5 billion – up 28% year-on-year.  

Within Nielsen’s report, the body also confirmed the artists who attracted the most on-demand audio streams in the States during this period. The top five for the first half of 2019: 

  • Drake (2.66 billion streams); 
  • Ariana Grande (2.59 billion); 
  • Post Malone (2.35 billion); 
  • Billie Eilish (2.23 billion); 
  • Juice WRLD (1.91 billion) 

Guess what? The cumulative amount of audio streams accumulated by these Top 5 artists (11.74 billion) was actually smaller than that racked up by the equivalent Top 5 acts from Nielsen’s H1 2018 report (11.83 billion). The top five for the first half of 2018: 

  • Drake (3.33 billion streams); 
  • Post Malone (3.15 billion); 
  • XXXTentacion (1.92 billion); 
  • Migos (1.90 billion) 
  • J.Cole (1.53 billion) 

It must now be beyond doubt: There is a very significant shift in the democratization of music industry revenues taking place, with the momentum swinging away from blockbuster megastars and towards a much larger “middle tier” of artists. A juicy takeaway stat: according to Nielsen’s midyear reports, Drake was the biggest audio streaming artist in the United States in both the first half 2019 and the first half 2018. But, from one year to the next, his streaming tally actually fell by approximately 670 million plays.  

This, remember, happened amid a macro streaming marketplace which continues to shoot up by a double-digit percentage every year. 

Stats like these fit neatly with what Spotify – the world’s biggest subscription audio streaming platform – calls, to this day, its “mission”: “[To] unlock the potential of human creativity by giving a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art and billions of fans the opportunity to enjoy and be inspired by these creators.” 

We don’t yet know how many acts relevant to that “million creative artists” goal are “making a living off their art” but we do know this: According to MBW research, the three major labels jointly saw their streaming revenue growth shrink in the first half of this year; simultaneously, Spotify’s revenue growth grew faster than ever. 

The most likely conclusion, there: Spotify is increasingly paying more of its royalty money to acts outside the three major record companies. 

This trend – the clear commercial emboldening of a “middle-tier”‘ of artists at the expense of megastars – is, it transpires, also bleeding into the live music arena. 

One recent hard data point shows this fact very clearly. The biggest concert promoter in the world, Live Nation, saw its total concert revenues grow by 16% year-on-year in the first half of this year. The driver of this uptick? Ticket sales for shows by artists operating outside LN’s Top 100-grossing acts. 

This sub-100 club saw their concerts revenue grow by 32% in H1 2019, Live Nation revealed last month – double the size of the percentage increase across its entire business. 

“[We’re] seeing more artists than ever in the history of this business selling between 2,000 and 4,000 seats [per show] right now.” 

The rise of the “middle-tier” artist has definitely been noticed by the world’s other largest concert promoter, AEG Presents – the owner of Coachella, which also works on tours for huge artists such as Elton John, BlackPink and The Rolling Stones. 

Rick Mueller is President of AEG Presents in North America. “I don’t know whether to call it a golden age or a renaissance, but we’re seeing more artists than ever in the history of this business selling between 2,000 and 4,000 seats [per show] right now,” he tells me. “I’ve been in this business for 25 years and I’ve never seen anything like this. Artists are coming out of the club world into theater venues at an incredible rate.” 

Mueller is certainly well-versed on this subject. AEG owns theater venues including Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium – which he says is now hosting roughly 65 shows a year. Meanwhile, the city’s Hollywood Palladium, owned by Live Nation, is hosting closer to 100 shows a year. And over in New York, the recently-opened Brooklyn Steel – co-owned by AEG and Bowery Presents – laid on a whopping 220 shows in its first 12 months of operation. 

“These are astronomical numbers in major markets, but even in the smaller markets you’re seeing a significantly larger quantity of shows taking place,” says Mueller. “Bands just keep coming out of nowhere and filling these rooms.” 

AEG suspects that this trend is closely related to the “middle tier” streaming artist phenomenon, with services like Spotify, combined with social media, putting the ability to build significant audiences back into the hands of performers and their teams. 

“Rewind 20 years ago, for a band to get the scale and following they needed to [sell out] a 2,000 seater venue, securing radio airplay was critical,” says Mueller. “But the advent of social media, streaming and viral media in general has changed everything.” 

This is all excellent news for artists hoping to quit their day jobs. Industry insiders suggest that a typical U.S ticket price for a 3,000-capacity theater venue today sits at around $40, and that, depending on production values and other factors, an act can expect to take home a 65% margin from that pricetag. 

Playing ten sold-out theater shows like this across the States would therefore gross $1.2 million, from which 65% would see $780,000 retained by the artist in question. 

Willard Ahdritz, the founder of artist/songwriter services company Kobalt – and the originator of the “middle tier” epithet – estimates there are currently more performers than at any point in history making a living from their recorded music catalogs. Presumably the same goes for the touring market? 

“I think that’s a fair suggestion,” says Mueller. “Between what an artist can make on the shows themselves, then adding in merchandise sales, there’s a good living to be made at that 4,000-cap level.” 

So what’s the catch? Evidence suggests that, just like in streaming, as the earnings of the “middle tier” of artists explode in live music, so the relative success of global superstars may inevitably start to dwindle. 

According to Pollstar data, the volume of ticket sales to the world’s Top 100 tours fell 6.1% year-on-year in November-May 2018/2019 compared to the same period in 2017/2018. Revenue from those ticket sales also fell, down 3.8%. Meanwhile, there is a notable lack of new artists breaking into the ranks of mega-grossing touring artists: As Rolling Stone noted last week, the average age of an artist behind a Top 10 global tour is now a creaky 53. 

Mueller says that AEG is not blind to the difficulty of elevating artists beyond the ranks of those 2,000-4,000-cap venues and into 10,000-plus cap arenas or huge stadiums. “I won’t call that a problem, but it’s definitely a challenge,” he says. “There is just so much music out there now; how do you get scale and [consumer] focus to grow someone into a true superstar?” 

Mueller refutes the idea, however, that the age of the mainstream breakthrough icon may be grinding to a halt. He points to recent Rolling Stone cover star Billie Eilish, who he says has “shot right past club and theater level into an arena superstar within literally 18 months”. 

And then there’s Ed Sheeran. At 28 years old, Sheeran is now a conspicuously young face amongst the world’s biggest-grossing live artists. Earlier this month, the British singer/songwriter broke U2’s all time record for a world tour’s total gross, generating a startling $736 million on a Divide-themed trek which will eventually see him play a jaw-dropping 255 separate nights. AEG is one of a handful of concert promoters that Sheeran has worked with on this global jaunt. 

“What I find most impressive about Ed is that he built off his first [global] touring cycle to get even bigger second time around,” says Mueller. “That’s one of the most challenging things for artists today: after earning that early success, how do you sustain it and grow it?” 

He adds: “Ed Sheeran continually puts out monster hit records. At the end of the day, that ability to build and build your audience comes down to one question: did you keep on writing songs that resonate with people?” 

As some elements of the music industry rulebook get torn up in front of our eyes, it seems, other passages remain resolutely unchangeable. 

Tim Ingham is the founder and publisher of Music Business Worldwide, which has serviced the global industry with news, analysis and jobs since 2015. He writes a weekly column for “Rolling Stone.”

Seven Misconceptions You Might Have About Music Publishing 

Seven Misconceptions You Might Have About Music Publishing

Take it from me: music publishing is a vast and potentially confusing topic, even for those of us who work in the industry every day. There are reams of laws — many dating back decades or further — and seemingly arbitrary protocols depending on platform, territory and other factors. 

I'm not going to pretend that I can give you an overview of music publishing in one article, but I am going to try and clear up a few of the most persistent misconceptions about the topic in one fell swoop. 

Publishing royalties only matter if you sell thousands of units 

Understanding that your song is split into two halves (master recording and composition) and earns different types of royalties for each half is essential to determining exactly what revenue you're owed. More specifically, publishing royalties are attributed to the composition side of your song and are earned in various ways. Part of those publishing royalties come from mechanical royalties, which are generated from sales of physical copies (aka "units") like vinyl or CDs or digital downloads from streaming, but that’s not the only way you earn publishing royalties. Other ways you earn royalties from your composition include streaming services like Spotify, video platforms like YouTube, song lyric sites, live performances, apps and more. 

Mechanical royalties are only generated from physical sales 

The term “mechanical” dates back to the days when music playback only occurred through mechanical means, like cranking up the Victrola at a (low-volume) 1910-style house party. In the pre-streaming era, every sale of a physical product (like LPs, CDs, or cassettes) earned a mechanical royalty. Today, streaming has become the primary form of music consumption in many markets. Those streams also earn mechanical royalties, making physical sales account for only a small percentage of your mechanical royalty revenue stream. 

To own the copyright of a song, you have to mail it to yourself 

While there are circumstances in which you should consider filing a formal copyright application for a song you write, from the moment your song is considered finished, or “fixed in a tangible form which can be reproduced,” you own the copyright. This might take the form of lyrics and chords written down on paper or a simple demo recording. Once you write it and have some physical representation of it, you own the copyright on that song and therefore own the publishing rights to it as well. 

Collection societies will collect all of your publishing royalties 

If you are only signed up with a collection society, you’re missing out on a big piece of your publishing income. Affiliating yourself with a CMO (collective management organization) or PRO (performance rights organization) such as ASCAP or BMI, if you’re in North America, is an essential step in music publishing, but it’s more like the beginning than the end of the process. For many songwriters, the royalties collected by their collection society represent perhaps a third of their overall publishing royalties. None of the major US PROs collect any mechanical royalties, whether from physical sales or streaming services, which is a significant - and growing - piece of the publishing revenue puzzle. While US PROs may be collecting global performance revenue via reciprocal deals, they may not be covering all the markets where your music is being performed or consumed - and they are almost certainly not collecting your international mechanical royalties. If your home collection society is outside the US, they may be collecting your mechanicals already, but that doesn’t mean they are registering your song with other global performance and mechanical societies to ensure that you’re collecting in every territory. 

Songwriters don’t earn royalties from broadcast radio 

While songwriters are typically paid performance royalties for broadcast (AM/FM) radio play under a “blanket license” that pays less than, say, a direct sale, the royalties earned through radio can be significant. The US is an outlier, however, when it comes to paying royalties on radio broadcasts to the sound recording (master) copyright owner, which is usually the record label or the self-released artist. Joining a small minority of countries in the global music market that includes China, North Korea and Iran, the US does not mandate that master recording owners be paid this second type of performance royalty for broadcast radio. However, satellite and non-interactive streaming radio services like Pandora do pay out to both master owners and publishers. 

A Co-Publishing Deal Is a Quick Way to Break Into Music Publishing 

Not quite. In these deals, a songwriter assigns a portion of his or her publishing rights to another person or company in exchange for money; usually, an advance on any royalties the song(s) will earn in the future. While there’s nothing wrong with this arrangement per se, it demands a keen and clear-eyed focus on the future. Is your co-publisher well-connected and able to score you syncs, performances by popular artists and other placements? Even in the best of circumstances, a co-publishing deal is much like a high-interest loan advanced against future earnings. That’s one reason we advise you seek experienced legal counsel before entering into any publishing deal that involves you giving away any of your rights as a songwriter or publisher. This leads us neatly into our final, and perhaps most important point…. 

Songwriters Give Up Ownership of Their Copyright When Signing a Publishing Deal 

It depends on the deal! If you’re signing into a co-publishing deal, generally you are signing away ownership to current and future songs throughout the term of the agreement. If you want to keep your ownership or aren’t ready for a traditional publishing deal, a publishing administration deal might be a better fit.  When you sign up with a publishing administrator like Songtrust, you do not lose any ownership of your copyrights and are free to exploit your songs however you’d like, in any form you’d like. Plus, by having your songs registered properly worldwide, you set yourself up to collect all future publishing royalties. 

These are just a few of the misconceptions floating around about music publishing, and as creators become more independent, the landscape of music publishing will certainly change and more misconceptions will come to light. If you’ve decided to make songwriting your career, make sure to learn everything you can about the music industry and, most importantly, music publishing, to ensure that you’re making better-informed decisions about your work.

Have questions? Contact me at michael@mpickeringmusic.com It would be my pleasure to help!

CD Baby, Tunecore, DistroKid Add Rapid Apple Music For Artists Verification  

CD Baby, Tunecore, DistroKid Add Rapid Apple Music For Artists Verification 

Top 3 DIY music distributors CD Baby, Tunecore and DistroKid have all added rapid Apple Music For Artists verification, unlocking the platform's expanded analytics for their artists. 

To be eligible, artists must use the same email address and password that they use for their distribution account when signing up for Apple Music For Artists. 

Here's how CD Baby describes what Apple Music For Artists offers: 

When you claim your Apple Music for Artists profile you’ll be able to: 

  • Express your visual brand on the platform 
  • View the real-time results of your music promotion 
  • Ensure that your music catalog is accurately represented 

With Apple Music for Artists you can view: 

  • Plays from on-demand streaming 
  • Average Daily Listeners 
  • Song Purchases on iTunes 
  • Radio plays on Apple Music 
  • Shazams (yes, Shazams!) 
  • Insights and milestones for your music worldwide (for instance, “You passed 10,000 all-time plays in Canada”) 
  • Plays from Playlists 
  • Most Played Songs 
  • Popular Countries (with heat maps) 
  • Demographic and geographic information about your listeners (by song, album, playlist, etc.) 
  • And more