Musicians’ income from Sound Recordings

aggregated amount of income derived from sound recordings in the past 12 months was 6%
Selling recorded music just isn’t particularly profitable anymore

The Artist Revenue Streams has posted the latest study from their musician survey and it seems to confirm other hypotheses and trends regarding the ability to make money from recordings by musicians.

The link is to the summary but also has a link to the original piece.  Basically, the trend is that fewer musicians are able to make money from recordings when they are sold in a traditional hard-copy format (CDs, LPs, Cassettes, etc.), and while most are reporting an increase of revenue through digital sales it never makes up for the difference of the loss of physical sales.  In other words, the ability to make money selling recorded music in a consumer market is declining.

One interesting trend, however, is that revenue generated by sync licenses is on the rise.  As more and more digital visual/video content emerges, it looks like the market for music to accompany this explosion of content is proving to be an increasingly larger revenue generator.  So it seems that musicians who have sorted out how to license their music for digital visual/video content are the ones who are able to increase their income from this growing set of opportunities.

Which brings me back to the issue of Grand Rights, which are the live performance equivalent to a recorded audio-visual work.  I would suspect that those musicians who have sorted out a way to monetize Grand Rights licensing through the growing live dance performance industries (e.g. Belly Dance, Bollywood, Flamenco) are the ones who can benefit from an increase in licensing revenue.

Whether this can be done or not will depend on the ability of these newer dance genres’ ability to adapt to the pre-existing licensing practices already used by the older established genres here in the US (e.g. ballet, modern dance) and some of that will depend on how big the genres become thus helping to lead to more standard professional practices with regards to the usage of musicians’ intellectual/creative property.

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