NEWS-FLASH: Musicians are Broke as S#!t...

It’s no secret that the music industry job market for new music graduates is terrible. And its not just the young bloods who are in trouble. 

Long-term professional musicians are also finding the business challenging - working twice as hard to maintain both their career and their annual income, (growth... what's that?).

But, just how bad is it? Well, according to a MIDIA study released June of 2014, income in every music business sector has plummeted year over year since 2000.

Here are some key findings: 
- Younger Musicians (18 to 24 year-olds) predominantly cannot earn a living wage as a full time musician. Instead, (generally living in their parents residence, unable to afford an apartment) they are finding work in service industries: leisure and hospitality, or retail and wholesale in order to make ends meet.

- Median wages for all music industry related jobs have declined or remained unchanged in not just the last decade, but in the last two decades for full-time musicians!

- Out of the top five industry sectors employing 18 to 24 year-old musicians, none are proving to allow the musician to survive comfortably without finding supplemental work outside of the music business.

Growth... What's That?
Even though certain areas of the music business experienced growth, (i.e., streaming and other digital-source revenues), much of the market growth didn’t make it down to the average working musician.

When it comes to performing live, musicians haven't had much luck there either. The live music value chain is an incredibly complex one with multiple stakeholders taking their share of the pie, (ticketing, secondary ticketing, venues, booking agents, promoters, tax, expenses etc.). The share of live revenues that artists will actually make from booking a live performance has declined every year since 2000.

The impact on the market is that total musical artist income (i.e. from all revenue sources) has declined drastically since the year 2009.

The Next Music Industry - The Digital Music Era:
It is probably fair to say that we are approximately half way through a huge period of transition for the music business. The realignment of revenue is merely a precursor to the new business models, products and career paths that will emerge to capitalize on future revenue systems.

It is in this next phase that the real ‘fun’ will start. Expect every traditional element of the industry to be challenged to its core. Expect dots to be joined and old models to be broken.

But be in no doubt that what we will end up with will be an industry set up for success in the digital era. However, keep in mind that the digital area requires additional skills going well beyond the traditional training of today's music programs.

Perhaps the music schools of the future will need to start addressing the digital world much faster than they think.

NOTE: the figures quoted in this post are taken from a forthcoming MIDiA report: The Superstar Artist Economy: Artist Income and the Top 1%. The report is a follow up to the previous MIDiA report ‘The Death of the Long Tail’


  1. We're all becoming broke as SHIT. Well, that is if you're not a hedge-fund manager on Wall St. Because those fuckers are earning $200 Million a year and getting additional $35 Million in bonuses. Gee it sure must be tough trying to figure out the color of the interior of your new helicopter! What a tough life. I FUCKING hate the 1%... Eat the rich!