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How Do You Make Money From Music
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An important survey for musicians/teachers


As one component of our Artists Revenue Streams project, FMC is conducting an online survey from Sept 6 - Oct 28, 2011 to gather crucial information about the ways that US-based musicians and composers are currently generating income from songs, recordings or performances, and how this has changed over the past five years.

Click here to take the online survey now

FMC urges US-based musicians and composers who are 18 years of age or older to participate in this online survey. Your participation is both voluntary and anonymous. There are no questions that identify you as an individual, and your data will be aggregated with thousands of other musicians.

By participating in this survey, you are contributing to something much bigger than simply providing us with some information about your life and musical work; the results will provide a rich snapshot of the complex nature of being a musician in the 21st century.

We will be sharing the data with organizations, advocates and musicians nationwide in 2012, and it will help us to ensure that policymakers and consumers understand the financial realities of musicians today.

Click here to take the online survey now

About the Artist Revenue Streams project

Research questions

What we seek to find out

Methodology and components

Details about our multi-method research strategy

Population of Study

What kinds of musicians we're studying

Objectives and Outcomes

What we expect to do with our research


How musicians and composers can participate

Resource Center

Press releases, sample blog posts, social media, PSAs, flyers and more

Press Clips

Press coverage about the project

About us

Learn about this project's team, and its advisory committee

The Importance of Understanding Musicians’ Revenue Streams

Meteoric transformations in the creation and distribution of music over the past ten years have drastically changed the landscape for musicians. New technologies like digital music stores, streaming services and webcasting stations have greatly reduced the cost barriers to the distribution and sale of music, and a vast array of new platforms and technologies — from Bandcamp to blogs to Twitter feeds — now help musicians connect with fans.

Many observers are quick to categorize these structural changes as positive improvements for musicians, particularly when compared with the music industry of the past. It’s true that musicians’ access to the marketplace has greatly improved, but how have these changes impacted musicians’ ability to generate revenue based on their creative work? Almost all analyses of the effects of these changes rest purely on assumptions that they have improved musicians’ bottom lines, or on top-level assessments of the music industry writ large, based on traditional metrics: number of albums sold, number of spins on radio, even stock price valuations.

Since our inception in 2000, Future of Music Coalition has strived to provide artists from all backgrounds and genres with valuable information about the issues that affect their ability to earn a living. Consequently, these questions about musicians’ ability to make a living from their music in the 21st century are critical. FMC has launched Artist Revenue Streams – a multi-stage research project to assess whether and how musicians’ revenue streams are changing in this new music landscape.

Research Questions

The Artist Revenue Streams project is based on a very basic research question: what percentage of musicians’ income comes from each possible revenue source? What is the ratio among different sources, whether it be royalties, money from gigs, t-shirt sales, or any of the 29 other meaningful revenue streams that FMC has identified? Has the ratio changed over time and, if so, what are the factors that have conditioned these changes? Finally, are the revenue stream ratios different for artists working in different genres and at different stages of their careers?

Population of study

The project is collecting information from a diverse set of US-based musicians about the ways that they are currently generating income from their recordings, compositions or performances, and whether this has changed over the past ten years.

Methodology and research components

The project employs three methodologies: in-depth interviews with more than 25 different types of musicians — from jazz performers, to classical players, TV and film composers, Nashville songwriters, rockers and hip hop artists; fi nancial snapshots that will show individual artists’ revenue pies in any given year; and a wide ranging online survey in which we hope thousands of musicians will participate in fall 2011.


We invite musicians and composers to participate in this ambitious project. Visit our participation page to learn about how you can engage.

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