In a rather fascinating case study by the Future of Music coalition, they published a very thorough breakdown of an indie musician’s annual salary through four years. This individual, whose name and actual dollar amounts were shrouded in the study due to contractual agreements, makes 100% of his income off of music, has no health insurance, and has been a touring, creative member of several bands over the past four years.
Many of the conclusions one could draw from these numbers are obscured because there is no raw dollar amount to ground the percentages. What can be gleaned, however, is what aspects of the music business are currently profitable for indie musicians.
To wit: while this artist’s income from recorded music increased over the four years of the study, less than a quarter of the income in that category came from CDs sold in stores, instead the vast majority– nearly three quarters– came from selling CDs at shows. Additionally, aside from 2008, touring made up a huge amount of the artist’s income, with the rest being fulfilled by his salary being a member of a band. That salary lasted until last year, when the artist went solo, and had to be made up by selling more CDs on the road and touring more aggressively. Another interesting bit: when breaking down this artist’s royalties, in no year did the percentage of royalty income for this artist break 1.5%.