From an outside perspective, one might think that artists in the music industry don’t have to struggle financially. After all, music is ubiquitous, and everyone loves it right?
The reality is that although musicians nowadays have the freedom to write, produce and distribute music globally with limitless ease and efficiency, it is now much harder for artists to reap the financial rewards and security from writing music than previously before.
The Decline of The Record Industry
The advent of free digital streaming has made it far more difficult for songwriters, musicians and artists to reap the financial rewards from writing and distributing music that was achievable before the existence of leaks, piracy, and music streaming platforms.
Many music fans in today’s age are more than happy to show unwavering love and adoration for their favourite bands and artists, without necessarily paying for merchandise or even attending concerts. After all, YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and many other streaming platforms allow music listeners to consume endless music without supporting the artist directly.
To put it into perspective- Spotify pays out between $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream to the rights holder of the music, which is a negligible amount. For any artist looking to support themselves through music as a career, it’s nowhere near enough. Only 1% of artists on Spotify make a minimum wage through their Spotify earnings.
In no other industry is it not only possible, but even widely accepted, for consumers to enjoy a product at its full unrestricted potential without fair remuneration. Roger Walters, the bassist of Pink Floyd believes modern society has developed “a whole generation that’s grown up who believe that music should be free.”
Are many music fans aware of the reality of the decline of the record industry, and the impact this is having on touring artists?
Generating Stable Financial Income
The single reason why established artists are able to support themselves through music is because they have successfully built an emotional connection to fans through their music.
Through converting music listeners to fans, an artist has a much greater ability to provide a product that an audience is prepared to pay for. This leverage is important for artists to sustain themselves and to continue creating the music that fans adore.
This genuine, emotional connection between the artist and fans is the fundamental pillar that supports an artist, in addition to the lives of those directly involved and responsible for supporting them such as management, record label rep, PR agents and booking agents who depend on the band’s success.
The relationship between the artist and fans has many layers, and is surprisingly complicated. Inherently, the music fan and the artist are entirely dependent on one another.
Musicians will certainly not treat their fans as customers, because this takes the premise that they are purely catering for them on a financial basis. But the approach and understanding of the business model is what is important. Understanding the relationship between supply and demand, can help unleash enormous business potential for artists looking to build revenue.
Advantages of Technology
Despite the immense challenges that the digital age presents for aspiring artists and songwriters, there are some notable benefits that technology brings.
Artists now have more creative control over their art than they have ever had before. Songwriters have complete freedom to write, share and distribute music to a global audience – something that was impossible in the past without a substantial record deal in place.
Having the ability to build a fan base online, and build connections with fans across anywhere in the world is significant. It’s now practically effortless to sell music related products such as CD’s and merchandise to fans through online platforms and marketplaces with streamlined, painless transactions.
Artists should not treat fans like customers. That is a surefire way to lose the respect of your fans, and lose their support entirely. It’s also unethical, to presume an artist would be willing to take advantage of enamoured fans in order to make money.
If you wish to sustain yourself as an artist, you will need to create a demand. What can you offer as a musician or an artist that people will want to spend money on? It’s challenging enough for many artists on the touring circuit, struggling to sell on the road. What you present to the world has got to have value.
There are opportunities out there for bands and artists to uncover and explore. Through taking the initiative to understand and leverage your value as an artist you will truly be able to unleash your business potential and sustain yourself in the ferociously challenging modern music industry.