The day will begin with a panel presentation of professional women including Candice Jones, Talent Buyer at the Black Cat, Jenny Poppen, Entertainment Specialist and Music Manager, Rachel Levitin, Musician and Journalist and Ann Chaitovitz, Entertainment Attorney and former Executive Director of the Future of Music Coalition. The panel will discuss the present music industry landscape and will answer questions from the audience.
“Music always was a hustle,” says Casey Rae, CEO of the nonprofit Future of Music Coalition. “The terrifying moment about this modern economy is you’ve got so many variables now to keep track of, but the flip side is there are so many more things now under your control.
“There are all kinds of ways now to fund music projects and get stuff off the ground that don’t necessarily have to conform to a traditional way of doing business. It depends on where you are in the industry and at what stage of your career, but the real top line takeaway here is you have to make use of a diverse set of revenue streams across multiple venues and platforms. It’s not any one thing.” read more
A New York Times feature by journalist Steven Johnson titled ‘The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t’ is ruffling a fair few feathers in the US, with its claims that the post-Napster era hasn’t been as bad for musicians (and other creators) as is often claimed. “Writers, performers, directors and even musicians report their economic fortunes to be similar to those of their counterparts 15 years ago, and in many cases they have improved.
Earlier this month, the New York Times Magazine reached out to Future of Music Coalition with regard to a forthcoming feature. We like to help out with this sort of thing, because we know that music business structures and practices can be quite complicated, and think it’s important that journalists get the facts and context as correct as possible, whatever narrative they’re advancing. Last week, fact-checkers from the magazine followed up with FMC staff. There was a good deal of back and forth as we were provided short paragraphs, and later, individual sentences, from the article and asked to verify whether they were “true.” (Unfortunately, we weren’t provided with much context.)
Alas, what ended up running was rather disappointing.NYT Magazine chose to publish without substantive change most of the things that we told them were either: a) not accurate or b) not verifiable because there is no industry consensus and the “facts” could really go either way.
And just as there are more avenues for consumers to pay for creative work, there are more ways to be compensated for making that work. Think of that signature flourish of 2000s-era television artistry: the exquisitely curated (and usually obscure) song that signals the transition from final shot to the rolling credits. Having a track featured during the credits of ‘‘Girls’’ or ‘‘Breaking Bad’’ or ‘‘True Blood’’ can be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to a songwriter. (Before that point, the idea of licensing a popular song for the credits of a television series was almost unheard-of.) Video-game budgets pay for actors, composers, writers and song licenses.
To vastly oversimplify, there are typically four stops in a revenue chain. (For more specific details about how particular revenue streams work, see the Future of Music Coalition’s series of charts here.) Consumers pay a service, the service pays labels/publishers, each label/publisher pays its musicians. But each step of this chain is shrouded in some form of obfuscation. Consumers see a sticker price on the service—their $10 or $15 or $20 a month—but revenue also goes into the services from advertising, and services can be cross-subsidized by their parent companies’ other businesses. read more
Kristin Thomson is a co-founder of the non-profit, The Future of Music Coalition, which among other things has conducted studies about how musicians earn revenue. Back in the 90s she played in the indie-band Tsunami, and co-ran the DC label Simple Machines, which put out records for Ida, and Dave Grohl’s Pocketwatch, plus they distributed “The Mechanic’s Guide”, a DIY handbook for independent labels that was way, way ahead of its time.