One of the challenges in doing this research is estimating the size and composition of our population of study: musicians and composers. There is no definition for “musician”, nor certifications or qualifying tests. In addition, there is no one organization that represents the majority of musicians.
In the absence of standards, FMC has established some parameters to define our population of study. First and foremost, this study is constrained to US-based musicians. This is a reflection of our capacity, and a recognition that many revenue steams are highly dependent on national copyright law. An international or country-to-country comparison would be incredibly valuable, but it is outside the scope of this project.
To ensure that we’re focusing on musicians that have some credentials in the music community, all research participants must meet the following criteria:
US citizen or permanent resident
Creative or technical credit on at least 6 publicly released tracks – physical or digital. Qualifying tracks can be on one album or on a combination of albums. This can include self-released tracks.
“Credit on 6 commercially released tracks” is the standard that the Recording Academy uses for voting membership. Practically, this means the musician has released something that’s available publicly, but the bar isn’t set so high that only career musicians will qualify for research participation.
In addition, we ask participants:
Whether they are member of one or more of the following organizations: ASCAP, BMI, SESAC, SoundExchange, AFM, AFTRA, AGMA, SAG, Recording Academy, Songwriters Guild, Nashville Songwriters Association International, American Composers Forum, American Music Center, Meet the Composer, Chamber Music America, Americana Music Association, Folk Alliance, Just Plain Folks, Gospel Music Association, Blues Music Association, Country Music Association, International Bluegrass Music Association, or Fractured Atlas
How much of their time they spend being a musician
How much of their annual personal income is derived from being a musician.
While specific answers to questions above do not eliminate any particular participant, we do take a close look at any responses for individuals who are:
not a member of any professional organizations; or
spend less than 10% of their time and make less than 10% of their money being a musician.
These definitions not only help us to determine the types of musicians taking part in our research, but they also help us to put some parameters around our population of study.