I came across this Infographic from an article on “Information Is Beautiful”, and it breaks down the various ways that a musician can make the paltry minimum wage of $1,260 a month.
First of all, I think it’s interesting that the goal in this graphic was to make the minimum wage, as if already giving into the idea that musicians will be poor. However, since that pretty much squares up with most people’s realities, it seems appropriate.
So, here’s the graphic, but then I’m going to tell you about my own theories for musicians as we continue into this digital music age. Here’s a hint: Music has ZERO financial value… and never did.
First, the picture:
To me, the best way would be to sell individual CDs of course, just because of the sheer volume, but some people might feel totally opposite. I think that finding CLOSE, HARD-CORE FANS is the way for a musician to earn money these days.
There’s a lot of talk about finding “1,000 True Fans”, who would pay $100 ayear, or more for a close relationship with an artist.
The way “Patrons” used to, or the way Patreon does it now.
Because Music has NEVER had any financial value.
Before recorded music, it was only of value to keep people in a bar, or just as entertainment for the masses, and a musician might make money playing some popular song he heard somewhere.
Once recorded music hit, we paid to hear the song, but we paid for the MEDIUM the music was on- record, tape, CD.
Every song cost the same, no matter it’s “quality”- it was the MEDIUM we paid for.
Now that everything is just digital, what exactly are we paying for? I can hear just about any song on YouTube for free, because that’s probably the way I heard it to begin with.
So what is the modern musician supposed to do?
Create EXPERIENCES for their audience.
Phish does it- they play different concerts all the time, and they are jam packed. People download special recording, buy album art, clothes. special EVERYTHING.
In fact, if you go see a show live, you get the downloads for FREE.
And they have cultivated thousands of fans who spend way more than $100 a year with them.
So, there’s my advice- instead of trying to make money with your “notes”, give the people the EXPERIENCES they crave, and that your music can provide.
Go make art!!