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Music creator survey, Q4 2021 Redefining success

Report by Tatiana Cirisano
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20,000 foot view:  As the barriers to music creation continue to lower, more creators enter the field, yet it is becoming harder than ever to earn a living through music, with a finite amount of revenue being split ever more ways. The majority of professional music creators do not earn meaningful income through their craft and must cobble together income from a diverse mix of sources to make ends meet. This is resulting in a recalibration of their objectives, with creators deprioritising fame to focus instead on more modest remuneration and recognition. As these goals clash with traditional music business models, existing stakeholders will need to evolve to meet the needs of the new landscape and the new generation of music creators.

Key insights 

  • Nearly half of music creators have never earned income from their music making, while a quarter are part-time professionals and        are full-time professionals
  • Most professional music creators do not earn meaningful income from their craft, with part-time professionals earning an average of        annually and full-time professionals earning an average of        annually
  • Music creators juggle a fragmented mix of revenue sources to make ends meet, half of which come from selling their skills to other creators, and non-recording revenue is increasingly important
  • Age and professionalism are not strongly correlated, reflecting the lowered barriers to entry for music-making today
  • In terms of goals and definitions of success, music creators overall are divided:        want to make a living from their music, while        make music only for the fun of it – the latter reflecting the emergence of the consumer-as-creator
  • Full-time professional music creators strive for remuneration and recognition, as        agree that their goal is to make a living from music alone, and        agree that being respected and recognised in their scene matters most
  •        are particularly career-oriented, over-indexing for both seeking fame and wanting to make a living from music alone

  • The shift in creators’ objectives is driving many towards the creator economy model of earning high revenue from a small niche of superfans, rather than low revenue from a mass, passive audience
  • As creators’ new objectives and strategies are nearly opposite those of the traditional music business, traditional stakeholders, like record labels and DSPs, will be forced to evolve if they want to continue delivering value to creators

Companies and brands mentioned in this report: Artiphon, Bandcamp, BeatStars, ByteDance, Epic Games, Fortnite, Internet Money, Juice WRLD, Nick Mira, Orba, Orbacam, Resso, SoundOn, Soundtrap, Splice, Spotify, TikTok, UnitedMasters

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