The details of how the music industry works isn’t obviously apparent to the masses. If an artist is selling their songs on Beatport or iTunes, then they “made it” right? Not even close. The truth may surprise many; in fact, it will, but luckily Nick Thayer stepped up to spread knowledge of what the results are after a song is purchased, or after a tour has commenced. With the heavy influx of money into the dance music scene, we’d hope all the artists are getting the cut they deserve, but it seems that our scene is mirroring the rest of the industry, and even society as a whole. There is a whole lot of money, but it’s almost all coalesced to a very small percentage of people, let alone artists.
I always ask myself how this has become the case, but connecting the dots is fairly easy. For one, it’s always been that artists haven’t received a great portion of the proceeds regarding their music. Live events is usually where a lot of the money is made, however even then there are many fees and people who need to be paid. An artist can’t do everything themselves; there are managers, booking agents, graphic designers, collaborators, and whole heap of others that contribute to the process of getting music to the world. Everyone needs payment, but why is the artist the last one in line to get their reparations?
Given that these people let the artist focus on the music and help immensely in pushing the artist’s music to a broad audience, they hold a lot of power. That power can be abused, whether actively or passively by tradition, which results in a dwindling check for the artist, who basically gets to a point where they are just trying to keep things going. Compare it to any families out there who may not be poor, but are stuck at a point where they are working to live. There is no wiggle room; there is only moving forward. Luckily for us, artists continue to push content because THEY love making music. However, we can help the struggle with a few easy steps.
These steps, along with Nick Thayer‘s full analysis, that’s ripe with easily comprehensible fiscal details, can be read by following the link below. Always keep in mind these artists are working to make a living too, so wherever you can take that extra step to help them out, why not? Even a simple like/share can go a long way. As a blogger, manager, and producer, I understand the importance of having a “street team” mentality for artists you enjoy. Once you read through Nick’s write-up, I am hoping it puts things in perspective for you guys and you can make active decisions that can help the artist in multiple ways. You see the results of not taking care of a community (I’m talking to you America), so let’s get what needs to be taken care of in our scene resolved, in order to be able to give the fullest range of freedom to the artists that we can while helping the scene thrive. Yes, that includes making them financially stable.
Here’s Nick’s breakdown of how much he made or didn’t make off of his Like Boom EP. You can click on the link below to see his full analysis as well as his breakdown on how much he makes from touring:
Here’s the TOTAL sales breakdown for my Like Boom EP (March 2012). This is sales across all platforms (iTunes / Beatport / etc etc). Bear in mind this EP was the #2 overall release for thirteen weeks on Beatport so you can assume it was a comparative success.
Like Boom 2600
Haters Gonna Hate 652
Top Of The World 710
What Props Ya Got 614
Rise Up 658
Like Boom Nick Thayer Rmx 1953
Facepalm Rmx 969
What Props Rmx 509
So that’s 12,722 total sales.
For the sake of making this as simple as possible, let’s be generous and call these sales $2 each (most are a bit less). Then let’s split 50% (give or take) for whatever site you sell through, meaning the site takes $1 and there’s $1 left. Most labels these days run on a profit share arrangement which means you split what’s left of that down the middle too. Let’s also allow for any writing splits where other artists have been involved adding vocals etc. So here we have total income that gets to me after the site, the label and the other artists involved have all taken their cut.
Like Boom (50% to sample clearance, 25% share to three vocalists)
Haters Gonna Hate (50% to vocalist) $326
Top Of The World (50% to vocalist) $177.5
What Props Ya Got (30% to vocalist) $158
Rise Up $329
Like Boom Nick Thayer Rmx (see above) $122
Facepalm Rmx (50% to remixer) $242
What Props Rmx (50% to remixer) $127
So that’s a total income from the EP of $3673.50.
(I’m not going to include Spotify or YouTube here as they total less than the price of a beer overall).
At this point you pay your management 15% of what you have. Mastering comes in at approximately $150-$200 per track, so that’s $1500 total. Artwork is $1000 for anything half decent that’s usable across all platforms. A decent publicity campaign is about $300-$500. There’s a myriad of other smaller costs involved too. Some labels will cover these costs up front but it will be a ‘recoupable advance’ meaning you have to pay them back before they give you any money so it’s the same as fronting the money yourself.
So you can see at the end, this EP which probably represented a year of work at actually ended up COSTING me money (though not a lot) to release. If somebody said to you ‘put your heart and soul into this project for a year and at the end give us some money for the privilege of having us listen to it’, what would YOU do?