DiCola Study : Read the paper before getting caught up with the pretty pictures, people.

Guest Post by Sebastian Förström, you can check out his website [here]. Copyright in the Author.

Please read the 77 page paper before getting caught up with the pretty pictures, people.

The graphs show “the average musician”, the one guy that doesn’t exist.

The survey includes a lot of different musicians, many of which don’t have any recordings (41.5% answered N/A on the “sound recordings” question and 56.2% answered N/A on the “money from songwriting/composition question”).

It’s heavily skewed towards classical and jazz musicians (50.9%) and those two genres together make up about 4% of the record business. It’s also made in 2011, after music sales have dropped by 50%. It would be interesting to compare it to some kind of similar survey from pre-Napster times, but there probably hasn’t been any made using the same criteria.

That said, it seemed pretty balanced to me and worth a read if someone is interested.

I’ll point out that for those calling themselves “composers” copyright-related income on average was around 45%.

For those musicians who made the most money, copyright-related income was a larger part of the pie than for the average musician. Just goes to show that it’s as everybody has always said, the real money in the music business is in writing songs.
( As long as people buy the records 🙂 )

I’ll copy-paste some bits for those who don’t want to read the whole paper:

“There are subgroups of musicians who make a much more substantial portion of their revenue from compositions, especially, and also recordings. These relatively copyright­‐reliant subgroups include composers and musicians in the highest brackets for music­‐related income, as described below.”

“This suggests that sound recordings have greater relative importance for lower-income, part-time, and younger musicians. Selling recordings might be a way to get started in the industry. But for higher-income musicians accumulating revenue streams, composition royalties have a much larger role in earning revenue..”

“Figure 8 also shows how some of the negative trends in the industry are affecting musicians’ revenue. Twice as many respondents who compose reported a decrease in mechanical royalties as reported an increase: 50 percent to 24 percent. Unsurprisingly, sales of recordings in traditional retail stores showed a distinctly negative trend, with 50 percent of respondents who record music reporting a decrease. Financial support from record labels is also in decline; 41 percent of those recording artists with record­‐label contracts reported a decrease in financial support against only 9 percent who reported an increase. This accords with my colleagues’ findings in the separate, qualitative­‐interview phase of the larger project.”

“But merchandising, branding, and licensing of one’s persona make up only a tiny fraction of musicians’ revenue, despite the increased prevalence of social networking. Merchandising revenue is a tiny sliver of musicians’ revenue “pie.””

“In sum, some musicians are more dependent on revenue streams that are directly related to copyright than others. The variation in musicians’ sources of revenue is important; it shows that musicians have a wider range of roles and revenue sources that go beyond composing and recording. Musical creativity takes a number of forms, not just the kinds that copyright law protects. This broader perspective should not, however, obscure the reliance on copyright for many musicians in particular subgroups. To return to a key example, those who focus their activity on composing rely on composition revenue and are much more vulnerable to harm from copyright infringement. The same goes for recording artists who rely on sales of sound recordings.”

Pretty much, yeah.

[EDITORS NOTE: It is the Dicola study that had made headlines declaring only 6% of musicians benefit from Copyright]