Help for New Musicians Chasing Cash | BBC UK

With digital downloads, falling album sales and rampant piracy, what’s it like trying to establish yourself as a new performer in today’s troubled music industry?

Well, in the words of one UK music business professional: “It’s like trying to create a hurricane by running around a field in circles.”

Artists can no longer depend on labels to finance their projects and invest in building their careers. Long demonized, it appears the true value of investment capital, expertise and contracts are coming into focus for today’s new artists.

In her guide – entitled Easy Money? – Ms Harris identifies six main sources of money for music projects:

  • grants
  • friends and family
  • crowdfunding
  • sponsorship
  • debt
  • investment

She says that during her 15 years in the music industry, it has “moved from an internal funding model to having to go to external sources” for cash to kick-start projects.

Normally, she says, musicians are looking for about £5,000 to £10,000 to fund a specific project, such as a record or live appearances.


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2 thoughts on “Help for New Musicians Chasing Cash | BBC UK

  1. Crowdfunding is pretty much dead too. Trendy for a while, but the money givers got very tired and disappointed with acts inability to deliver at all, or to deliver a quality product.

  2. In Economics, there is something called a “Public Good”. A public good is one that is desirable, but is impractical to create a normal exchange in which the consumer pays a user fee for their use of that good. An example of that would be a public road or the national weather service. Since it would be difficult to create a system that charges each and all of us for our use of these goods, we had to find an alternate method.

    Long ago Economists determined that in cases of public goods, relying on voluntary contributions will always fall short of the utility delivered. Simply put, people will offer significantly less than their share thinking others are going to do the same. This is referred to as a “free rider” problem. This problem has been witnessed over and over, and has even been produced in lab experiments.

    In the cases of public roads and the National Weather Service, we have decided that government has to administer the goods and collect for them. And collection is through mandated taxation. If we asked people to contribute what they felt they owed for road usage we would be driving on dirt roads in a very short time.

    What supporters of crowd funding and voluntary contributions are advocating is basically turning music (or other content) in to a public good and relying on voluntary contributions to support it. So far, crowd funding and voluntary contributions have fallen far short of the funding needs for musicians. This is not a surprise ; rather it is an expected outcome consistent with the understanding of what we expect if we rely on voluntary funding to support a public good.

    There is yet another reason that Economics tells us that crowd funding or dependence on voluntary contributions is a bad idea. An optimal market transaction has minimal transaction costs. Reliance on crowd funding requires that musicians spend a great deal of time and other resources researching funding options, attending fund raising events, and coming up with elaborate gimmicks (like some mentioned in the article) to attract the needed funds. The time and money spent could have been used producing music. An old fashioned pay for use scheme would have required far less time and resources.

    So it has been 14 years since Napster marked the beginning of the “everything is free” music era. If reliance on crowd funding or other forms of voluntary contributions has not worked so far – when will it?

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