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As Labels Struggle, Is Artist Income On The Rise?

NEW YORK (Hypebot) –
Yesterday, Bruce Houghton published a chart from the Times UK showing that while record labels are suffering, artists were making more money than ever from live performance. (see chart) Some Hypebot readers, as well as, Glenn Peoples from Billboard countered that the chart's "interpretation ignores the realities of superstar-driven ticket prices…Live music is a winner-take-all market. The value is concentrated at the top. Once an artist becomes a huge success on the road, he/she can command ticket prices well above the rates charged by sub-superstar artists. In the middle of the pack, ticket prices do not have the same flexibility."

Same as it ever was?

They are right of course, but only to a point. Are live earnings really any different than the rest of the industry? Isn't the same earnings concentration at the top also true in the recording industry – a few artists get rich while most don't see a dime.

The new music industry is not reflected in either the Times chart or any chart published in Glenn's Billboard. Most of it happens beyond the reach of Nielson and Ticketmaster.

I see mid-level artist income growing – perhaps not dramatically, but significantly. The growth is coming from increased direct to fan sales with fewer middlemen taking a piece of the pie. In many cases, the pie may be smaller than it was, but the artist is retaining more.

For a growing group of mid-level artists, increased income also extends to their live performances. The additional income comes not from higher ticket prices, but rather from their ability to perform over a wider region or even globally without the help of expensive and unreliable label promotion machines or radio airplay.

It's a brave new world out there and and it may have been misleading to publish that chart yesterday. No one has created a chart to measure the growth I'm seeing. But that doesn't mean it’s not there.