Update: Featured on The Guardian blog.
Update 2: If you’re in the independent music sector you can still contribute to this important survey. It will take about 60 seconds, and we’re giving out prizes. Click here!
Dizzyjam, the world’s leading direct-to-fan merch platform has conducted a survey of over 300 independent musicians, DJs, producers and bands. The results have shown that while record sales are down, artists are making up the shortfall through merchandise and live performances. However almost a quarter (23%) actually lose money on their musical endeavours, and less than five percent of them made a living. 72 percent reported making a small profit, but not enough to live on. While for those of you actually busting a gut in the music industry already it may be a case of “no sh1t, Sherlock!”, we think it’s very interesting to finally put some figures on what we kind of already suspected.
And as we enter the digital age, and Prince gives his CDs away for free with newspapers, the importance of downloads becomes clear with more than a third (34%) claiming to make more money from downloads now than 2 years ago, and 23 percent reporting physical sales down over the last 24 months. What’s interesting, however, is that there appears to be an upsurge in live music, with a third (33%) reporting making more from gigs than they were two years ago.
Kat Arney is an example of a musician trying to make a living through music, but ultimately relying on wages from her day job to pay the rent. “I play in a couple of bands, as well as doing weddings and functions as a harpist. I’m always busy, and my bands are starting to get reasonably well-paid gigs and sell CDs, but it doesn’t go far among 5 or 6 people once we’ve covered our expenses like travel and post-gig kebabs”, says Kat. “I simply couldn’t support myself as a musician without my day job as a copywriter and web editor, and as I work in the charity sector, things are tight enough as it is. It’s tough balancing a full-time job with my secret double life, especially having to turn up to morning business meetings after headlining a gig the night before and using all my holiday allowance for gigs and recording sessions.”
The study, conducted by Dizzyjam.com, has highlighted the importance of merchandise and touring to bolster dwindling incomes across the independent music sector.
In its first few months of trading, Dizzyjam.com has sold t-shirts and hoodies on behalf of musicians across four continents, by providing a simple and free route to market for people who make, play or promote music. Many bands are making hundreds of pounds a month already which they are putting towards studio time, promotions and equipment. Or just simply paying the rent. They’ve seen a 42% increase in signups in the last 3 months as bands look to increase their income.
The Cardiff, UK based company allows members of the music industry to upload their logo to the site, which in turn creates for them their own online shop with products featuring that image. Dizzyjam.com is the brainchild of Neil Cocker, recently noted as one of Wales top young entrepreneurs, and Dafydd Griffiths, former key staff member at the world’s oldest record store, Spillers.
307 people were questioned as part of the survey. 82 percent were from the UK, 12 percent from North America, 4 percent from Europe and 2 percent from Australia. 71.8% reported that they made some money, but not enough to live on. 23.2% reported they lost money through their music endeavours, with 4.3% reporting making a living through music. The remainder didn’t answer the question. Actual incomes weren’t recorded.