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Would you like fries with that digital download?

Earlier this week, the always enjoyable blog on data visualization Information Is Beautiful posted an interesting infographic on musician earnings via current popular distribution channels. Designer and Author David McCandless took on the question “How much money do musicians really get paid in this new digital marketplace?” He combined data culled from a previous post on the subject at The Cynical Musician, combined it with some of his own research and then illustrated the amount of sales/streams needed to reach the US monthly minimum wage benchmark ($1,160) via each channel.


There are a few issues I have off the bat with the graphic. First off, calling it “Selling Out” is only going to raise the ire of everyone involved (artist and label alike), and seems to imply musicians by trade should not make money off their music. Additionally, for smaller, more independent labels, bands often make more than .09 off of downloads from iTunes. There are still some 50/50 rev splits in the music world, which after the iTunes cut, can bring a band up to .39 per song sold.

McCandless does give us a few disclaimers. First, that the figures do not include publishing royalties that are paid to composers of songs, and second, that researching the data is very difficult since “Industry figures are hard to get hold of. Some are even secret.”  There is already some reasonable discussion regarding the accuracy of the data in the comments on the original post as well as some constructive conversation over at Mashable (if you have time to read between the rants). Additionally, you could be the first ever commenter on Lagmag, and start your own conversation about it below!

But overall, as a general snapshot of the current digital marketplace, its an interesting graphic. Plus it looks, uh… beautiful, and we love that kind of thing here at Ladies & Gentlemen.

See the full (giant) infographic after the jump.


Sources: Information is Beautiful // David McCandless // The Cynical Musician

Category: Design, Music

Tagged: , , , , ,

One Comment

  1. Zach
    April 16, 2010 | 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Something else to note, this chart seems to assume that one person is receiving royalties and earning minimum wage. Imagine splitting these profits among three, four, five, or more band members.

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