How Much Musicians Really Make in the Industry Part I)
No Foundation = Eventual Termination
The reason we’re so unimpressed with artists boasting about their imaginary funds and luxurious lifestyle is because unless we see a sustainable foundation behind the funds, we’re certain that these funds will dry up within a finite amount of time. The artists that naively believe they’ll be paid off the industry forever whilst not writing their songs, owning their masters, renegotiating their contracts, and/or starting their own side businesses will be tossed like a five dollar bill once they aren’t moving any units. In such a fickle industry, this is sure to happen to every artist. Then only when the money well runs dry do they stop to think about how little they really knew about handling business and managing money.
The truth is that a record label contract is only a stepping-stone. It can lead you to opportunities, but it will not in itself lead you to wealth. The money is in other branching endeavors such as the following:
- touring (which is why 50 Cent is always touring with G-Unit)
- song writing
- product lines
- real estate
- side businesses
A significant portion of Beyonce’s annual revenue comes from endorsements and song writing credits. Outkast members Andre 3000 and Big Boi continue to earn significant revenue off their highly successful album Speakerbox/ The Love Below due to their writing credits. The money never comes from album sales alone. Even Michael Jackson’s wealth was significantly subsidized with investments like the Beatles and other big artist’s catalogs.
The Reality: Crappy Cash Flow
It’s a sad reality, but the truth is that your average artist is in debt. While they may be diligently chipping off their debt, they’re constantly battling that reality. It’s embedded in their contracts, and there’s no escaping it. No matter how many albums they put out, no matter what label they’re switching to, and no matter what car they’re driving, the fact is that their bank account probably stands at $50,000 or below with maxed out credit cards abound.
Aspiring artists, do not give up on your dreams. A record label contract can be a stepping-stone. However, come up with your own blueprint before you sign any contract. Go over your terms with your own trustworthy lawyer. Think beyond the contract and album sales. Your money must come from other avenues if you’re going to make it. Be smart, and you’ll be legions ahead your peers.
*Image courtesy of Time Inc.
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