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An Aristocracy of Musicians

Alexander Reed Kelly
Associate Editor
In December 2010, Alex was arrested for civil disobedience outside the White House alongside Truthdig columnist Chris Hedges, Pentagon whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg, healthcare activist Margaret Flowers and…
Alexander Reed Kelly

The top 1 percent of artists take 77 percent of the income earned in the music industry, a new report found.

Consequence of Sound reports:

According to the report entitled, The Death of the Long Tail: The Superstar Music Economy, the disparity is complicated by recent developments in the industry. While the income from all recorded music fell by over a billion dollars between 2000 and 2013, artists’ share rose from 14% to 17% in the same span of time. Still, as the report explains, the disproportionate incomes stem from the behaviors and attitudes of fans/consumers, who, instead of embracing the plentiful choices brought forth by the digital music revolution, “have actually been completely overloaded by it.”

The report continues:

The concept of the long tail seemed like a useful way of understanding how consumers interact with content in digital contexts, and for a while looked like the roadmap for an exciting era of digital content. Intuitively the democratization of access to music – both on the supply and demand sides – coupled with vastness of digital music catalogues should have translated into a dilution of the Superstar economy effect. Instead the marketplace has shown us that humans are just as much wandering sheep in need of herding online as they are offline.

In fact digital music services have actually intensified the Superstar concentration, not lessened it (see figure below). The top 1% account for 75% of CD revenues but 79% of subscription revenue. This counter intuitive trend is driven by two key factors: a) smaller amount of ‘front end’ display for digital services – especially on mobile devices – and b) by consumers being overwhelmed by a Tyranny of Choice in which excessive choice actual hinders discovery.

Read more here.

— Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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