Here's How Much Musicians Get From Your Dollars

The music industry has always been a monster, even when it was royal courts patronizing the Mozart kids. In 2017, U.S. audiences spent $43 billion on music, including streaming services, merch, concerts, and (yes) CD sales. Being a recording artist has always been a thinly paying career for the vast majority of musicians, but new data is showing just how much value they generate — and how little they take home.

This week, Citigroup released a report analyzing the state of the music industry, which has maybe only been matched in existential doomsday predictions by the book industry. The good news is that revenues have returned to a peak last seen in 2006. The even better news is that artists got an entire 12 percent of those returns.

Yeah. That's the good news. In 2000, it was only 7 percent.

This isn't because Spotify figured out a more equitable business model for artists either. The majority of that increase for performers comes from concert sales. (If you think business travel is hard on your health, try touring.) Instead, the remaining 88 percent of all those billions gets siphoned off by record labels, streaming companies, and other distributors.

Even if you're not a musician, it's a relatable conundrum. Employees tend to generate about three times the value they're actually paid, in order to keep a business profitable. Remember that the next time you set up a strategy to ask for a raise and get paid what you're worth.