Wanna know just how much money a musician really makes?
Melbourne producer and DJ Nick Thayer might be signed to Skrillex’s OWSLA label but that certainly doesn’t mean he’s rolling in cash.
In a revealing Tumblr post (re-printed on FL sister site inthemix), Thayer has broken down the figures to show just how
much little musicians make. He uses his 2012 EP Like Boom – which was released via OWSLA and was the #2 overall release for 13 weeks on the world’s largest DJ and electronic music community, Beatport – as an example. Like Boom was “a comparative success” according to Thayer, but it failed to return a profit even though he sold selling nearly 13,000 tracks from the EP via Beatport, iTunes and other stores.
Thayer says he’s being “generous” when he estimates that each track sale was $2 but he uses that figure to simplify the maths. He estimates that 50 percent of the sales went directly to the retailer (Beatport, iTunes, etc) leaving him with a total income from the EP of $3673.50 (after he paid for sample clearances and split sales with his vocal and remix collaborators). From that figure Thayer paid a cut to his management (15 percent), mastering fees (approximately $150-$200 per track), artwork ($1000), and “a decent publicity campaign” ($300-$500). Ultimately, the EP – which Thayer says represented a year of work – actually ended up costing him money to release.
“People often think there’s a huge amount of money in this scene,” he writes. “There is, but it is very concentrated and in the hands of a very, very few people. The vast majority are on similar numbers to me, running on fumes most of the time to make this thing work. We do it because we love the absolute shit out of writing music, playing music and sharing music.”
As for touring, Thayer says he made $800 from nine shows across three weeks in the US after factoring in booking agent fees, tax, transportation costs, management costs and food. “This is not a sob story,” he stresses, urging fans to buy full EPs, instead of just one song. “This is me saying to you please, PLEASE support artists you like in any way you can think of … I want to say now thank you for every single person who has supported me in any of these ways. Who has bought my music, shown their friends, stuck stickers on things, come to a show or whatever.”
Last year FL conducted a special report into the finances of Australian musicians, speaking to an accountant with clients in the music industry, as well as members of Bluejuice and Bed Wettin’ Bad Boys.