Musicians are more likely to make money by streaming than by performing live, a music industry analyst said.

Mark Mulligan of MlDiA Research claims times have changed and streaming is poised to offer a bigger profit than concert performances. Only about 29 percent of live music revenue ends up in musicians’ pockets and they don’t make any money at all until they’ve already reached a certain level of success. Streaming, on the other hand, allows artists to keep more profit for themselves without having to share it with venues or other middlemen, Mulligan said.

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“Do not assume that we have arrived at your destination,” Mulligan said, referring to live events rather than recordings as the primary income driver for most musicians and the industry. “Add together all the pieces and you start to create an environment in which artists can see a more immediate direct return from streaming.”

Streaming revenue grew by $2.5 billion in 2016. Mulligan, who analyzes trends in music, online video and mobile content, said the live music business “has strong growth left in it, but that revenue is not evenly distributed, (so it) will likely slow in the near-ish future and has an underlying core spending trend that is largely flat. Streaming, on the other hand, is booming and will break the $10 billion mark this year.”

Big names in music can still make a fortune playing live – but they have to be just that: Big, Mulligan said. For the smaller guys, streaming might be where it’s at, especially as time goes on.

“Streaming simply needs more monetized users in the pot, especially paid subscribers,” Mulligan said. “That will come, but rather than just wait, more needs to be done now to help artists get more income from streaming.”

Among other things, there should be better pay rates for musicians, many who only earn 15 percent of label share, Mulligan said. He also said there needs to be more ways for musicians to make money on streaming, and more “artist-centric experiences” that will help them make a living with streaming.

“Add together all the pieces,” Mulligan said “and you start to create an environment in which artists can see a more immediate direct return from streaming.”

Maggie O'Brien

Maggie O'Brien

Maggie O'Brien has been a journalist for more than 15 years. She's covered everything from from crime to politics to fitness. Writing about bands and shows takes her back to the days of going to punk rock shows in the Midwest.
Maggie O'Brien

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