This chart (originally in the UK Times and I found it on Hypebot) shows two things. Firstly, and unsurprisingly, recorded music revenues are shrinking both for labels and artists, and revenues from live performances are rising. Secondly, and this is the surprising bit, for artists the growth in income from live music is outstripping the decline in revenues from recorded music, meaning that they are actually better off, at least since 2004.
The one question about this data, as discussed in this hypebot piece, is whether the top artists are taking nearly all the live revenues and all the other artists aren’t moving forward at all. My intuition is that the market for live music is growing for all types of artists.
This is another example of a story we have seen elsewhere on the internet of middlemen getting cut out of a market leaving other participants better off even as the market shrinks over all. In the music industry record labels are the middlemen. If we think about TV and film, the equivalent middleman companies are traditional broadcasters and maybe the Hollywood studios. I wonder if in a few years we will see a chart similar to this one with their revenues declining.
Of course live performances won’t compensate for lost programme/movie sales in the same way for TV and film as it has for the music industry. Instead I suspect the industry will find new blends of advertising, pay per view, and subscription models which allow the more efficient channelling of cash from viewers to producers.