If you’re an indie artist, there’s a pretty good chance that you’re making at least some money from your recordings these days. The fact that TuneCore now has about $1 million a day being earned by its indie artists speaks volumes about how far the DIY musician has come in the last 5 years.
Indie artists are estimated to have earned around $643 million last year, which is up 37% from the previous year, according to Midea Research. TuneCore artists pulled down around $308 million of that, while CD Baby artists were at just over $100 million. That means that indie artist income now makes up about 3.4% of the music business.
That doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you consider that it’s about 18% of what Warner Music pulled in last year, it’s a significant chunk that promises to keep rising.
The fact of the matter is that fewer artists are drawn to major label deals these days since they can’t offer anything that most artists can’t do for themselves, at least in the beginning of their careers. Whether you have a label behind you or not, it takes a lot of work to establish yourself in the music industry and grow a fan base. You might as well take all the money if you’re going to work that hard.
A major record label is necessary when it comes to pushing an artist over the edge from star to superstar though. The infrastructure that a major label has in place just can’t be easily duplicated, unlike many of the other tasks that indie artists can get already.
Even though the TuneCore numbers sound great, it’s probably not time to quit your day job. The company distributes music for around 250,000 artists. As we’ve seen with most of the streaming services, it’s the 1% that gets most of the streams and therefore most of the money. It does provide hope that there is a path to making some dough from DIY though.
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