Think famous singers are overpaid

What musicians earn from a CD

  • jeffVienna Apr 25, 2008 1:17 pm Answers

    Interesting article! Thanks for providing.
    How many rivets does a record company have to have in its repertoire in order for the huge income from the distribution of top acts to be pushed back into the red?

  • NL Apr 25, 2008 2:47 p.m. Answers

    Unfortunately, I have to object to the GEMA statement: I am one of the so-called "normal mortals" musicians and earn several thousand euros a year through GEMA. Anyone who denies the possibilities of GEMA remuneration for "small bands" should deal intensively with the matter instead of spreading half-truths. Keyword "M-Points".

    Otherwise: After a major release I decided to publish all the other albums myself and can only confirm that it pays off financially. Those who do not depend on the PR activities of a large company will definitely earn a lot more from an album.

  • carlos (delamar) Apr 25, 2008 2:57 pm Reply

    I didn't want to doubt that GEMA also pays normal mortal artists.

    But the question is as follows: Is GEMA, as an accountant, not overpaid with 6% of album sales? After all, we're talking about selling an album - not managing airplay financially ...

  • NL Apr 25, 2008 3:10 p.m. Answers

    In the model that was presented above and is quite common in the industry, 6% is a large proportion, at least compared to the income that the band generates here. On the other hand, one must not forget that a band with a major deal may generate less sales income, but has a large PR department + booking agency behind it. The sales income is put into perspective because well-attended concerts are played. All of this is a consequence of the CD production, so the CD sales can also be seen as financing the people who make the band's success possible. And tour revenues, regardless of whether it is about the "little band next door" or Rod Steward, are a lot higher than CD sales.

    In the case of the "self-publication model", the 6% is only a small proportion and, in my opinion, completely justified. Those who make full use of the possibilities of CD publication will learn to appreciate the work of GEMA (and GVL).

  • Marc Weissenberger Apr 25, 2008 3:20 pm Answers

    Interesting article, but I also think it's important to differentiate between a major label deal and GEMA, even if such a deal inevitably involves a GEMA / GVL membership.

    I am not a supporter of GEMA myself, but it goes to great lengths to get the fees. This results in enormous administrative costs. The GEMA employees have to go through every popeldisse, cafes with music, all providers and portals on the Internet, etc. and collect the money there. This is a logistically and financially very expensive undertaking.

    As far as the labels are concerned, in my opinion their situation has changed enormously in the last 10 years and, precisely because of the new marketing and sales opportunities via the Internet, I do not see the sum of 50% (label and sales) of the income as justified.
    Because what else does a label do great? It provides its name and uses its still existing monopoly position with the radio and TV stations to sample them in a targeted manner.

    From my experience as a music editor, however, I can frankly say that the sampling work of the major labels is in no way better (rather worse) than that of the small labels. On the contrary, with their many "soft release contracts" they create huge mountains of promo rubbish in the broadcasters, because the "soft releases" are simply tied up in a "Ferner-Liefen package" and with the "hard- Releases "(99% releases of already established" stars ") are sent to the editorial offices. And de facto it looks like this, that you simply have a stack of CDs from all imaginable styles that have neither an information sheet or anything like that. It then looks on the editorial table like on the grab table in the media market. And of course everything that doesn't even have a name falls at the back.

    I really advise every band to release themselves and specifically!

    The musician Da Loco from Zurich, for example, had a major deal and was "softreleased", which brought him next to nothing and he canceled the deal again. Now he releases himself and according to his statements a lot more successfully.

  • carlos (delamar) Apr 25, 2008 3:29 pm Answers

    ... to that extent you can see the CD sale as financing the people who make the band's success possible.

    Completely correct. Provided that the people in a band actually enable success, because not all bands and artists signed with a label are successful.

    And then the question arises again whether the distribution of the percentages is fair, or whether labels etc. don't just take too much out - simply because they can.

    I would just like to say that all this work could be outsourced as a normal mortal band to external collaborators / employees who could serve with a similar success, but cost the band much less.

    The world is at the feet of bands today in the form of the Internet and as we all know, sales of downloads are steadily declining to the detriment of CD sales.

    So what added value does a label and a sales department as well as a trade offer me, which together eat away 72% of my income?

  • NL Apr 25, 2008 3:43 p.m. Answers

    In a nutshell: there are bands and styles of music that rely on a big machine. A pop band has a harder time selling their own CDs and booking concerts (I mean those that make money) than a jazz band.

    For some musicians it makes sense to forego CD revenues in favor of the PR of a large record company.

    Of course, this is not a guarantee of success, but it can open one or the other door. There is always risk. And every attempt to make a dream come true costs money.

    From my experience, I can only confirm that you can do all the tasks (press sampling, marketing, graphics, booking) yourself wonderfully if you are willing to invest a large part of your working time in it. At my "weddings" I hung in front of the computer 8 hours a day and played gigs three days a week. What falls by the wayside is the creativity and the time to work on the artistic qualities. Everyone has to decide for themselves.

    As an aside: CDs are sold at concerts! It still works great there, and for the band without a label or distribution it's a real treasure trove. Otherwise, sell digitally via iTunes & Co (see also the recently published article here about TuneCore), then you save yourself the additional costs of paying GEMA. ;-)

  • gerd Apr 25, 2008 6:44 pm Answers

    what sources are your graphics based on?

  • carlos (delamar) Apr 25, 2008 9:48 pm Answers

    "... and the Federal Agency for Civic Education has the answer to this question ..."

    That's where the graphics come from ...

    The machinery of the music industry has its raison d'etre, of course, and it's not as if they weren't working towards success.
    With the articles here on the website I only want to sensitize musicians to the fact that label and record deal is not the only way, it's just an option.

    Playing concerts is traditionally the ultimate way for bands to earn money, I fully agree with you.

  • gerd Apr 25, 2008 10:12 pm Answers


  • Heiko May 4th, 2008 7:23 am Answers

    I must have missed something. With all the bands I have contact with, concerts are a damn good thing (ego balm), but you are happy when you have a black zero with lost petrol and maybe you can go out to eat ...

    Admittedly, I'm talking about the Hobby League.

  • carlos (delamar) May 4th, 2008 6:18 pm Answers

    I guess that the income from concerts is directly proportional to the size of the fan base.

  • Martina May 5th, 2008 4:48 pm Answers

    Are the graphics really exact? Does GEMA put "its" 6% in its pocket? As far as I know, most of this money flows back to the artists via the GVL.
    Don't trust any statistics that you haven't falsified yourself ;-)

    I don't see GEMA as the bogeyman.

    I see certain publishers and labels as problematic, who trick unsuspecting artists into unfavorable contracts or who silently reuse products even though they do not actually have the rights to do so.

    Especially the "undiscovered pearls", that is, small bands or unknown composers, are sometimes so happy that somebody else misplaces them or performs them, that they let themselves be ripped off with naive eyes or that they waive their rights because they simply do not know that it is YOUR rights are.

  • carlos (delamar) May 6, 2008 1:04 am Answers

    I never wanted to question the raison d'être of an organization like GEMA. GEMA only becomes a bogeyman through questionable actions such as collecting 30% more when DJs play music from a burned data carrier!?! As a reminder: when you buy a blank disc, burner and computer, you already have to pay considerable additional costs for copyrights.

    And I am fully of your opinion, Martina, that the labels and distributors are very happy to exploit their position of power. That's why it's so important to show musicians new ways of self-marketing.

  • Heiko May 06, 2008 6:44 am Answers

    Also exciting: If you are in GEMA, you can forget about Creative Commons.

  • carlos (delamar) May 7, 2008 12:18 am Answers

    Or also: GEMA members are not allowed to sell GEMA-free music ...

  • Heiko May 7th, 2008 6:38 am Answers

    ... or give away.

    GEMA is suitable m.M. also due to the lack of flexibility (keyword own homepage) only for professional musicians. Unless something has moved lately.

  • carlos (delamar) May 7th, 2008 10:55 am Answers

    When it comes to the homepage, I think you can take some time off and there is also a discounted tariff for podcasters. But that's really all very inflexible in terms of handling.

    And it is precisely this bond of "all or nothing" that I find downright sect-like.

  • Boris Jul 17, 2009 6:39 pm Answers

    In my opinion, collecting societies have for the most part the same problem. The whole concept is far too opaque and inflexible to be able to respond to the changing technological possibilities.

    Another problem - especially with young bands - is that the newly released platforms for young bands in the Internert are not already designed to include the artists in the added value.

    New recommendation concepts and algorithms (content-based, collaborative filtering and expert systems) would result in a super long-tail approach.

    I am firmly convinced that the situation on the music market will improve over the next few years - should the new opportunities for value creation be implemented.


  • Carlos (delamar) Jul 18, 2009 12:53 pm Reply

    The thing with the collecting societies ... yes, they are intransparent and, above all, inflexible. On the one hand, this is due to the fact that they are already too big and inflated for flexibility to be an option. On the other hand, these "chambers" and "guilds" seem to have developed an end in themselves that takes a back seat to the real meaning.

    Will the future look better for earning money with music as a musician? We just have to keep watching.

  • sally Sep 01, 2009 2:50 pm Answers

    compliments to the author! super eloquent and informed :-)

  • OrientalStyle Nov 11, 2011 10:10 PM

    Hi Carlos, thanks for the contribution.
    What would really interest me, however, would be the whole thing in a vinyl production.
    E.g. a 12 with 2 to 3 tracks for about € 8.50.
    I'm a musician in an electronic underground scene
    active and consider selling my sound under my own label.
    With such genres it is not common to sell the stuff on CD. As a rule, this is sold on dubplates with a quantity of 500 to 1000 pieces.
    I would be grateful for a graphic for vinyl production

    • Carlos San Segundo (delamar) Nov 12, 2011 7:56 pm

      Vinyls hardly play a role these days and if you are your own boss, then you can determine the proportions yourself anyway.

  • Jochen Jan 26, 2012 1:23 AM Answers

    Hello ... nice graphics ... where does that come from? And how do you get 14% sales tax? Apart from the fact that it ALWAYS depends on the negotiating skills of the individual contracting parties, I would be interested in how the individual percentage points can be derived.

  • Munkbude Oct 5th, 2013 11:34 PM

    The remarks on GEMA testify either to criminal ignorance or malice:
    GEMA does not "earn" 6%, but collects this money on behalf of the authors / music publishers of the songs. A flat fee is retained from this, the amount of which is shown transparently. Regardless of how you feel about the amount of money paid out and its use (pot for social purposes, etc.), the comparison with the accountant is so obviously wrong that I feel ashamed of others. Why does the mind of so many keep failing when it comes to GEMA questions? Why is the music scene inundated with this nonsense?
    Think about it or get some information (not with conspiracy theorists) - it can't be that difficult!

  • Dan Dec 25, 2016 10:36 am Reply

    But there are also indie labels with 50/50 deals, you just have to search.