Thursday, April 15, 2010

How Many Music Sales Equal Minimum Wage?


You probably can't read the chart on the left, but it truly is an eye opener. It was created by Stan Schroeder and posted on Mashable yesterday. The chart describes the number of sales of various music product required to make a monthly wage of $1,160, or the minimum wage that you'd likely make at Micky D's.

Let me outline what the chart says. For more detail, see it at Mashable.

To make the minimum wage for one month, or $1,160, you need to sell:

143 self pressed CD's (income $8 each)

155 CD's from cdbaby (income $7.50 each)

1,161 retail CDs with a high-end label royalty rate (income $1 each)

1,229 iTunes album downloads (income $.94 each)

1,562 MP3 downloads via cdbaby (income $.74 each)

2,044 MP3 downloads via cdbaby via iTunes (income $.57 each)

3,871 retail CDs, with a low-end label royalty rate (income $.30 each)

12,399 individual track downloads from iTunes or Amazon (income $.09 each)

849,817 plays per month on Rhapsoday (income $.0022 each)

1,546,667 plays per month on last.fm (income $.005 each)

4,549,020 plays per month on Spotify (income $.00043 each)

This makes working at McDonalds start to look like a wise career choice. Still want to try to make music for a living?

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3 comments:

ninetwelve said...

I'd love to see a breakdown of these numbers by the average market share of each medium / outlet. Like if 80% of sales are CD and 20% are digital and then bythe market share broken down into iTunes, Rhapsody plays etc.

For example what should an artist consider the minimum goal with each release if they are using tune-core, CD baby and selling CDs direct at shows / through the website?

ninetwelve said...

Actually- lets go further. Lets include cost of production as well.

Lets assume the most bands have access to a home studio- not unreasonable today for the serious musician. This nulls out studio costs.

But mixing and mastering are paramount. Your average indie band is gonna want to do this on the cheap- so lets set aside 500 for mixing and 300 for mastering. And you're going to want to have silver backed CDs with a barcode for. Short run CD-Rs are cool for demos- but an official release should be done properly. On the low end 1000 replication. You're up to 1800 minimum per release.

If you're following the new release schedule that's 1800 every 4-6 months. So at a minimum, two releases per year, that's 3200 for physical disks.

Then theres the cost of digital distribution. Lets take tunecore's model and rough that out to an extra 50 every six months. 3300 per year for an EP / Full Length on a reasonable schedule. Break that down into monthly costs its 275 per month. If you take "minimum wage" to be your profits then you need to be raking in roughly 1500 a month.

If we assume 20% of your sales are going to be digital and the rest direct sales at shows or through your website then that means you should be selling:

150 Pressed CDs and 320 iTunes downloads a month. Every month.

If we're talking about a band's first release then we're saying they need to sell 900 Pressed Units and 1920 downloads to afford their next album AND still make minimum wage.

Hmm. Time to think about printing T-shirts and doing special edition releases kids! 1000 true fans can't cover the spread on media alone!

Cupid said...

Depends on either the terms your under or flowing (meaning contracts or deals)

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