Very well written letter. I encourage you to read the whole thing.
Letter to Emily White at NPR All Songs Considered. | The Trichordist
Artists can make money on the road (or its variant “Artists are rich”). The average income of a musician that files taxes is something like 35k a year w/o benefits. The vast majority of artists do not make significant money on the road. Until recently, most touring activity was a money losing operation. The idea was the artists would make up the loss through recorded music sales. This has been reversed by the financial logic of file-sharing and streaming. You now tour to support making albums if you are very, very lucky. Otherwise, you pay for making albums out of your own pocket. Only the very top tier of musicians make ANY money on the road. And only the 1% of the 1% makes significant money on the road. (For now.)
Over the last 12 years I’ve watched revenue flowing to artists collapse.
Recorded music revenue is down 64% since 1999.
Per capita spending on music is 47% lower than it was in 1973!!
The number of professional musicians has fallen 25% since 2000.
Of the 75,000 albums released in 2010 only 2,000 sold more than 5,000 copies. Only 1,000 sold more than 10,000 copies. Without going into details, 10,000 albums is about the point where independent artists begin to go into the black on professional album production, marketing and promotion.