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How Technology Has Changed The Distribution Of Income Among Musicians

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See Music Superstars Are the New One Percenters: Huge stars like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift are dominating the concert-tour business like never before, as music’s top 1% takes home an increasingly large share of the pie by Neil Shah of The WSJ. Excerpts: "A small number of superstars like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift is gobbling up an increasingly outsize share of concert-tour revenues, as music’s biggest acts dominate the business like never before.Sixty percent of all concert-ticket revenue world-wide went to the top 1% of performers ranked by revenue in 2017, according to an analysis by Alan Krueger, a Princeton University economist. That’s more than double the 26% that the top acts took home in 1982.Just 5% of artists took home nearly the entire pie: 85% of all live-music revenue,

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See Music Superstars Are the New One Percenters: Huge stars like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift are dominating the concert-tour business like never before, as music’s top 1% takes home an increasingly large share of the pie by Neil Shah of The WSJ. Excerpts:

"A small number of superstars like Beyoncé and Taylor Swift is gobbling up an increasingly outsize share of concert-tour revenues, as music’s biggest acts dominate the business like never before.

Sixty percent of all concert-ticket revenue world-wide went to the top 1% of performers ranked by revenue in 2017, according to an analysis by Alan Krueger, a Princeton University economist. That’s more than double the 26% that the top acts took home in 1982.

Just 5% of artists took home nearly the entire pie: 85% of all live-music revenue, up from 62% about three decades earlier, according to Mr. Krueger’s research. “The middle has dropped out of music, as more consumers gravitate to a smaller number of superstars,” he writes in a new book, “Rockonomics,” set to come out in June. (Mr. Krueger died in March.)"

"Performers’ royalties—for acts big and small—are generally much smaller on streaming than on records, CDs or download sales, so artists have to turn to concert revenue for more of their income. And it’s only the superstars who have the ability to charge significantly more for tickets than their predecessors did a generation ago. That leaves non-superstar performers competing for a shrinking share of the concert pie.

The average ticket price in the U.S. jumped from $12 in 1981 to $69 in 2017, far outstripping inflation and driven by superstars, Mr. Krueger’s research indicates. Three tours alone—Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, and Beyoncé with Jay-Z—hauled in around $1 billion in concert-ticket revenue in 2018, up from the $600 million that 2008’s three highest-grossing tours brought in, according to Billboard Boxscore. Beyoncé and Jay-Z charged $117 a ticket on average, according to Pollstar, the concert publication. Taylor Swift? $119. (Ed Sheeran, by contrast, charged a relatively more modest $89.)

Meanwhile, at the bottom of the industry, the lowest 2,500 acts ranked by revenue grossed an average of about $2,500 in 2017 from concert tickets, out of the 10,808 touring acts that year that Mr. Krueger studied. There were 109 acts in the top 1%."

"Performers today generally generate about three-fourths of their income from concert tours, compared with around 30% in the 1980s and 1990s. While many artists have tried to increase ticket prices to compensate for smaller recorded-music revenues, the biggest stars have the most leverage.

Concerts generated a record-setting $10.4 billion in revenue last year"

"While the share of concert tickets sold by superstars has stayed relatively constant, “the actual ticket prices themselves have risen quite dramatically compared to everyone else,”"

"streaming-music services and social-media marketing have helped small acts, making it easier for emerging artists to find fans. But for performers in the middle market, particularly in genres like rock—which isn’t as popular on streaming as hip-hop—the reduced earnings from recordings and increased need to tour can be tough."

"Music venues often take a cut of 20% or higher of the merchandise, he says. By the end of a tour, merchandise sales can determine whether it was financially successful or not."

"The concert circuit is so jammed with artists competing for tour dollars that there’s even been a shortage of tour buses."

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