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Report Claims 1% Of Artists Account For 77% Of All Record Revenue

Written by Greg Moskovitch on March 7, 2014

MIDiA Consulting have released a report titled The Death of the Long Tail: The Superstar Music Economy, which claims the top one percent of artists account for 77 percent of all recorded music income, which could spell the end of the web as a means for democratising the music economy.

MIDiA Consulting was co-founded by music industry professional Mark Mulligan to provide media and technology companies with viable market strategies. Mulligan previously served as a music analyst and senior research manager at Jupiter Research (later acquired by Forrester Research).

Writing on his Music Industry Blog, Mulligan says that while increases in digital sales seemingly bode well for the industry, the impact on artists is less clear, despite improved numbers from 2012 and artists’ share of total record income growing from 14 percent in 2000, to 17 percent in 2013.

“The music industry is a superstar economy,” writes Mulligan. “That is to say a very small share of the total artists and works account for a disproportionately large share of all revenues.” According to Mulligan, 77 percent of all artist recorded music income goes to just one percent of artists.

Mulligan says that the long tail (internet-based niche marketing), paired with the size and convenience of digital catalogues “should have translated into a dilution of the superstar economy effect,” but has instead resulted in a retail landscape similar to that which has always been.

“The marketplace has shown us that humans are just as much wandering sheep in need of herding online as they are offline,” writes Mulligan, adding that digital music services have, contrary to most popular predictions, actually tightened the grip of the ‘superstar’ system and not weakened it.

Mulligan says the reason for the continuing trend is a lack of “front-end display” for obscurer artists on most digital services, particularly on mobile devices, and the “Tyranny of Choice” plaguing consumers, whereby excessive choice actually hinders discovery of lesser-known artists.

Mulligan says improved programming will eventually have “a finite amount of impact” in directing profits towards the remaining tier of artists and urges digital music services to be brave enough to make editorial decisions about which content they choose to program and feature prominently.

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Source: Music Industry Blog

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