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A Musical Puzzle

Posted by: Michael Mandel on June 23

Musicians have always claimed that they were exploited by the record industry. I was just looking at some numbers that quantify the “degree of exploition”. Here are the two numbers:

Spending on recorded music  $11.9 billion  *
Total annual wages
paid by sound recording  $1.5 billion **
*2003 data from "Communications Industry Forecast and Report"
from Veronis Suhler Stevenson
**2003 data from Bureau of Labor Statistics

That’s an enormous gap—almost $12 billion in revenues on the one hand, and $1.5 billion in wages on the other. And yes, at least some of that $10.5 billion difference is going to musicians in the form of royalties, rather than wages. But it just goes to show how much risk is shifted onto musicians.

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Michael Mandel, BW's award-winning chief economist, provides his unique perspective on the hot economic issues of the day. From globalization to the future of work to the ups and downs of the financial markets, Mandel-named 2006 economic journalist of the year by the World Leadership Forum-offers cutting edge analysis and commentary.

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