Research Outline

Independent Pop Music Artist 2


To identify the following:
a) 2-3 insights on why independent musicians are becoming the future of the music industry, with insights on either their growth, their earnings/income, and/or their motivations; and b) 2-3 insights on independent music business models.

Early Findings

Independent Musicians

  • Independent musicians are the fastest-growing segment of the global recorded music business and more musicians are choosing to go without the aid of a label.
  • A 2019 report found that "independent artists generated more than $643 million in 2018."


  • Independent artists earned an average of $12,860 a year from music, and roughly three-quarters of independent artists earned less than $10,000 a year from music.


  • Technological advancements allow independent artists to share their work with the world and "fuels their ability to make music and build their career at their own pace and with their own style."
  • 83% of independent artists said it's important for them to retain creative control over their music. These artists feel more empowered by having more control of their careers and no longer see signing to a label as necessary for success, though some artists see labels as a possible means to an end.
  • 53% of independent artists ranked achieving respect and recognition in their scenes as the top sign of success.
  • 50% of independent artists said that building up a fan base of any size is a marker of success and 37% of independent artists felt that building a large global fan base is a sign of success.
  • Artists who choose to make their living in music are also doing it out of their passion for music, rather than for commercial success.


  • "A survey found about 8 in 10 musicians do not earn enough from their music careers to not worry about their financial situation."
  • "About half of the independent musicians say they often have cash flow problems because their income isn't predictable."

Independent Music Business Models

1) Streaming / Accessibility Model

  • This is typically what more established, mainstream artists do. They make their "music as accessible and available as possible on all digital and streaming platforms to remove any barriers for music discovery".
  • Playlists are used as a tool to help people to find out about music.
  • This model is a "response to the fact that buying physical music has been on the decline over the past decade."

2) Sales-Driven / Direct-to-Fan Model

  • In this approach, the main income stream is through direct-to-fan music sales by limiting or restricting one's music distribution.
  • This could be done either by "windowing it, making it only available through direct purchase from the artist (digital and physical), or by using distribution/sales platforms where there is a limit on the number of song streams to maximize the income potential."
  • It’s theoretically a relatively faster way for artists to make a living, however, it is dependent on a developed online marketing strategy.

3) Subscription / Membership Model

  • "Another variation of the direct-to-fan model are sites like Patreon where fans pay a monthly subscription for exclusive content and access to the artist directly."
  • "Fans subscribe or pledge to an artist on a monthly basis, often with different pricing and rewards associated with various tiers."


  • For this hour, we were able to identify some insights on the growth of independent musicians, their earnings/income, and their motivations, as well as an initial overview of some independent music business models.
  • We can continue the research to add insights on how the identified independent music business models are monetized and/or the marketing/branding of these models.
  • Our research also found that one of the identified models depends on having a developed marketing strategy. If this is of interest, we can also research this topic further.
  • Feel free to add or select an option below.