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BarefootChris's avatar

How much profit do bands make off of CD's?

Asked by BarefootChris (118 points ) July 24th, 2010

I’ve been having a bit of a guilt trip lately about downloading music off of sites like Bittorrent or using Limewire. How much money do band’s actually make off of their CD’s? My issue is that I think that bands (mostly indie) which I listen to truly deserve to be compensated for their efforts, not their record companies. What’s the split between the record labels and the bands in terms of who gets what off of CD sales?

Someone once told me that the majority of a band’s income comes from playing live gigs? Can anyone confirm?

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6 Answers

Mamradpivo's avatar

I’ve always heard that artists get far more revenue from touring and selling merchandise than selling CDs. That said, buy the album, give them a few bucks and send a message to the label that people support good music with their money.

Sarcasm's avatar

I asked a similar question with a different angle here. The wonderful @Laureth linked me to this infographic. Later on, I found this which is more focused on record labels, but within it, it does dissect the price of a CD.

What I’ve learned after searching around the internet is that artists make VERY little off of an album. Live gigs (and the merch there I’m assuming) are where most of the money seems to be.

Seek's avatar

Sadly, very little, and with the decreasing number of album sales, it’s becoming even less.

The major thing is that a band’s popularity is still widely judged by their album sales, and that can be a determining factor in whether they are fought over by record companies, or if they find themselves selling out huge venues and still having to keep a job at home in their off-time because they signed the first deal that came along.

Definitely go to the show, buy the merch… but illegal downloads are only hurting your favorite bands. It may cost them only their percentage of songwriting credit, but it can ultimately cost them much more. At least spring for the licensed iTunes or Amazon download

BarefootChris's avatar

Hmm, what a crappy situation. They don’t make much money off their CD’s, so many people download them illegally, but their popularity is judged by the number sold : /

I’ll probably end up going with a combination of both physical CD’s and digital iTunes stuff. Reluctant to shell out the money, but I think the world has forgotten that music actually costs something!

CMaz's avatar

As much as they can get away with.

drClaw's avatar

Unless you are putting out your own album you won’t make any money as long as sales are below 3–4 million copies. All your money will come from live concerts and shows.

Basically this is how record companies work:
– 20 bands signed
– Each makes a record for $x
– 18 of the bands fail completely
– 1 band is barely staying afloat

The last band becomes successful. Now this band has probably only spent half a million on their record, but the way record companies write contracts they will use CD sales to recoup not only their recording costs, but the recording costs of the 19 other failed or near failed bands.

What it comes down to is this, if you sign with a major/semi-major label you should never expect CD money. On the other hand however with digital recording becoming what it is and social networking, you have the opportunity do it on your own. It’s harder, but at least your success isn’t paying for others failures.

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