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Independent artists increased output during lockdown, but direct-to-fan opportunities still being under-utilised

By | Published on Thursday 1 October 2020


Digital distribution firm Amuse has published the results of a new survey of the independent artist community undertaken in partnership with consultancy MIDiA Research, revealing some general trends about self-releasing artists, and also some lockdown specific data. On the latter, the study reveals that one of the few upsides of the COVID lockdown is that artist productivity increased.

“Nearly 70% of artists spent more time writing or making music since the COVID-19 lockdown and a further 57% created more content for social media”, the company says based on its survey. “Another 36% of artists said they have been collaborating more online, and nearly 20% said they have been doing livestreaming performances. While it is still early days for livestreaming, it could represent a significant growth opportunity for independent artists”.

In terms of the many negatives of lockdown, 30% of those surveyed said that they were more worried about their finances since COVID struck, and the number of artists who emphasise touring activity as a key measure of success dropped, from 50% last time Amuse surveyed the artist community to 39%.

That only about a third expressed COVID-related financial concerns – and a similar number specifically said that they were not that concerned – is very possibly a sign that many people in the independent artist community do not make a full-time living from their music, even in the good times. Those artists therefore generally have other sources of income, while other work commitments often mean that touring is less likely to be a major part of their lives.

Nevertheless, half of the artists surveyed expressed concerns about the royalties they receive when their music is streamed, echoing calls in the wider artist and songwriter community for a review of the way digital dollars are shared out. Though, in the short term, artists might be more likely to generate extra income by really capitalising on direct-to-fan – something that all that extra creativity and content will help with.

And, according to Amuse’s survey, there is plenty of untapped potential in that domain. Only 8% of those surveyed are using Patreon as a way of monetising the fan relationship, with only 15% saying they were utilising any Patreon-style crowdfunding or tip-jar service.

Commenting on the study, Amuse boss Diego Farias said: “This report really shines a light on the significance of the independent and self-releasing artist sector, as well as the unique challenges it faces. The pandemic has displayed the need of a reinvented music industry, where artists have access to the tools they need to manage and grow their careers in an effective way, on their own terms. That’s something we’ve been dedicated to since day one at Amuse”.