Jun 11, 2024 2 min read

Musicians now see success from a more long-term perspective, study finds

New research shows that traditional metrics of success like chart positions and radio airplay are no longer of concern to most musicians. Instead, finding an audience of any size and building a sustainable career are the highest priorities for artists in the streaming age

Musicians now see success from a more long-term perspective, study finds

Streaming has changed how musicians measure their own success, with existing metrics like radioplay and chart positions too short-term in their viewpoints. This is according to a new report published by digital distributor Amuse and research company MIDiA.

With more artists releasing music than ever before, the vast majority - around 95% - are independent. All but 2% of those have never signed to a label. These artists prize connecting with listeners - regardless of the size of that audience - and creating a sustainable career most highly. Their outlook and view of what is successful is more long term, less predicated on finding fame, and largely uninterested in traditional music industry metrics.

“We started tracking the growth of the independent and DIY movement already in 2019 together with MIDiA, and are happy to announce our third deep dive into the market”, says Amuse’s Director Of Communications Sofia Green. “Using MIDiA’s fifth annual survey of global independent music creators, along with in-depth interviews with artists and secondary research on longevity and success, we were able to re-evaluate what success looks like for the modern-day music artist”.

As well as hoping to “shed light on what artists themselves consider success metrics today”, she adds that the research provides insight into “what type of partners they prefer to build their careers”.

Good news for Amuse, it’s not labels that artists are most likely to approach. The majority prefer to maintain their independence, working with distributors or artist services companies. The third preference was indie labels, while just 6% of artists surveyed said that they would want to sign to a major label. 

“Only one out of five artists in the survey consider being signed by a record label as a metric of success, which represents a big shift in the industry”, says Amuse Head Of A&R John Dahlbäck. This represents a major shift, the report reckons, and shows that the record industry is currently not set up to work with musicians in the way that they would like.

MIDiA’s Consulting Director, Keith Jopling says, “Over the past decade, the music industry’s approach to talent discovery, marketing, and artist careers has become too data obsessed, near sighted, and damaging to the industry’s lifeblood. Artists are being sold short and, in turn, this has created a dysfunctional creative-commercial ecosystem”.

With so many people now making and releasing music, there is still a place for companies that can help musicians to navigate the industry and find their audience. But, concludes the study, that should be based on a more long-term outlook. Industry partners should support artists in seeking to create a sustainable career, rather than short-term successes that push them into a cycle of being ‘always on’ as they jump from target to target.

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