On music and money: for unsigned musicians based in London

I spent the last couple of hours (not always easy to retrieve the numbers) trying to figure out whether with music I am at a financial loss, or not.
There are only two sources of cashflow at the moment: releases and gigs.

The final balance shows +£0.13 in close to 2 years.

Here’s how.


Since I started taking music TO A WHOLE NEW LEVEL (for me) I produced 2 releases:

  1. Broken and Uneven (album, 11 songs), released on 02/06/14
  2. What’s In Your Head? (single), released on 17/11/15

Being 100% DIY at this stage, the only costs I incurred** were those of the aggregator that I used (Record Union).

The album distribution cost me $60 (2 years of distribution + one-off fee) to date and the single $10.42 (1 year distribution + one-off fee).
For a total of $70.42.

So how much did I earn for my 2 releases?
Look at this table; it is the export from my account on Record Union.


I got $66.26.

Making a loss of $4.15, today equivalent to £2.87.


I started gigging July 2014 and by September 2015 I had played 31 gigs.

Assuming that I buy a couple of drinks (hihihihi) and take the tube every time I play I could roughly estimate having spent about £248 (£4 X 2 X 31) for alcohol and £148.8 (£2.4 X 2 X 31) for transportation.
A total of £396.8.

Being a registered member at PRS, which is an institution that helps songwriters and composers earn money for their music, I can log all my gigs and claim some royalties for having played them.

31 gigs got me to earn £149.80 from PRS.
On top of that I remember getting paid £50 once and will estimate a generous £20 for other 10 times which will skyrocket me to having earned a total of £399.80.

Making a profit of £3.

Final considerations

Taking my loss from the releases (£2.87) and my gain from the gigs (£3) I made a profit of £0.13.

If I had made a shit-load of streams on Spotify, say 1 million, I’d have made $6,933…still not that much!

I conclude that at my level it is really really really important to keep costs down and in check; together with having A REAL source of income (aka another job).

**For simplicity, I have taken N assumptions and disregarded a number of costs: my house, my gear, my time. Technically you could say I am at a loss then BUT I would argue that I would have spent most of this money anyway.


2 thoughts on “On music and money: for unsigned musicians based in London

  1. Thanks for sharing! Honesty is good. It’s a sorry state of affairs in the music industry when talented artists such as yourself make a profit of THREE POUNDS from 2 years of hard grafting and gigging. I’d be much more relaxed about the situation if *everyone* in the chain were doing it for the love. But that’s not the case; bars and venues, promoters, alcohol suppliers etc. are all profiting from your free labour, in exchange for exposure. Gah.

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