Streaming transformed the music industry, sending widely accepted measures of success like radio plays and national charts wayward. With more artists releasing music in a market that continues to grow increasingly complex and demanding, artist-friendly and data-driven distributor and artist services platform Amuse teamed up with MIDiA Research to conduct a study on what sustainable success looks like in 2024 – from the artist’s point of view.

“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. 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,” explains Sofia Green, Director of Communications at Amuse. “We hope to shed light on what artists themselves consider success metrics today, as well as what type of partners they prefer to build their careers.”

Ultimately, the report finds that for artists, success boils down to five universal career goals: sustainability, recognition, progression, longevity, and legacy. In 2023, more artists than ever sought to build a career out of making music, yet less than 5% were signed to a label. Post-label artists were the fastest growing segment–pointing to the need for redefined metrics for success, independent of the vested interests of the industry machine.

This push and pull of commercial success versus artists’ creative fulfilment and achievement of their creative goals has led to a relentless “always on” cycle. While current industry success metrics are often short-term goals attached to organizations rather than individual artists, artists end up in a demanding systemic cycle. For instance, labels and publishers expect a quick return on investment following a new release. With more music being distributed than ever before, artists feel pressure to release more music more often to keep up, all while promoting it on social media and engaging with their fans. With this workload, they are often left with little to no time to focus on developing their craft in order to attain their own definitions of creative success.

Given these conflicting interests, it is no surprise that 95.5% of artists are artist-direct, meaning they release their music independently through a distributor or artist platform. When asked about their ideal partners, artists (full-time professionals as well as music creators in general) preferred to work with distributors with label services, followed by self-serve platforms, and independent labels. Only 6% picked major labels.

“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. We see this on a daily basis as we work with breaking talent who are looking for a modern partner, designed for today’s landscape,” says John Dahlbäck, Head of A&R at Amuse. “Amuse presents a powerful alternative to the traditional industry. Our flexible funding and artist services support the unique and multi-faceted goals of success held by artists, while letting them remain in charge of their masters and creative freedom.”

“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.” – Keith Jopling, Consulting Director, MIDiA Research

Read the full report from Amuse and MIDiA Research at LINK.


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