Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Are HMV’s woes really detrimental for musicians?

Around the same time as the story broke about HMV going into adminstration in the UK (and receivership in Ireland), a survey appeared which threw some interesting light on the news of another high-profile music retail casualty from the point …

Fri, Jan 18, 2013, 09:58

   

Around the same time as the story broke about HMV going into adminstration in the UK (and receivership in Ireland), a survey appeared which threw some interesting light on the news of another high-profile music retail casualty from the point of view of musicians.

Peter DiCola from the Northwestern University in Illinois spoke to 5,000 muscians in the United States about a variety of subjects, from copyright issues to earnings.

According to DiCola’s findings, income from record sales accounts for just six per cent of an average musician’s income. Naturally, as with all polls or surveys, there are a bundle of caveats given the nature of the respondants to this survey, but it does give one pause for thought especially given other events this week.

As we know, HMV’s troubles don’t just affect the company’s unfortunate 4,500 employees who may well lose their jobs as a result, but also those who work for the record labels and film companies who remain the company’s main suppliers. The knock-on effect means it’s squeaky bum time for many awaiting payment for sales made in the busy last quarter of 2012.

For musicians, though, does the potential disappearance of HMV’s 250 shops really matter? Given that their revenue now comes from a myriad of other sources – and given the small proportion from record sales – should musicians simply shrug and move on? After all, as we’ve seen from various stories in 2012, they’re not going to become millionaries on the back of royalty cheques from streaming services either.

Of course, the HMV story is different for musicians who have record deals because the labels rely on sales to survive. But it may not be as big a deal for independent musicians. After all, despite the wailing and fuming which greeted the closure of various indie stores in Ireland, the local music community here is thriving now more than ever before.

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