Money from Music: Survey Evidence on Musicians’ Revenue and Lessons About Copyright Incentives

According to the incentive theory of copyright, financial rewards are what the public trades for the production of creative works. To know whether this quid pro quo is working, one needs to know how much the creators are getting from the bargain. Based on an original, nationwide survey of more than 5,000 musicians, this Article addresses one of the key links in the incentive theory’s chain of logic. For most musicians, copyright does not provide much of a direct financial reward for what they are producing currently. The survey findings are instead consistent with a winner-take-all or superstar model in which copyright motivates musicians through the promise of large rewards in the future in the rare event of wide popularity.