Is Music devalued by Society?

Is Music devalued by Society?
I have a question for all of your composers and music artists out there. Why is there so little money in the music industry vs for example the sports industry.

  1. How much do people consume music per week vs sports?
    I would say in average WAY more consumption on music in the world than sports. Most people consume hours and hours of music every week.

  2. More money in sports vs music?
    Yes I would certainly say so…I would estimate there are 100’s of thousands, perhaps even millions of people in the world that do some kind of sport, and that can make a living wage from their skills.

Let’s compare that with: How many music composers and artists make a full time living from their music, in comparison to people doing sports?

Data to support my argument:
The global sports market reached a value of nearly $488.5 billion in 2018
The global music industry was worth $19.1 billion in 2018

That means you could argue that people (the world) values sports at 2557% more than sports.

What are your thoughts?


in France there is a lot of money for Sport (soccer, football, tennis and other)
when you look at the budget for the culture it seems to be ridiculous
it is very difficult to devellop music in france, a lot of composer have left france to go to US or other country because music is more important and you can devellop your style, composition, orchestration in a better way
by example, in france there is no school to tech the music for film, in US yes , in canada you have UQAM that is very great
and also for online course,if you look on the web or make a research on google for online course in french there is a little and it concern only the basic , take by example udemy there is a lot of great course but all are in english (not a problem for me) on youtube you can find a lot of tutorial from great people alex moukala, rick beato, joshua shon, filmanalysis,
i don’t understand what is the problem with the idea of developp the music, the music , for me , is essential, try to watch a movie, an animation without music, also a commercial , music has a big place in our society, but i think music doesn’t bring enough money than sport that is the main problem
you easily fill a stadium for a sport event, try to fill an opera or a concert place it is more difficult even if the entrry price is the same

how many money a great composer earn compare to a professiopnnal athlete ?


Hi, Music and entertainment in general have become commodities. The majority of radio stations in the US are programmed through the same media companies. It’s become an accounting game. That combined with our disintegrating education system where music & the arts have lost their place really only leave sports as a leisure outlet.

It’s interesting what @florent83 mentioned about Europe. The working musicians I’ve know make a good bit of their income on European tours.

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Really cool topic to discuss actually!

Well, first of all, I wouldn’t say that professional athletes can “live” doing what they are doing. It all depends on the sport and how “far” you really came. A couple of examples: I played professional pool (billiards) myself around 7 years ago. I was 20-21. Two times I was 3rd in the “German Championships”, I have beaten former europian champions and world champions on my way and still was 3rd. The level at the very top is so close, it’s unreal and only the very best (I would say to public financial statistics Top 50 constantly) can make a “living” and the Top 10 a little bit better living. We are talking about 40k-80k $ a year. That’s it. No one of these people is making huge amounts of money. The only way you can support yourself is by finding sponsors somehow. (Snooker is the almost the same by the way…) A little bit more money, due to their Eurosport Channel contract.
Example 2: Tennis. Even Top 100 players are struggling financially. Some of them can’t even have a coach, as this one costs money as well. That’s crazy, isn’t it?
Darts: The last 10 years we saw huge financial support due to their TV channel contracts. So you see, that if television is involved, things get better financially. It doesn’t depend only on the sport itself.

It doesn’t necessarily mean that music has less value. The same goes for sports, however, it all depends on the circumstances. You will always find someone, who is making millions a year, even if the industry is “dead”. And you will always find someone, who isn’t making money at all, even if the industry is “on and hot”.

I always say this: “People don’t realise how valuable something is until it’s gone.”
You can transfer this to “live” in general.

Kind regards,
Alexey :slight_smile:


Interesting thoughts, and you are so right on TV. The sports that get aired on TV gets so much more money, which is mostly team sports like hockey and soccer in Sweden at least.

It used to be more money in music when radio and album sales were still big. But now with streaming and all access, I feel music has lost value vs sports. I wonder if virtual reality games or something else will come to finally increase the chances of making it in music. Virtual live concerts is one thing I heard might become a thing.


Wow, here comes an unexpected and very long rant - please understand that I believe that confronting the realities of our industry is inherently a positive thing even though situations described may be negative. TL;DR: it’s lots of people’s fault, and maybe yours, kind reader. This isn’t inevitable and we shouldn’t act like it is. But if you are the kind of person who is easily discouraged and often filled with doubt - and I guess by that I mean everyone who does this - you shouldn’t read this at all. In fact, nobody should.

That said…

First you have to ask what value is. If it means something people want and don’t want to be without, music has lots of value. People just don’t want to pay for anything. The burden of blame for that comes from three places:

Shortsighted and/or ignorant consumers who don’t know or care where things come from and just want what they can get;

Content distributors who want to monetize other people’s work for their own profit regardless of legality or any consequence;

And composers and artists who accept this situation as if it’s inevitable and can’t be changed - to be blunt, mostly not-great composers and artists who will take little money for their little work, maybe because they don’t know better; but also established and higher-quality composers who accept being forced to compete with bottom-end stuff because nobody wants to anger consumers who don’t want to spend money and have nothing at stake but desire.

I’ve seen posts in many places on the internet lately about opportunities for work and how we as composers/musicians need to work smarter and harder but that things are out there if only we are willing to find them. I think this relates to how we contribute to our own difficulties, though.

I don’t actually agree about the opportunities. I began working at this and related fields at a time when the concept of actual careers and reasonable pay was still a thing.

It seems to me that a lot or most of folks trying to work in music will find themselves in cattle-call situations that are referred to as opportunity but are mostly opportunities to be exploited by other people who are clawing their way in on a slightly higher level. The things that younger folks are being asked to accept are often surprising to me.

It could be because the system is overpopulated, due to the illusion of opportunity that newly inexpensive technology brings - or it could be, as it has been for many years in the classical performance world, that the profit-driven education system would be working against its own interests if kids were taught early on how very unlikely it is that one could make a living at this, which leads to at least somewhat educated hopefuls being thick on the ground - and actual, genuine competition, the process of good stuff rising to the top, diminishing, because the issue winds up being who will do a gig in a vaguely acceptable manner for the least amount of money, if any. One need look no further than the library music business. It used to be a place where hard work and quality would pay pretty well, but now it’s utterly saturated and the value of the work has fallen, along with its general quality.

What’s my point? Often when I’ve said these things, much younger media types - content distributors - have dismissed it all as bitter-old-dude stuff, complaining about how stuff used to be better - which is funny, as they stand to benefit the most from a disposable low-cost content source with little sense of self-preservation. They talk about the new model and the gig economy as if anything new has got to be better (because eww gross old people and they’re all greedy and this is the future), and unfortunately they convince many young composers and musicians that this state of affairs is not only inevitable, it’s beneficial to them because it broadens the field of opportunity and grants the aspiring person flexibility and new things every day and there’s just vast, vast potential, and young composers need to just get on this bandwagon or they are hopelessly old-fashioned. And if you don’t make it it’s only because you aren’t hustling enough and you aren’t spending enough time on your social media presence and your networking. Any of this sounding familiar?

Well - to me it’s kind of sociopathic to act that way. Here are a few points:

The new model is the old model except without paying people who actually create content, leaving creators to generate money from other places or not at all.

The gig economy is what happens when companies don’t want to pay benefits.

The only inevitable things about the current situation are the ones that people accept blindly so that others with fewer scruples can continue to benefit parasitically from them.

Another thing negatively impacted by the devaluation of music and a glut of cheap composers is a broadening gap between okay musical gear and great musical gear. New folks don’t have any money, so they get what they can afford - which is why when I just googled “best audio interface 2019” everything was basically prosumer - not one thing that sounds terrific (yes, that’s my opinion, but I have years of experience to back it up), and lots of stuff that’s cheap. What should have come up given the rate of advancement in audio tech is at least some pretty great gear that’s less money than it used to be - but it’s not as much better as it would be if musicians had any money at all. (And I’m aware that a search like that is very general, but what it returns is a fair representation of where the market’s attention is.)

Social media as a marketing tool for any of us to me is usually at best a way to get unfiltered random lowball work and at worst keeps us from spending time in our craft - and our craft is not having a good pitch, though that’s helpful: our craft is making good music. It’s true that you will get work via people who know you. And sometimes social media can introduce you to people; but it seems to me that you are mostly introduced to people who do the same thing you do and are thus your competition. I live in a city with a reputation for being a music capital, and the local social media is flooded with posts saying “I’m really cool if anyone knows of any gigz hmu”. Really? What the new model has brought mostly is noise and viewer fatigue, generalists, fans rather than experts, a deluge of epic drum libraries, and survivorship bias.

By that last I mean the error in judgement that says that if other people don’t succeed at something and you do, it’s because of some kind of inherent rightness to your approach - when in fact it may mean that due to the giant pool of people who also want to do what you do, you were selected at random, or only that you were willing to give too much away - and content users love creators who undervalue themselves. And neither of those two is good for the musician or the industry or the general quality of work or the state of innovation. And beyond all of that, the system in place now is put there by people who want content and to be able to monetize it at little or no cost to them, driven by two forces: content sharers (begin with Napster which was outright theft but continued by every single streaming service there is, whose business model is based on the fact that there was no copyright law concerning streaming so that somehow meant they didn’t have to pay anyone anything or at least very little) and industry leaders (with no vision for protecting artists and a morbid fear of displeasing broke teenagers).

And another few points:

When someone from another economy than mine or at another point in their path calls me greedy because of the things I’m talking about because they have to live with less and everything is an uphill struggle, I think two things: one, I’ll bet it isn’t that way for everyone there, though that isn’t necessarily your fault, cranky Internet dude- or maybe that’s just everyone immediately around you; and two, how does my wanting more for composers negatively impact you? I want for a composer who lives anywhere in the world in any circumstance but who can manage to generate good and good-sounding material to be able to benefit from that in a way that’s better than scrabbling for crumbs at the table of the wealthy. That’s not what’s being derisively called “entitlement” these days - it’s fair: the composer is actually in the traditional sense entitled to their share of the benefits. Yes, I want more from things, because I’ve gotten there first-hand. Twice in my life - once because of a score for a kid’s tv show that was wall-to-wall music and once for a multi-platinum album that I co-produced - my life was changed by royalties. The first time I bought gear with it that enabled me to do record and film work, and the second bought me a house and gave me a retirement fund. I’ve heard arguments that were literally that I just want to keep what I have, like it used to be (well, yes, I do) and that I just want to keep taking advantage of the old and broken copyright system and get royalties forever - hold on a second, am I saying that a composer has said to me that I shouldn’t want to keep getting residuals for something? Yep, several. That sounds weird, but it’s true. Some have said that copyright quells innovation. Well - no. What quells innovation is multitudes of amateur or mediocre composers flooding the market with their attempts at “epic music” that they are willing to give away for a little acknowledgement and “exposure” because they have not yet learned to value themselves - and there may be precious little to value, if what they have mostly is a wish to be heard and to be seen as a composer. And the other things that quell innovation are good composers starving, bad education for profit, and clients with tin ears who want and need music but don’t know good music so much.

Sure the “old model” was/is rife with abuses. Changing that would have been the way to go, but people do love new things that they think they are in control of. That’s not a young people thing - millennials aren’t destroying things. That’s just a people thing.

I don’t want it to be even less likely that this could happen for a young person than it was for me, and I know very well how unlikely it was for me - success is a matter of right place right time, how people see you, if you are prepared, if you deliver, if the people you work for are inclined to support you, and if this happens repeatedly - and also if you can survive when it isn’t happening.

So when someone says that wanting fair compensation for successful content is greedy or old-school or entitled or whatever, then what I think is that this person either stands to benefit from my not doing well (or wants to feel like they can compete with anyone if only the playing field were “leveled”), believes something they were sold, wants to affirm their negative worldview at my expense, or truly has no real skin in the game, and it’s noise. And when what passes for opportunity for new, upcoming and transitioning composers these days is most often a general call for people to compete based on money alone, where the system really only benefits the short-term interests of clients and those who feed on content creators, I don’t always see that as opportunity, unless it’s an opportunity to advocate for change.

In the sense that there is opportunity out there for someone who has ability, presents themselves in a good way, knows how to use all of their gear, knows how to listen, is open to doing things in new ways, is unencumbered by absolutes or preconceptions or unreasonable habits or limited ranges of what they will do, exhibits mental fitness, and can financially bear the risks and investments needed, I agree that there’s generally something a talented person can find to do even if it isn’t their first choice.

My advice to young composers who want to do more than get by, who want to be hired for the best kind of job - the kind where the job description literally has a picture of you next to it - is that you avoid cattle-calls. It’s more fruitful to hone your craft, find mentors, and get to know people at school or around you who do things you want to be involved in. Do things because you love to and when money isn’t so important, so by the time it is, you have experience and credibility. When people ask you to do something for nothing (which includes exposure), know that they won’t ever want to pay you for anything, and yet they will always have money for other things that are “important”. This may color your view of them and change your desire to devote your energy to their project. Or you could decide to view it as a means to an end. All I can say is that when we accept giving people real value for nothing, we make it harder for everyone else who is good at what they do. Never tell yourself the lie that real artists only care about the art and involving money is somehow vulgar or proves you to be a hack or something - you will find that the people who originate that are people who want something for nothing, who want you to feel lesser so it’s easier to get you to do things for them. But they go home with money, don’t they? Maybe you want to do something so you can prove you can do it - not to get more work from the lowlife who wants you for free, but to show other people afterwards so they will pay you. Of course you can make that choice, but it’s important to have contracts in place anyway, and a limit to the work you will do. Prefaced maybe with a conversation where you say that of course you know from the talking you’ve done so far that everybody is on the same page, and they know what they want and have communicated it to you, it’s just something you’ve learned to do every time just to prevent extreme cases. (Even if it’s your first time, you can say that.) Oh, and if you haven’t talked about what they want to do with music and what role they want it to play and so on, then why haven’t you? People who haven’t thought about stuff love to be vague and have options thrown at them. Great for them, lousy for you. Some clients think that the moment of them saying thoughtfully “no, that’s not quite it, but it’s closer”, and saying nothing else, constitutes some kind of artistry on their part, and it’s pointless to try and talk them out of that - but you still have to ask questions. And if they don’t have time for that they don’t have time to have you work with them.

If you made this far, I hope any of this was helpful.


Amazing post! @rfwd you rock :slight_smile:

Sometimes I write, delete, think again, re-write a post and whoop one hour has passed…don’t want to know how much you spend on this one! By far the best post in this forum! Thank you :pray:


Such an indepth post, and very well founded arguments. :slight_smile:

Well, I rambled a bit. But I feel like it’s a complex issue. And it does strike me as ironic that many young musicians who don’t like doing things for exposure and so on seem to love Spotify, which pretty much pays exposure bucks. But that’s different because they need it for research, or actually just because it’s cheap or free. And, you know - I think that anyone who is in the biz verifiably should have subsidized access to these services - subsidized by the distributors, not the content creators. Or at least they should remember to claim it as a business expense.

(Edit: in case it wasn’t clear, the research thing was slightly sarcastic. But it is true that we all need to stay up on stuff - and if we are all treating this as a business we will all do better than if we are all just so relieved that we don’t have dull jobs that we accept everything.)


Good - we can ask ourselves what are the values ​​of a society in which people perceive cultural offerings.
And we can ask if a society devalues ​​music or appreciates less and less.

First one is too general and could mean every part of our lives. What about the music in our culture?
We have a classical modernity that spells out a musical language that does not make it clear to everyone that dissonances are very pretty.

We have a subculture of pop that embody ways of life that are not necessarily consistent with the value of the workplace and business ethics.

We have a culture that regularly brings music to the concert hall between 1700 and 1890 for decades.

Second, this attitude implies that there was a time when people made and perceived much more intense music than we do today.

But this assumption is to deny, because the public space is made in the music has improved considerably since the Middle Ages and many people can participate in music.

  1. the values
    In our culture, sport, economics, music, art, politics, religion, literature, history, law are all important parts of our cultural life. People have different preferences.
    Classical music and pop culture form opposites and assume different ways of life and values ​​for the people who run them.
    The term values ​​has crept into the debate over the last 40 years and underestimates the ability of people to have preferences, a preference scale, the activities that are important to people for their lives.
    In recent decades it has become a conservative duty to develop values ​​as if they were gone and submerged. My question is, is it even possible for a person to live without a moral scale?

We humans have been known to make music for about 35,000 years. I do not have the impression that this has fundamentally changed or that the fascination of people for music has gone to the bad.

In my country there is a weak support for music in public schools. This task is taken over by music schools and private teachers. Only the musical high school is an exception. This attitude is not new and probably affects many countries in Europe.

The interest to learn a musical instrument does not abate.

There are public associations or foundations that give all annual bands the opportunity to present their music to the public. For example. Summer Rock Concert. This happens annually in my hometown. But also overreginal there are organizers who carry out big events.

There are many magazines about music, instruments and different genres: jazz, rock folk and so on. This is an indication of how well publishers get along with the current situation. Their existence is not threatened.

Recently, a music store had to close near me. Supposedly because the Internet is much more used for shopping. But on Amazon, I can see every day that the number of music store providers is not decreasing.

The large pay of amateur choirs or semi-professional choirs is very large. Also no indication for the devaluation of the music.

The number of students who believe they want to become composers is not getting smaller. The question from where do these people have their idea of ​​the importance of their decision to be a composer, although the chances of getting rich are not very big. The question remains why a system training more and more without there being a demand for it on the market. Everyone is on their own for this solution.

I have only addressed a few points that seem important to me. I believe that you can find them in everyday life.
A word at the end:
Such feature pages are very pessimistic and darken more than they brighten up.

Greetings Klaus Ferretti


Klaus, I’m not sure what country you are writing from. It’s certainly true that musicians get a bit more respect in Europe generally speaking (hard to be general about many countries with any accuracy) than they do here in the US. But I’d like to address your points one by one.

  1. It’s not in question whether or not people like music. Sure they do. It’s everywhere. Can one be said to value a commodity they don’t want to pay for but don’t want to be without? That’s the question.

1.1 So it’s not worth teaching in general, only in specific places. That doesn’t help value in the eyes of the public because they are less likely to appreciate what goes into it.

1.2 If you look at the budgets for these events, I think you will find they are shrinking. They sure are here. There is always something more important than free public music here. It still happens, but that usually means musicians don’t get paid.

1.3 Many magazines are also a sign of vendors desperate for ways to reach a shrinking market or one that is less able or willing to buy, but they can also be an indicator of an expanding amateur or want-to-be-pro market, which the job market can’t accommodate unless everyone is willing to work for less (or nothing).

1.4 you may have also noticed that the quality of vendors on Amazon has plummeted. Also that the margins of profit on musical instruments and media have shrunken to the point where local stores can’t compete.

1.5 The pay for amateur choirs where you are is great to hear about, definitely positive. No such luck here. Amateur here means no money. Is it a living wage to sing in one of these choirs?

1.6 Colleges here are for-profit institutions. It’s in their interest to offer the education; most that I am aware of don’t go into depth about the struggles their graduates will face (in particular, paying off their massive loans). I also must wonder if government-funded colleges in Europe are educating their students in what they can expect. I hope so. But in any event, kids wanting to do something that they like is only an indicator of their own enthusiasm and not a way of judging whether or not their surrounding public cares to support their endeavors.

As far as pessimism goes, I think that no person is served by an unrealistic view. There is no inherent tragedy in someone deciding that the struggles are not for them, and in fact it’s an empowering thing to know what you are willing to accept. Every young musician deserves the respect shown by telling them as much about how the world will receive them as possible. But I also respect the individual’s right to limit their intake of information for whatever reason as long as it doesn’t have a negative effect on others. And we all have different experience and involvement.