The "record crisis" has benefited mainly women and musicians with a secondary education

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Press release

Income of French-speaking Swiss musicians

Lausanne, 10 May 2021 - The digitisation of music in the 2000s has changed the musical landscape by cutting out some of intermediaries. This change has favoured the independent production of certain people marginalised in the industry, particularly women. The results come from an article published in the journal Poetics, by the sociologists Pierre Bataille (University of Grenoble) and Marc Perrenoud (University of Lausanne). Their longitudinal study also shows that the "record crisis" has had little impact on the income of Swiss French-speaking musicians, for whom the amounts from record sales remain marginal, representing only 20% of their earnings.

New analyses by sociologists Pierre Bataille and Marc Perrenoud show that certain sub-groups of professionals have taken advantage of the opportunities that digitisation has brought. This is the case of the "part-time artists", for whom the income from their own music represented less than 10%. By producing and distributing their music autonomously, women in particular have been able to break away from gendered relationships of domination with certain traditional intermediaries in the music business (agents, producers, etc.). A similar effect can be observed among some musicians with a secondary education, who started to generate income from their compositions after 2000.

Digitisation with little impact on “ordinary musicians”

Much has been written about the impact of the "record crisis" on the income of musicians. In reality, this phenomenon has mainly affected internationally famour professionals and record companies and has had little impact on “ordinary” Swiss musicians who create their own music or perform at events. These new results thus show that there is no break in the income patterns of musicians, especially for those who were already "full-time artists" (+20% income from their own compositions).

These new results come from the longitudinal study Musicians' Lives conducted between 2012 and 2015. A team of seven researchers met with 123 musicians throughout French-speaking Switzerland to understand their career paths. For the time being, there is no international equivalent of this research.

Contact and information

Pierre Bataille - Senior Lecturer, Research Laboratory on Learning in Contexts, University of Grenoble - pierre.bataille@univ-grenobles-alpes.fr  

Marc Perrenoud - Lecturer, Faculty of Social and Political Sciences, University of Lausanne - marc.perrenoud@unil.ch  

Article published in "Poetics": “One for the money”? The impact of the “disk crisis” on “ordinary musicians” income: The case of French speaking Switzerland

Since 2011, the LIVES Centre (Swiss Centre of Competence in Life Course and Vulnerability Research) has been studying the effects of the economy and society on the evolution of situations of vulnerability through longitudinal and comparative studies. It aims to better understand the emergence and evolution of vulnerability as well as the means to withstand it in order to promote the emergence of innovative socio-political measures. The LIVES Centre is hosted by the universities of Lausanne and Geneva. It comprises a network of some 200 researchers from various disciplines throughout Switzerland.