How The Money Changes Hands

During the drive home, we listened to the Downstage Center podcast on Recording Cast Albums. This was an interview with Kurt Deutsch of Sh-K-Boom & Ghostlight Records, Brian Drutman of Decca/Universal, and Bill Rosenfield, consultant to RCA-BMG. It really gave me a different perspective on the record industry, which in terms of cast albums is a distinctly different beast than your normal band recording. The costs on recording a cast album is significant: each orchestra member playing an instrument gets something like $350 for a 3 hour session, which produces 15 minutes of recorded music, and there are typically 4 sessions in a full day. The conductor gets twice that. Actors get a day’s salary. The orchestrator gets a large fixed fee. The music copier gets a smaller fee. The director gets a fee. The stage manager gets a fee. This is all upfront cost. The composer and lyricist earn their money on each sale, something like 8c to 15c per song x # songs/album, for the lifetime of the sales. If the album makes profit (a big if), then the producer and the writer get a cut (40/60 of 18%). Of course, reissues are mostly pure profit (except for the composer/lyricist).

It really gives a different perspective of how an artist gets paid when you buy a CD… and I have no idea how this compensation changes for downloaded music (but I think most cast album purchasers purchase full CDs, as opposed to those who follow specific artists).

A fascinating podcast to listen to.