Do bands make money anymore?

Photo by Andreas Laszlo Konrath / New York Magazine

It’s a question that gets addressed in some detail in this brilliant article about the outwardly successful indie rock band Grizzly Bear:

Sit down with the four of them, and you get the overall sense that the band’s high profile has taken them from ordinary early-twenties NYU grads—working as a temp, a caterer, a coffee-shop employee, and “the guy who edits out the coughs” in audio documentaries—to the early-thirties proprietors of a risky small business: very busy, stuck somewhere between “scraping by” and “comfortable enough,” and unsure how they’d ever manage to do things like support families or pay for any children’s educations, especially given the slim chances that this business will exist twenty or even ten years from now. “If your livelihood is in songwriting, you never know when that’s just gonna stop,” says Rossen. Now that they’ve reached success, they seem to wonder about stability. “There’s people that know they make X dollars a year, and that’s not going to change,” says Bear. “Or if anything, they’ll get a raise. That seems like a pretty reasonable setup, compared to maybe having one really good year, and then who knows what the future is.”

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Do bands make money anymore?