"Unsurprisingly, streaming made up less than 1% of my income."
Melbourne-based artist Wolfjay - the project of non-binary artist Jackie Alexander - has released their first annual report that tracks their income and expenses.
Their blog follows the recent posts by The Avalanches and Santigold; the Aussie duo shared that artists "need to be real about the financial toll of touring. For us, it means massive debt."
"In 2021-2022, I made $3368.75 off of music, with most of that coming from live performance and physical Bandcamp sales. This is a bunch more than previous years," Wolfjay begins. The main reason they have experienced such a big jump in earnings is that they play solo now; they only need to cover one person's transport, food and drink now.
The indie-rock artist also put their rate up: for the most part, Wolfjay played shows that paid at least a $250 performance fee, but often closer to $400.
The next most significant source of income came from APRA AMCOS royalties, primarily thanks to two Wolfjay songs getting synced on the SBS series, The Heights. "Lastly, and somewhat unsurprisingly, streaming made up less than 1% of my income," they wrote. They only receive income from streams on releases up to their 2018 track, She Calls To Me. Their subsequent releases have been released by Sleep Well Records. The deal Wolfjay has is a "50/50 split for 7 years, and I only start getting paid after the costs recoup."
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Wolfjay's expenses all up were $8118.99. "This is broken down to contributing to my utility bills at home, mixing and mastering costs associated with finishing songs, putting on/playing shows, making merch, and purchasing equipment to make music. Normally this would be much more balanced, but due to lockdowns and being anxious around being in venues due to COVID the money I spent was much further weighted towards buying gear."
Speaking with The Music, Wolfjay shares that they were hesitant about writing the annual report. "I don't want to set the expectation that losing so much money is how it has to be done," they say. They also believe that touring needs an upheaval as playing interstate incurs them an 100% loss. "The most I would make in Sydney would be $500-$600 once everyone else is paid. That's if it's sold out and it's priced well. And that might cover my flights, maybe, and bringing my gear. But then everything else is out of pocket."
In a 2019 interview, Wolfjay discussed the influences behind their single, Together. "When Together was in the works, it was like, man, imagine hearing this at 12 years old. Imagine if I could hear a non-binary, bisexual artist singing and making really good pop-punk."
You can read Wolfjay's full post here.