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The Emerging Musical Middle Class ~ Guest Blog by Bruce Houghton

Posted in Guest Bloggers, Recession Proof Musician | No Comments »

At the musician website Hypebot, agent Bruce Houghton has been leading many discussions to help define what the musician middle class looks like. As these debates are very encouraging for musicians who seek to make a full-time living, I’m including one of my favorite articles of his on the subject, which was a two-part series. Feel free to chime in below with your comments.


The Emerging Musical Middle Class
by Bruce Houghton

I wrote on Monday about the emerging Musical Middle Class – a world populated by more artists selling 20-100,00 copies and making a living through direct sales, touring, merch and other streams; and because there are fewer outsiders taking a cut. They are empowered by the viral marketing and direct sales that the net enables. In my work as an agent, its a new paradigm that I see clearly even though its just starting to take shape.

Some great debate has ensued because others see such a glut of lousy music that it seems impossible to gain traction without the help of a label and because they can find so few success to point to.

Fair points, but the bands I see forming the emerging musical middle class are not the indie buzz bands that go it on their own and fail to sell the units that label bands do. Those were acts of trying to play the old game with new rules. The bands I’m speaking of (examples in the original article) are flying below the industry’s radar and by selling via gigs and their web site, the majority of units never reach Soundscan.

The skepticism may also come in how we view the term middle class. I see it defined as having “a comfortable standard of living, significant economic security, considerable work autonomy and rely on their expertise to sustain themselves.” We may not know exactly what the Musical Middle Class looks like or how they will get there. We do know it’s not about limos and private jets. But that still beats having to make music only on weekends.

Part 1 of this article


Bruce Houghton

Bruce Houghton blogs daily on the new music industry and technology at He is also a 25 year music industry veteran who owns booking agency Skyline Music and the tour marketing company Skyline Innovations.

With Pat Woodward and Duncan Freeman, Bruce also co-hosts ArtistDish, a 30 minute podcast about the state of the indie music industry, its trends and tools impacting independent artists, labels, managers, etc.

Bruce also consults on the topics of Music Industry & Technology, and serves on the Visionary Committee of MidemNet.

Follow Bruce on Twitter