Posted on | May 28, 2013 | Comments Off on Soft ViagraPlease Note: An earlier version of this post attributed the blog post discussed below to David Lowery. Soft viagra Subsequently, soft viagra I have learned that Lowery is not the author of this post. Soft viagra I have revised this piece to remove references to David Lowery, soft viagra and I sincerely apologize to Mr. Soft viagra Lowery for any misunderstanding.
Soft viagra A recent post on the Trichordist quoted data from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS) indicating that the number of working musicians has decreased by 45% since 2002. Soft viagra It included the following graphic to illustrate this point:
The Trichordist’s statistics seemed shocking. Soft viagra Could they really be right?
Soft viagra An employment drop of 45% in a ten year period is pretty extreme, soft viagra even given the current state of the music business. Soft viagra Therefore, soft viagra I thought it might be worth a visit to the BLS website, soft viagra to dig a little deeper into the Trichordist’s numbers. Soft viagra Fortunately, soft viagra the Trichordist was kind enough to cite its sources in the image above. Soft viagra Unfortunately, soft viagra it did not include hot links to these sources in its blog post, soft viagra and I’m kind of lazy. Soft viagra So rather than hand-typing those links into the brower, soft viagra I first did a web search on “BLS musicians” to see if that would take me to the right place. Soft viagra I ended up at a page titled “Occupational Outlook Handbook” (http://www.bls.gov/ooh/entertainment-and-sports/musicians-and-singers.htm).
Soft viagra This page did not contain the data that the Trichordist used to make the chart above, soft viagra but it did indicate the following:
- that there were 176, soft viagra200 jobs for musicians and singers in 2010.
- that the number of musician and singer jobs was expected to grow 10% by the year 2020.
At this, soft viagra point, soft viagra I was getting confused. Soft viagra Why were these numbers different than the Trichordist’s?
Soft viagra Not only were the numbers from the “Occupational Outlook Handbook” completely different (and significantly larger) than the Trichordist’s numbers, soft viagra they also indicated job growth over the next 10 years, soft viagra not job shrinkage (which is what the Trichordist had asserted was happening). Soft viagra So I bit the bullet and hand-typed in the links from the Trichordist’s chart above, soft viagra which are as follows:
Soft viagra http://www.bls.gov/iag/tgs/iag711.htm#about;
Soft viagra http://www.bls.gov/oes/2003/may/oes272042.htm
Soft viagra When I got to those pages, soft viagra the numbers were the same as those cited by the Trichordist above. Soft viagra But I was still left wondering why the BLS website had more than one set of musician employment numbers.
It turns out that the Trichordist’s numbers and the Occupational Handbook numbers were drawn from different surveys that used different methodologies.
Soft viagra The 176, soft viagra200 figure comes from the Industry-Occupation Matrix Data, soft viagra by occupation (the “Matrix”). Soft viagra You can find that here. The Matrix data is further broken down by industry, soft viagra and you can download the raw data for an industry in .xls spreadsheet format. Soft viagra (The raw data for musicians and singers is available here: ftp://ftp.bls.gov/pub/special.requests/ep/ind-occ.matrix/occxls/occ27-2041.xls.)
Soft viagra The BLS has this to say about where the Matrix numbers came from. Soft viagra The methodology of the Matrix is explained here. This paragraph from that discussion seems particularly instructive (especially the last sentence):
Soft viagra Base-year employment data for wage and salary workers, soft viagra self-employed workers, soft viagra and unpaid family workers come from a variety of sources, soft viagra and measure total employment as a count of jobs, soft viagra not a count of individual workers. Soft viagra This concept is different from that used by another measure familiar to many readers, soft viagra the Current Population Survey’s total employment as a count of the number of workers. Soft viagra The Matrix’s total employment concept is also different from the BLS Current Employment Statistics (CES) total employment measure. Soft viagra Although the CES measure is also a count of jobs, soft viagra it covers nonfarm payroll jobs, soft viagra whereas the Matrix includes all jobs.
So where do the Trichordist’s Numbers come from and how do they relate to the numbers from the Matrix?
Soft viagra The numbers from the Trichordist’s chart were drawn from the Occupational Employment Statistics program (OES) (http://www.bls.gov/oes/), soft viagra a data source that seems to share some methodological similarities with the CES (which was referenced in the paragraph above).
Soft viagra The OES FAQ explains the methodology underlying the OES. Soft viagra For our purposes, soft viagra the most salient information is as follows:
Soft viagra “Employees” are all part-time and full-time workers who are paid a wage or salary. Soft viagra The survey does not cover the self-employed, soft viagra owners and partners in unincorporated firms, soft viagra household workers, soft viagra or unpaid family workers.
It appears that the numbers used in the Trichordist’s chart exclude both self-employed workers and owners of unincorporated firms (i.e., soft viagra the partners in a partnership or the members of an LLC).
Soft viagra It’s not trivial to omit self-employed workers and owners of incorporated firms. Soft viagra Of the total musician and singer jobs in 2010, soft viagra the data from the spreadsheet I linked to above indicates that 75, soft viagra000 (42%) of those jobs stemmed from self-employment. Soft viagra I don’t know about you, soft viagra but it definitely makes intuitive sense to me that this percentage would be pretty high, soft viagra as lots of musicians are self-employed/sole proprietors or operating in a partnership or LLC (i.e., soft viagra an unincorporated association).
Soft viagra Update: In a Facebook comment thread on this blog post, soft viagra I gave some more concrete examples about common situations for working musicians and how they are captured by the BLS data I looked at. Soft viagra One of the commenters suggested that it would be useful to have it in the main blog post as well. Soft viagra So I’m adding it here.
Soft viagra (a) Let’s say we have a band. Soft viagra They make their entire living from music. Soft viagra The core group is two people. Soft viagra They are organized as a member-managed, soft viagra LLC with two members. Soft viagra The LLC is taxed as a partnership. Soft viagra They don’t receive a salary. Soft viagra They get their money in the form of distributions from the LLC. Soft viagra This money flows through to each of their 1040s on a k-1 and is treated as self-employment income.
Soft viagra Let’s say that two other musicians also regularly play in this band (perhaps they are the drummer and bass player), soft viagra but they are not members of the LLC (i.e., soft viagra they don’t hold equity in the company). Soft viagra These musicians may also pick up work playing gigs with other people when the main band isn’t active. Soft viagra Both in the context of their main band and on any other jobs they do, soft viagra these musicians get paid as 1099 contractors. Soft viagra So all their income in a year is also from self-employment.
Soft viagra None of these musicians are counted in the OES data the Trichordist has cited, soft viagra but these musicians are apparently counted in the Matrix data. Soft viagra The scenario above is a very real scenario, soft viagra especially for the so-called middle class of musicians (i.e., soft viagra people who are making enough money from playing music to subsist without another job). Soft viagra As the Matrix data shows, soft viagra the median income of the musicians in their survey was around $22/hr. Soft viagra That works out to a yearly gross income of around $42k (40 hours a week for 48 weeks a year). Soft viagra So half the musicians in the Matrix data made more than that and half made less. Soft viagra I suspect that a lot of full-time musicians in the $20k-$40k range fit the scenario I’ve spelled out above (either co-owner of a partnership or LLC or a sole proprietor receiving living mostly from 1099 contractor income).
Soft viagra (b) Now, soft viagra let’s think about a more successful band. Soft viagra I don’t know anything about the particulars of Wilco, soft viagra but I get the sense that Jeff Tweedy is the only equity holder in Wilco, soft viagra Inc. Soft viagra (or Wilco, soft viagra LLC). Soft viagra So all the other guys are likely hired guns from a legal and financial standpoint.
Soft viagra In a situation like that, soft viagra where a band is successful and has more predictable cash-flow, soft viagra there’s a much better chance that these hired guns won’t be 1099 contractors anymore. Soft viagra Instead, soft viagra they will be salaried employees of Wilco, soft viagra Inc., soft viagra benefits will be paid, soft viagra exclusivity may be required, soft viagra etc.
Soft viagra Musicians in the Wilco situation would likely be counted in the OES numbers that the Trichordist cited. Soft viagra And to the extent that the OES numbers say that these kinds of musician jobs have shrunk significantly since 2002, soft viagra that’s no small thing. Soft viagra For those kinds of jobs are good jobs, soft viagra and we should all probably be fighting for a world in which there are more jobs like that for musicians. Soft viagra But that’s a different issue than the one the Trichordist has put on the table (i.e., soft viagra the changing character of musician jobs vs. Soft viagra a change in the absolute number of musician jobs).
Where does that leave us?
Soft viagra I’d love to get a more nuanced picture of things than I have now. Soft viagra Even with the additional info from the Matrix, soft viagra a lot of important questions remain unanswered. Soft viagra But based on the info I found on the BLS website, soft viagra I will say this: If the goal is to understand how many working musicians and singers there are over time, soft viagra the job numbers used must include self-employed workers; otherwise, soft viagra they aren’t suitable to that task. Soft viagra If we had, soft viagra say, soft viagra Matrix data from 2000 that could be compared to the 2010 Matrix data, soft viagra maybe we would find that the trends in that data are the same as the trends in the OES data that the Trichordist used for its chart.
Soft viagra But absent that sort of data, soft viagra it seems like the broadest claim one can make based on the OES data is that payroll-based jobs for musicians have shrunk since 2002. However, soft viagra once we narrow things down to that claim, soft viagra it significantly muddies the causal link that the Trichordist is trying to make between the rise of digitial music and fall of musician jobs.
Soft viagra The loss of a payroll job doesn’t necessarily mean that the person in question was unable to find a nonpayroll job as a musician. Soft viagra Indeed, soft viagra a lost payroll job might well be replaced by a new non-payroll job in the economy. Soft viagra Therefore, soft viagra the absolute number of musician jobs may not have shrunk at all. Soft viagra Instead, soft viagra it may be that the character of musician jobs has shifted.
Soft viagra Having said that, soft viagra the loss of payroll-based musician jobs may still be significant. Soft viagra As in other industries, soft viagra the loss of such a job can mean that a musician is exchanging a job with benefits, soft viagra etc. Soft viagra for an independent contractor situation, soft viagra where pay and benefits are not as good. Soft viagra So there may well be economic losses involved. Soft viagra But it seems highly speculative to draw conclusions about the nature or cause of these sorts of economic losses from the BLS data cited in the Trichordist’s blog post.
Soft viagra Perhaps the Trichordist will dig further into this question, soft viagra find more data, soft viagra and then share what it has learned with the rest of us.