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For years, we’ve heard the music industry talk about declining sales and profits (often unconvincingly tying these numbers to piracy), but what about the artists? How much do they earn when their music is distributed online, compared to selling CDs?

It’s a very hard question to answer, because some of this data is kept secret, and it varies from country to country. Still, David McCandless, author of the book “Information Is Beautiful,” rolled up his sleeves, researched the available data and created this beautiful infographic that shows how hard life is these days for most music artists (unless they’re Lady Gaga).

McCandless warns himself that the data was very hard to research, and that it may not be 100% accurate. He also warns that “these figures do not include publishing royalties (paid to composers of songs).” However, you can check out the full spreadsheet of data, that does include royalties, here.

Check out the infographic below (beware, it’s a big one).

Tags: artists, infographic, music, music industry