Line Out Music & the City at Night

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Musicians Earn Less Than a Penny Per Play Via Some Streaming Services

Posted by on Wed, Sep 5, 2012 at 6:04 PM

Read the details on The Next Web about how Spotify and iTunes Match pay musicians something less than peanuts per play of a song—1/3 of a cent from the latter, a little bit more from the former. Then get properly outraged or blasé or satisfied according to your sense of entitlement re: the business of music. Then go outside and breathe deeply.

 

Comments (14) RSS

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Grant Brissey, Emeritus 1
I'm not familiar with Spotify's model. But, unless I'm mistaken, Match simply allows streaming, of music users have already acquired, to other devices, so it wouldn't really make much sense for them to pay more per stream—they're not selling the song, they're selling what is basically cloud backup for your music collection. It's different than other services in that the users' rights to the music have already been paid for (at least theoretically). It's not like Rhapsody or something, where there's no initial purchase upfront. The article you linked to sort of mentions that, where as it's a huge point.
Posted by Grant Brissey, Emeritus http://www.grantropolis.com/ on September 5, 2012 at 7:44 PM · Report this
2
Lemme know when Spotify turns a profit. Has Rhapsody yet? The article talks about what artists get... but how much is going to their labels?

I've no doubt that these services pay a pittance toward artists, but at the same time, we pay a pittance to these services. You can't have it both ways.

When I buy a track online for $0.99, how much does the artist see of that? 7%? 10%. Let's say 10%. Now how many times do I listen to it? If the artist gets $0.10 from that sale, and 1/3¢ from a streamed version, if I listen to the song more than 30 times *ever*, the artist is better off with me streaming it. I listen mostly to podcasts, and yet I assure you there are plenty of songs in my iPhone that I've listened to more than 30 times.

And in many cases, the alternative to streaming a song isn't buying and downloading it, it's not listening to it. There is no marginal cost to artists to stream a song.

I'm sorry they can't all make a living doing what they love (or they can but they may have to actually do the difficult work of performing their music outside of the studio), but such has been the fate of artists for centuries. Starbucks offers health benefits, guys!
Posted by madcap on September 5, 2012 at 11:28 PM · Report this
s.maxim 3
meh. I'm grateful for any 1/3 of a penny that's flipped my way.
Posted by s.maxim on September 6, 2012 at 12:14 AM · Report this
4
meh. Artist make less on CD's so they have to tour more meaning more chances to see my favourite bands and pick up some merch at their show. Win Win.

Also Artists/Record companies had this coming, remember when CD prices where 20 bucks a pop and they tried to fight "the internet" by adding a making of DVD and jacking the cost up to 30 bucks a pop an album.
Posted by j2patter on September 6, 2012 at 12:21 AM · Report this
5
Spotify is great. Neither Bryan May nor Meatloaf need any more money, I get to try out loads of new bands and buy CDs of what I like.

And I can trawl back through time to listen to bands I gave money to at the time they were very active but don't have any of their music anymore (examples: Mansun, Casiotone For The Painfully Alone).

My understand also is that someone makes a choice as to whether their music is on these streaming things right?
Posted by Foonken2 on September 6, 2012 at 6:06 AM · Report this
6
Madcap, you don't know what you are talking about.

A typical 99-cent purchase generally yields about 65-75 cents to the artist, if the artist is handling their own business.

A streaming listen can be as little as .03 of a cent. Not 3 cents, 3 one-hundredths of a cent.

Next time try doing a little research before shitting all over yourself in public.
Posted by Actual Artist Here on September 6, 2012 at 8:44 AM · Report this
7
Yeah, this is not news. Spotify et al. are better than piracy, but don't add up to much unless you're really getting a lot of spins. That said, if I can throw a few micropayments someone's way when in the past I probably just wouldn't have bothered listening to/buying the album, that's certainly an improvement. And then if I really love something I usually buy the album, giving them a few bucks, and then keep listening to it at Spotify, sending them bits of pennies as I go.
Posted by Levislade http://ballofwax.org on September 6, 2012 at 12:15 PM · Report this
8
Well huh.

I just logged into CD Baby to check some numbers, and it turns out that someone in Europe streamed one of my songs on iTunes Match (which I hadn't heard of until just now), earning me $0.0038. They then went and purchased a whole album, resulting in $7.24 going right to me. The system works!
Posted by Levislade http://ballofwax.org on September 6, 2012 at 12:20 PM · Report this
Fnarf 9
It's similar to radio. How much do you think artists get from a single listen to a radio play? Not just a single radio play, mind you, but a single LISTENER. A radio station might have a thousand listeners, or many thousands.

I'll betcha the stream pays more. It adds up to less because the average stream has almost no listeners, comparatively speaking.

So, musicians, how big are those quarterly ASCAP checks? Do you even GET ASCAP checks? Do indie radio stations even file playlists?

It has nothing to do with unit sales and is not comparable to them. Streamers aren't buying anything, they're just listening for a minute. Just like radio. If you're expecting stream payments to replace unit sales, you're crazy. It'll never happen.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on September 6, 2012 at 3:55 PM · Report this
10
@6 Silly me for using the 1/3¢ figure from the actual article! Why don't you send your complaint to the authors?

And yeah I was talking about non-self publishing artists, who pay a big cut to their labels. Sure, they'll get more if they're self-published, but they also have to cover all the expenses that a label would. And like I said, the alternative to streaming is often that people are just not hearing your music, and thus selling singles to them seems a little silly.

But artists are free to not license their songs to streaming services, and some have taken that route. More power to 'em! Don't try to make us feel guilty for streaming the ones that do choose to participate (disclosure: the only streaming service I use is Pandora, and not often).
Posted by madcap on September 6, 2012 at 9:14 PM · Report this
Grant Brissey, Emeritus 11
Once again, Fnarf has hit the nail directly upon its head. DAMN YOU, FNARF.
Posted by Grant Brissey, Emeritus http://www.grantropolis.com/ on September 6, 2012 at 10:11 PM · Report this
Brian Cook 12
@9 the analogy to radio sort of works. but only sort of. of course, the big difference between radio and streaming through Spotify is that with streaming the listener chooses the songs. so while they might not "own" the song, they still have full access to the song as if it was in their library. and having access to it anytime and anywhere should warrant more payment to the artist than the standard percentage they get through their publishing company from radio.

and yes, indie radio stations file playlists, even the 100 watt radio station i DJ'd at in college.

and yes, as a musician, i make considerably more money through ASCAP than through Spotify.
Posted by Brian Cook http://www.last.fm/user/bubblegutz on September 8, 2012 at 5:46 PM · Report this
13
Brian's point about the difference between Spotify and radio are important. Pandora plays are probably closer to radio, and I'm not sure what the pay out at (but it's probably less than Spotify et al.).

As a much less successful musician than Brian, I have yet to receive a penny from BMI, while I have received a few pennies from Spotify and other streaming services and a few bucks from SoundExchange (streaming royalties, which is a whole other bag of fun we haven't even talked about here).
Posted by Levislade http://ballofwax.org on September 10, 2012 at 10:07 AM · Report this
Matt from Denver 14
@ 12, access over the net isn't the same as possessing it on my hard drive or iPod. Streaming is still subject to the vagaries of internet access. I could want to listen to something very badly, but may not get it if I'm using a smart phone to stream Spotify while I'm up in the mountains, where 3G and 4G aren't uniformly available.

Fnarf's analogy still makes more sense when you break it down per listener.

If you find the deal to be unfair, it's up to you and your label to boycott those services until they pay better, even if the prospect is unrealistic. Participating only reconfirms that the market rate is a fair one.
Posted by Matt from Denver on September 11, 2012 at 9:14 AM · Report this

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