How Much Does A Band Make From Various Music Platforms?

from the and-here-you-go... dept

My friend Tom alerts us to a blog post by the indie European band Uniform Motion (which he found via a blog post by Jason Weinberger), in which the band lays out clearly the cuts they get from selling their music on various services. It's pretty detailed, and since the world is often starved for this kind of data, we're going to share it, though, we also suggest that you check out the band's own Bandcamp page, and will embed the streaming player from there right here, before the content, so you can hit play and listen to the (excellent) music while you read the rest of the post.
Unfortunately, you will not find our record in any record stores. The reason for this is because we do not have a record label, which means we have no access to distribution. Without a distributor, you cannot sell your CD’s in record stores. If you work for a distributor and you’re interested in carrying our CD or Vinyl, or both, feel free to contact us! 

If you choose to purchase our music or use one of the ‘legal’ streaming services, here’s an overview of where the pennies go. 

SPOTIFY With Spotify, we’ll get 0.003 EUR/play. 

If you listen to the album all the way through, we’ll get 0.029 EUR.

If you listen to the album 10 times on Spotify, we’ll get 0.29 EUR

If you listen to it a hundred times, we’ll get 2.94 EUR

If you listen to the album 1,000 times (once a day for 3 years!) we’ll get 29.47 EUR!

If you use the free version of Spotify, it won’t cost you anything. Spotify will make money from ads. If you use any of the paid versions, we have no idea how they carve up the money. They only disclose this information to the Major record labels...

DEEZER:

Deezer seems to pay a little more.

We’ve been getting 0.006 EUR/play from them. That’s 0.052 EUR/album play. If you listen to the album 10 times on Deezer, we’ll get 0.52 EUR. If you listen to it a hundred times, we’ll get 5.2 EUR. If you listen to the album 1,000 times (once a day for 3 years!) we’ll get a whopping 52 EUR! 

If you use the free version of Deezer, it won’t cost you anything and Deezer will make money from the ads. If you use any of the paid versions, we have no idea how they carve up the money either.

eMUSIC:

eMusic is a subscription service. The cost of the album will depend on the plan you have. We get roughly $0.29/song or $2.60/album (9 songs).

AMAZON MP3:

You’ll pay 7.11 EUR to download the MP3’s. We will get 4.97 EUR of that. That’s a 70-30 split.

iTUNES:

The album will cost you 8.91 EUR to buy from Apple.

There’s a 70-30% split there too, so we will keep 6.28 EUR/album.

That being said, it costs us 35 EUR/year to keep an album on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon (105 EUR per year for all 3 of our albums!) so we don’t make any money until 24 people have bought a digital copy of the album on iTunes, or 150 single songs, or if we get tens of thousands of listens on Spotify! In most cases, it’s actually more economically viable not to sell the music at all.

But what about if you buy the Digital version directly from us?

DIGITAL:

We allow people to pay what they want for the digital version. If you choose to pay 5 EUR, Paypal takes 0.37 EUR, Bandcamp takes 0.75 EUR. Uniform Motion keeps 3.88 EUR. it doesn’t cost us anything to have a page on bandcamp

If you decide to pay nothing, well, we get nothing, but at least you didn’t give money indirectly to major record labels, which seems to be the case with Spotify!!

CD

If you buy a CD, directly from us for 10 EUR, Paypal takes 0.515 EUR, Bandcamp takes 1.5 EUR. So there’s slightly less than 8 EUR left for us. But hold on a second, it costs a fair bit to make the CD.

The CD itself costs 1.2 EUR, the booklet costs about 50 cents, the CD packaging is 1.8 EUR and the sticker on the front costs 35 cents.

That’s a total of 3.65 EUR

So in reality, there’s 4.34 EUR left for us.

VINYL: If you buy a 12” Vinyl from us at 15 EUR, Bandcamp takes 2.25 EUR, Paypal takes 0.646 EUR so there’s 12.10 left. The cost of the Vinyl itself is 3.06 EUR

The labels cost 1.3 EUR. For a total of 4.36 EUR

So there’s 7.75 EUR left for us.

However, we had to press 250 of these (because that’s the minimum order), so it’s very unlikely we’ll make any money on them.

We need to sell 72 copies before we break even on the vinyl edition. We’ve sold about 30 so far.

If we break even, we’ll lower the price a little bit. :)
Always nice to see this kind of detailed info shared so people can get a better sense of the wider economics. What really comes through from all of this is that, as has pretty much always been the case with all but a handful of top acts, musicians don't make much money from selling music. At least, as an indie band, Uniform Motion actually does make some money from all of these methods. If it was a signed band, they'd almost certainly be making zilch on each play or sale, because the label would keep it until they "recouped," which for nearly every signed act is approximately never.

However, it does drive home the need for ancillary revenue streams -- such as performances. Performance revenue has issues too, but to make a living making music, it seems pretty clear that most acts need multiple revenue streams.

Also, shame on Spotify for keeping the details of what happens to subscription revenue secret from all but the big labels.


Reader Comments (rss)

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    crade (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:18pm

    Wow, it costs these guys more to make a CD than a 12" LP?

     

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      blaktron (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:25pm

      Re:

      3.85 for a CD, 4.36 for a record. They lay the costs out a little different in each section.... Costs less for the marketing stuff on a record because you can print the sleeve directly, whereas a CD needs to have 2 printings (sticker and liner notes) plus assembly.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:19pm

    Why do they need to alloclate money

    Especially with digital? Can't they sell it on their won site and keep ALL of the money?

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:20pm

      Re: Why do they need to alloclate money

      *own

       

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        HothMonster, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:26pm

        Re: Re: Why do they need to alloclate money

        then they have to pay for backend, and bandwidth and a get a stronger connection (rent a better server) they probably figure its cheaper just to let someone else handle it. Especially if its just another thing they have to worry about breaking even on

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:29pm

          Re: Re: Re: Why do they need to alloclate money

          but if they use their own hardware they can better manage the amount of bandwidth they need. If its a small amount, they can lower their requirements, for more they can extend it. At least in my experience its more cost affective, not less

           

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            HothMonster, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:35pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Why do they need to alloclate money

            if the skills are there

             

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            AG Wright, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 3:56pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Why do they need to alloclate money

            The problem with hosting yourself if you are in a band is that you need someone who is tech savvy enough and has enough time to perform that management. Since most band members have to have some sort of "real" job and also have time for rehearsals, performances... it takes more actual time than it's worth. It's just cheaper to hire someone else to do it for them.

             

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              jupiterkansas (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 7:41am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why do they need to alloclate money

              Plus it's easier to get people to buy your music at itunes or Amazon - places where they're used to buying music - than it is to fork over cash to some band's website.

              I recently paid $50 to put a CD on Tunecore, and I made that money back BEFORE I even announced to the world that the album was available, meaning sales came from people who just stumbled on the CD online, rather than my fans or my own marketing. I made money (admittedly, pathetically little) because of iTunes, Amazon, Napster, Zune, and Spotify.

               

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              Brice Neeley, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 11:11pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Why do they need to alloclate money

              This makes alot of sense. http://bit.ly/nt99xC

               

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            Marcus Carab (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 4:00pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: Why do they need to alloclate money

            That's like saying why doesn't every business code their own email server instead of subscribing Google Apps, or why doesn't every musician host their own videos instead of using YouTube, or why doesn't every website build its own ad network instead of using Adwords...

             

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:26pm

    Why do you have this pathological need to lie about music sales? Is it because you like to give people an excuse to rip off music?

    Any band that is popular and didn't take a stupid advance will recoup and make money from sales. They won't make as much as long as you continue to coddle and protect pirates tho.

    Stop being a lying slimeball.

     

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      The eejit (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:30pm

      Re:

      And, when someone shows how much they make, being an independent band, that's clearly being a lying slimeball.


      Riiiiiiiiiight.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:31pm

      Re:

      I always love this line of argument that blames the bands for stupid decisions that explain away all the evils of major labels.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 11:20pm

        Re: Re:

        The demonization of major labels doesn't hold water in the argument for pirating music, as those that take music without paying have never discriminated against only major labels.

        On top of that, there are fantastic, real people, real music fans at major labels; ignoring that is once again just a convenient rationalization for not supporting musicians.

        http://www.billboard.biz/bbbiz/industry/digital-and-mobile/this-week-in-music-al-teller-former-h ead-1005348932.story

         

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          The eejit (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 2:26am

          Re: Re: Re:

          You notice the difference between Teller and the major labels? Teller's adapted.

           

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          PaulT (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 2:49am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "The demonization of major labels doesn't hold water in the argument for pirating music, as those that take music without paying have never discriminated against only major labels."

          The major labels lost a *lot* of money from me when they started going down the route of DRM. I refused to buy any of it, and wasn't interested in buying CDs any more so I subscribed to eMusic back when it was indie-only and bought all my records there.

          I know there's a lot of people like me, but the labels ignore us because they can just shout "piracy!" to deflect investors away from looking and how poorly they ran their industry.

          Sorry if reality intrudes on your usual fantasy strawman worldview.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:31pm

      Re:

      You're calling Jason Weinberger a lier? God, you shilltards are fucking retarded.

       

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      Joe, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:36pm

      Re:

      do the identi-snowflakes remain the same between posts? i realize it would lose accuracy with dynamic ip's, but even then, ip's don't change all that often. It would be interesting to be able to click the snowflake to see other posts by that ip address.

       

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        Joe, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:37pm

        Re: Re:

        oh and by the way - nicely done with the embedded music. Very nice touch.

         

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        HothMonster, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:38pm

        Re: Re:

        no you get a new snowflake every post, snowflakes on a post will change over time too. Like today you are blue(ish purple) if you come back tomorrow you might be yellow.

        The only guarantee is on an article the same IP will have the same snowflake throughout

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:45pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          I have noticed that I will get a different icon for my post on the same article, at my work, where we have a load-balancer in place, so I will have different IPs for some posts.

           

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      Mike Masnick (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:57pm

      Re:

      Why do you have this pathological need to lie about music sales? Is it because you like to give people an excuse to rip off music?

      Wait, giving actual data from an actual artist is "lying"? Do explain...

       

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        Marcus Carab (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 3:51pm

        Re: Re:

        I think he was referring to this statement:

        If it was a signed band, they'd almost certainly be making zilch on each play or sale, because the label would keep it until they "recouped," which for nearly every signed act is approximately never.

        ...because according to him:

        Any band that is popular and didn't take a stupid advance will recoup and make money from sales.

        ...because apparently he still hasn't realized just how few signed bands accomplish what he describes even among those with massive fanbases.

         

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      Richard (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 3:07pm

      Re:

      Stop being a lying slimeball.

      Note to self, Stop being a lying slimeball.

      FTFY

       

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      Richard (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 3:34pm

      Re:

      Any band that is popular and didn't take a stupid advance will recoup and make money from sales.

      You're so confident about this that you surely must have some reliable data about the proportion of bands that recoup - which you could share with us.

       

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      JMT (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 4:07pm

      Re:

      "Stop being a lying slimeball."

      Thanks for the daily reminder why I have such a low opinion of the recording industry and don't want to be responsible for financially supporting them in any way.

      If you think this is the right way to behave in front of a crowd of potential customers then you cannot fail fast enough.

       

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    Spointman (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 2:56pm

    Good music!

    I love love love that you linked to each buying method. :) Picking up the music now, it's some good stuff.

     

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    Eric Dodge, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 3:08pm

    this is legit

    I can verify what these guys are saying. It is about the same for us. However we have close to 1 dollar extra going to the royalties of the songwriters. Now I have found cdbaby is a great way to manage my digital downloads so I don't have the 35 dollar per year fee. Also square is amazing for taking credit cards and paying low fees so you can keep more profit. The major labels have made it tough on indie artists. Getting on the radio and getting distribution are acts of god for sure.

     

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    Deimos280 (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 3:26pm

    support music

    If you love a band, see them live and buy there merch at the show.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 5:43pm

      Re: support music

      This.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 10:20pm

      Re: support music

      Buying a plastic discs support lawyers and their families have a heart even though I won't and don't buy those things.

       

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      Anom, Sep 28th, 2011 @ 10:32am

      Re: support music

      The way all of you know about a band is because they recorded music, to record an album and do it properly takes quite a bit of money, of course you can do it all in the computer, but it won't sound as good as if you spent 50G on an album like most labels do. So if the way you know of an artist is by an album then you should pay for the expenses to make that album by purchasing the album. Your assertion of if you love a band see a show and buy merch, is a very good one, but the only way you would go see a show is if you heard them on record first. To make that record costs money, you shouldn't steal it, you should pay for it. And even if you love a band by first randomly seeing a show, you still more than likely will want to have the music on your pod or cd player....don't download that free thinking you made up for it in merch. To make that CD or even digital version of it...costs money. In production costs to make the album. It's the same concept as with software. A digtal download software doesn't cost the company making it much of anything but when you pay say $500 for a photo editing software, for example, you are paying for the research and development for that software which costs money.

       

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      Anom, Sep 28th, 2011 @ 10:32am

      Re: support music

      The way all of you know about a band is because they recorded music, to record an album and do it properly takes quite a bit of money, of course you can do it all in the computer, but it won't sound as good as if you spent 50G on an album like most labels do. So if the way you know of an artist is by an album then you should pay for the expenses to make that album by purchasing the album. Your assertion of if you love a band see a show and buy merch, is a very good one, but the only way you would go see a show is if you heard them on record first. To make that record costs money, you shouldn't steal it, you should pay for it. And even if you love a band by first randomly seeing a show, you still more than likely will want to have the music on your pod or cd player....don't download that free thinking you made up for it in merch. To make that CD or even digital version of it...costs money. In production costs to make the album. It's the same concept as with software. A digtal download software doesn't cost the company making it much of anything but when you pay say $500 for a photo editing software, for example, you are paying for the research and development for that software which costs money.

       

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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      Anom, Sep 28th, 2011 @ 10:33am

      Re: support music

      The way all of you know about a band is because they recorded music, to record an album and do it properly takes quite a bit of money, of course you can do it all in the computer, but it won't sound as good as if you spent 50G on an album like most labels do. So if the way you know of an artist is by an album then you should pay for the expenses to make that album by purchasing the album. Your assertion of if you love a band see a show and buy merch, is a very good one, but the only way you would go see a show is if you heard them on record first. To make that record costs money, you shouldn't steal it, you should pay for it. And even if you love a band by first randomly seeing a show, you still more than likely will want to have the music on your pod or cd player....don't download that free thinking you made up for it in merch. To make that CD or even digital version of it...costs money. In production costs to make the album. It's the same concept as with software. A digtal download software doesn't cost the company making it much of anything but when you pay say $500 for a photo editing software, for example, you are paying for the research and development for that software which costs money.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Sep 12th, 2011 @ 3:30pm

    They sound like a smart band, but they are paying almost 5 bucks to have CD's made?!?

    FAIL.

     

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      freak (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 3:45pm

      Re:

      1.2E for the CD, sounds about right to me?

      The booklet, sticker & packaging costing 2.45E altogether sounds a bit odd to me, but not an unreasonable price if someone else is doing all the labour of putting these together.

       

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      The eejit (profile), Sep 12th, 2011 @ 11:19pm

      Re:

      Nononono, it's five EUROS, which comes to....about 30 cents at the moment. [/sarc]

       

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    Tito, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 1:52am

    bottom line

    The bottom line is that they get the most money by selling digital copies via Bandcamp.
    They didn't make this clear, because they made a Bandcamp example with only 5 EUR price, while the iTunes and Amazon prices were higher.

    Bandcamp takes 15% of the money, while iTunes/Amazon take 30%. Also, Bandcamp gives the buyer the option to download the music in original quality (FLAC), while those other two give you lossy files and - at least with iTunes - the customer also has to install additional software to make the purchase.

    I'm not trying to make an ad for Bandcamp, but that's what these musicians are already using. There are actually even cheaper options, like:
    https://indietorrent.org
    (They take 10% of the money, no software required for the customer, FLAC files.)

    Eventually, I wish more musicians would know about all these options, it's really not all about iTunes etc. (I'd never use iTunes for buying music, for many reasons.)

     

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      The eejit (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 2:28am

      Re: bottom line

      But I'll tell you what iTunes did right - their interface is really simple, and it's click, authorise purchase, download.

       

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        Tito, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 10:49am

        Re: Re: bottom line

        I'm assuming you also have to enter your payment details (credit/debit card, Paypal.. at least for the first time) and login, so it's eventually just as difficult/easy as the other two I mentioned.
        I'll give you the integration with the media player, tho, so that the buyer doesn't have to go through the tedious process of extracting/copying files, but gets them directly into iTunes (the software). But for people who don't use iTunes that's not an advantage.

         

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    Jimr (profile), Sep 13th, 2011 @ 6:28am

    How can I mark this article as insightful?

    I always love this kind of break down so we can start to see the real potential economic impact of piracy on the artist.

    Maybe I should buy more vinyl to support the artists.

     

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    Rob, Sep 13th, 2011 @ 12:17pm

    Check out FanDistro.com

    If artists want to distribute their digital music using their fans they should check out FanDistro.com. The artist gets 60%, fans 20% & 20% goes to FanDistro.com. The idea is that your fans will spread the word on the artists music and by helping make a sale they get 20%. Who doesn't share good music when they hear it?

     

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    Gabriele, Sep 14th, 2011 @ 9:33am

    Correction: Cuts are NEVER off the Retail !!

    We serviced indie musicians, labels and bands for more than 5 years over here in Switzerland to all leading stores worldwide. The cuts listed above are calculated on the retail. This is not correct! The cuts are always from a negotiated net rate between the online store, such as Amazon, and the distribution service (Tunecore, CD Baby, The Orchard, IODA, and many others). The example: "You’ll pay 7.11 EUR to download the MP3’s. We will get 4.97 EUR of that. That’s a 70-30 split." won't work as the shops keep approx 30% off the top for their margin, hosting, credit card fees, author royalties, etc. From the remaining 70% the band gets their 70%.

    Btw, to market ones own recordings off the band web site only (and earn 100%) will never have the reach as having ones music in all the leading, worldwide download stores - even though downloads are going down as well and bands will have to explore alternative business models very soon anyway.
    Keep on rockin'

     

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    Washington Irving, Sep 16th, 2011 @ 3:04am

    Volume

    Yes the margins are low - money is only made from music sales (digital or physical) when volume sales kick in and volume sales only come if you have the captial (financial and social muscle) to get your product in to the big marketing channels - BBC (UK) and commercial radio, TV, internet, advertising, film ringtones etc etc (and increasingly this is a campaign across multiple channels). Digital technologies make it possible to make product and even create a shopfront but the real deal is marketing and the Music Business has the networks and the capital.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 8th, 2012 @ 11:44am

    hi

     

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    Hiro Noodles, Feb 20th, 2012 @ 8:33am

    A band makes money by playing shows. The recordings are ads for the gigs.

     

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    kai, Mar 12th, 2012 @ 8:27pm

    Great Insight!

    Thank you so much for documenting your experiences with each of these digital distributors! God bless.

     

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    Theo Lawrence, Apr 10th, 2012 @ 12:43am

    the costs to make an album before even selling it

    Anom makes a good point. I just want to share my experience of my unsigned band Revenant Dead. We have made two albums and they have been quite expensive to make.

    One valuable expense is time - it takes months to write and practice a collection of songs before recording, time to record it (we did it quite full on for about 2 weeks), time to promote it online and offline, and also time to arrrange all the other aspects of the release like photo shoots.

    Money wise, it cost us several grand in record studio fees to make our most recent album (Two Evils), which we funded ourselves. We also spent hundreds on fuel / train fares to record and rehearse. We spent hundreds on album artwork and photography fees to launch / release the album. The band's website was designed in house, so that didn't cost anything apart from time, but for some bands this can be a substantial cost to set up. Somebody made a point that a band would get all the fees from digital downloads on their site, but you could also consider how much it cost to set that up (plus pay pal fees on each download etc). For us we use pay pal micropayments, so the fees are quite low on each download. The band makes most of its online sales revenue from iTunes (mostly) and also stores like amazon, presumeably because people are more used to downloading from those places, or there is more traffic on those sites, but we do have an online store selling the mp3s for cheaper.

    We manage to sell a few physical products (cds, t shirts) on our website, but mainly they get sold at gigs. It is very true that more money can be made from touring than from regular music sales, but for unsigned bands the reality is that it's quite hard to break even after travel expenses as they mostly don't get paid to play. For signed bands, I think they get to keep more of the money from touring (particularly the merchandise) so for them it's the main income. According to some online articles I read recently, Adele's '21' was the top-selling album of 2011, but because she had to cancel tour dates due to throat surgery, she ended up only the 6th highest earner overall - so that points out how important touring is for the big artists.

     

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    marco, Oct 28th, 2012 @ 10:39am

    Great transparent post. Big up! Someone tryed buzzormoney and self-promotion?

     

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    Richard Shekari, Oct 22nd, 2013 @ 3:13am

    great post

    Well, from the original post to those that made comments this is really good. It's an eye opener, been there done that! Dues must be paid, time must be spent and money wasted as well. For me, I got to realise that things work out fine when I chose to let God handle it all.
    Yeah it's not funny for an indie artist to put too much energy, money and time and get spat on in the end! We will all get there, one after the other one day at a time.

     

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