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.

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Companies: apple, bandcamp, deezer, spotify

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Comments on “How Much Does A Band Make From Various Music Platforms?”

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59 Comments
AG Wright (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 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.

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

Anonymous Coward says:

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.

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-head-1005348932.story

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Marcus Carab (profile) says:

Re: 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.

Eric Dodge (user link) says:

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.

Anom says:

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.

Anom says:

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.

Anom says:

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.

Tito says:

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.)

Tito says:

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.

Gabriele says:

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’

Washington Irving says:

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.

Theo Lawrence (user link) says:

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.

Richard Shekari (user link) says:

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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