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 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 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).


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.


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?


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!!


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.

Filed Under: business models, streaming, uniform motion
Companies: apple, bandcamp, deezer, spotify

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  1. identicon
    Theo Lawrence, 10 Apr 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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