Musicians Increasingly Realizing That Streaming Services Are Actually A Really Good Thing

from the oh,-look-at-that... dept

For over four years now, we've been somewhat mystified by the hatred from some musicians and labels towards streaming services like Spotify. The general complaint seems to be that "it doesn't pay enough," but "enough" is often at ridiculously high standards. I've now seen three separate analyses that show that, on a per listener-per play basis, Spotify pays more than any other source. The problem, it often seems, is one of expectations. Part of it is simply that musicians seem to forget that their labels take a giant chunk of their earnings, and that the payments that eventually trickle down to musicians are often months or years late. Also, those doing the complaining often seem unable to comprehend that these services take time to grow, and as they grow, the payouts get bigger and bigger. But the biggest mistake of all seems to be the idea that not having your music where your fans want it is somehow a good idea. We've pointed out repeatedly that making music disappear from where people are looking for it only harms the musicians.

Furthermore, as we've seen over and over again, as these services get bigger and start to catch on, artist are realizing all sorts of ways they can profit from them. Two recent examples are quite handy. First up, we have independent musician Ron Pope (music here), who has written a fantastic piece for the Huffington Post about just how wonderful Spotify has been for his career.
My music was added to Spotify in September of 2010; through the most recent report, which runs through November 2013, I've had over 57 million plays and they've paid me out $334,636 with over $200,000 of that coming in 2013.
That seems quite a bit different than those stories you hear from some whiners, claiming that Spotify pays peanuts for each million plays or whatever.

But, even more important, is that Pope has noticed that it's not just about the money directly paid by Spotify. Instead, as many have suggested for years, Spotify makes his fans even more attached to him, opening up all sorts of other opportunities. For example, he describes how it opened doors to large shows -- where the fans are totally knowledgeable about his entire catalog:
I'm getting over a million streams in Sweden alone most months. As a result of this, I was offered a very respectable guarantee to play at the Bravalla festival there last summer, where singalongs like this happened during every song:
I have an extensive catalog; Spotify allows fans to take in all of my music so that they can become a fan of me as an artist, rather than directing them to one particular single. That's why my Swedish fans are able to sing along to songs that are eight years old the same way they sing along to songs that are eight months old. With Spotify, it's not about a single; the fans can pour over my entire catalog and follow my journey from my first album all the way through to today.
Similarly, he notes that when he last played shows in Norway, he could only sell about 100 tickets. But there has been an explosion in people from Norway listening to his music on Spotify lately, so his upcoming show in Norway sold out of its 450 tickets three months in advance.

Of course, it's notable that, despite being an American, a lot of what he discusses is the money he's been making from Sweden and Norway -- two countries where Spotify is absolutely dominant. One could argue that he's lucky that folks in Scandanavia apparently really like him, but a better point might just be that once streaming services are really mainstream, there's plenty of money to be made by artists. Flipping out now in other countries, where streaming is just building up an audience, seems counterproductive in the extreme.

A second story, courtesy of TorrentFreak, is from another musician, Benn Jordan (music here), who wrote up a fascinating post suggesting other musicians get over the whole Spotify hate thing, because it's misplaced. He notes the same things that we've already noted above -- about bad contracts and the fact that Spotify is still really just getting started in the US and other places -- but also notes that Spotify is beginning to stand out as a significant revenue source for himself.
So just short of publicly divulging my income, I can tell you that Spotify has made me about 30% more than iTunes, Pandora, Amazon, Xbox Music, Google Play, eMusic, Rhapsody, Rdio, Deezer, MediaNet, Simky, Nokia, and Myspace Music combined in that period. Even if you tack on my checks from ASCAP to that long list, Spotify is still ahead.

I can tell you that Spotify alone, for the last 9 months or so, has paid for my rent in a 2 floor coach house with garage. But what is predictably notable, is that the numbers for Spotify are growing monthly, and have actually doubled from the first month to the last while sales on other platforms remained the same.
He also notes that people who really love his music now generate a lot more money for him -- since before they'd just buy an album, and he'd never be able to get more than the $7 from that album. But if they stream it over and over again, it can add up to much, much more.

Obviously, these are just two stories -- and we've heard stories from other musicians who still think that they're not getting "enough" from Spotify. However, as we see more musicians noticing that streaming revenue is increasing, it seems like a lot of the old premature kneejerk "hate" is likely to dissipate.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1. identicon
    PRMan, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 1:49pm

    Smart guy

    See where the streams are coming from and go tour there. Great idea!

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

  2. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 1:52pm

    I wonder if the non-label musicians tell the under contract guys how much they are getting from those services.
    Makes you hope that these services are the beginning of the end for the major music labels.
    Though you know they will go down crying, screaming, and litigating.

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

  3. icon
    jupiterkansas (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 1:55pm

    But the recording label can't control what people listen to on Spotify, therefore they can't control popular tastes and maintain exclusivity over an aritst's success, therefore Spotify is evil.

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

  4. icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 1:59pm

    I would like to bring to the attention of the class, the story of Zoe Keating.

    Here is a musician who is using all of the technology available to her (as well as her considerable talent) to make a nice living from her music. Not only that but she is open about how much she makes from each service.

    It is always good to hear from musicians who see online services as opportunities rather than hindrances.

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

  5. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 2:24pm

    'you hear from some whiners, claiming that Spotify pays peanuts for each million plays'

    that should read that the artists get peanuts 'for each million plays' because the labels, who do nothing like the work they had to years ago, want the same share of the takings that they are used to having from years ago. it's a typical 'entertainment industries' syndrome. i used to have to do this, this and this before i got pay back, now i have to do this but still want the same pay back at least. that means that profits hit the labels earlier than before but the artist is still struggling. when they actually wake up, smell the coffee and realise how they're being screwed and who by, perhaps even ardent label lovers like katy perry will stop grabbing ankles for them, get away and start being properly rewarded by her fans

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

  6. icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 2:25pm


    Timely this...
    Earlier in my twitter feed I saw this...

    Zoe Keating ‏@zoecello
    I don't think so, it's promo. RT @juliettrowe: Is it time for #soundcloud and #bandcamp to pay artists for streaming?

    How is it with all of the money taken in "for the artists" by the old gate keepers, artists are always looking for more?

    I think it also exposes the problem of thinking the 'art' matters so much more than the platform.
    When is the last time a platform went on and on about these 'artists' bleeding them dry because they don't pay for the use of the platform?
    Perhaps because the platforms have figured out other ways to get paid while offering the service for free rather than just demanding someone else pay them for their work.

    While the other streaming services have talked about being bled dry, it is by the old guard gatekeepers demanding more and more (and artists who don't pay any attention beyond how little the label gives them vs how much the label collected in their name).

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

  7. icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 4:39pm


    I would like to bring to the attention of the class, the story of Zoe Keating.

    Yup. We've written about Zoe previously: fines-transparency-breaks-down-exactly-how-she-makes-living.shtml

    She's also a reader of this blog and a friend. So that's nice. :)

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

  8. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 24th, 2014 @ 5:42pm

    welcome back

    nice to see you finally turn up, what's going on,, sold TD to Karl ??

    If so great, if not great..

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

  9. icon
    That One Guy (profile), Feb 24th, 2014 @ 8:02pm

    Re: Re:

    Is it time for #soundcloud and #bandcamp to pay artists for streaming?

    Yeah, if they went that route, which would likely make it cost to listen to music, my buying would drop like a rock. Most times I end up listening to a song/album on bandcamp numerous times before I finally get around to picking it up, if I only had say one free trial, with any future plays costing money, I would likely pass on the vast majority.

    Such would also require people to create accounts to purchase or listen to the music, which would also likely drive a bunch of people off, myself included, given one of the things that drew me to it was how simple it was to listen to and buy music, no account needed.

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

  10. icon
    Ninja (profile), Feb 25th, 2014 @ 2:33am

    The whinnies are mainly the musicians that can't get along with the times and technology and the MAFIAA themselves as there's not the same profit as they used to enjoy along with the fact that many artists simply don't sign with them anymore.

    It's an agonizing entity that is no longer needed in the music business.

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

  11. icon
    nasch (profile), Feb 25th, 2014 @ 7:05pm

    Masnick's Law

    Waiting for the fulfillment of Masnick's Law... or have even the trolls figured it out now?

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

  12. identicon
    PT, May 12th, 2014 @ 12:36am

    This May Help...

    A solution...

    Make Song 1.
    Sell Song 1 for $1.
    Upload it to the Internet so that people can download it for free.

    Make Song 2.
    Sell Song 2 for $2.
    Upload it to the Internet so that people can download it for free.

    Make Song 3.
    Sell Song 3 for $4.
    Upload it to the Internet so that people can download it for free.

    Make Song 4.
    Sell Song 4 for $8.
    Upload it to the Internet so that people can download it for free.

    Make Song 5.
    Sell Song 5 for $16.
    Upload it to the Internet so that people can download it for free.

    Etc etc.

    * You only sell each song once.
    * To sell the song you get people to contribute money to the price of the song (e.g. crowd funding).
    * This system encourages the songwriter to create better songs.
    * Other things could be sold this way (e.g. films, software, books).
    * The musician gets the price they ask for the song.
    * No more piracy issues.

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

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