I feel the need as an artist who’s songs are on Spotify to clear some things up to the general music listening public. With technology advancing so rapidly I don’t think consumers have had the opportunity to educate themselves on how the whole “free music” thing is putting artist’s careers in danger. While free music is great for the consumer who is so over the whole “buying music” concept and the web traffic is great for the sites providing the content (who generally make their money off advertising) it’s not great for the livelihood of your favorite bands and songwriters. The truth is a Spotify royalty pays out about .004 cents per play to the average indie artist who releases and album through a site like Tunecore. There’s been a lot of debate over whether or not that royalty rate percentage is true so I thought I would share a screenshot of my Five Times August Spotify royalties from December 2011…
You’ll see that for 4,498 streams I earned $20.76. Type that in your calculator and you’ll get 0.0046153846…
Perspective: What that means is if I relied solely on Spotify royalties to make a minimum wage income ($1,160 a month at $7.25/hr) it would take 251,333 plays a month! Obviously if December accurately depicts an average of monthly listens I am nowhere close to that, most artists aren’t.
So you might be wondering… if I’m not happy about it why even put my music up on Spotify in the first place? Well, as an independent artist I’ve often found myself caught between a rock and a hard place amongst all these technological advances. You see, the basic goal for most of us self funded lil’ bands and songwriters is to make the best music we can and make a living doing just that. At the same time we also want as many people to hear our music as possible but normally don’t have any kind of big budget to promote it to the masses. That puts us in a situation where we really have no other choice than to distribute our music through as many outlets as possible, even if it sometimes results in little to zero financial income. The gleam of hope in giving a song away is that if somebody hears it and likes it they will buy it and eventually become a dedicated fan. It’s a mutual appreciation for one another, that’s how it’s supposed to work. If you appreciate a song or an album buy it so the artist can appreciate your support. Otherwise, and I hate to say it, don’t consider yourself a real fan.
You might also be thinking “Well, I just don’t buy music anymore, and you’re not REALLY relying on just Spotify for income.. so someone else can buy your album on iTunes and you’ll be fine.” Not so… I’ve noticed in my overall royalty statement that lately subscription and streaming service plays are rising while actual Mp3 and CD sales are steadily declining. I can only assume the same trend is happening for other bands and artists. So the truth is I am starting to rely on sites like Spotify and Pandora to pay for my career. That’s pretty scary. Imagine working for .06 cents an hour! (4 minute song played 15 times an hour)
Honestly, I’m just trying to give you some perspective as a listener. Spotify is fine in moderation or for discovering new artists, consider it a way to sample music – not have it. The fact is, if the free services become “the new thing” for music there are a lot of humble and hardworking songwriters, bands, and artists who’s careers hang in the balance. That’s a lot of music that could potentially change your life that you’ll never know about. It’s important for people to know about this because everyone has the power to control the situation – and I’m not speaking just for my own sake, but for all musician’s sake.
Now that you know, please pass this page and message along, inform your friends and get this conversation going. Start supporting your favorite music again and make the difference.
Thanks for reading,