Another sign that streaming music royalty payments stink

It almost doesn’t pay to be a musician these days.

We’ll take that back and rephrase:  it LITERALLY doesn’t pay to be a musician these days.  And yes, we are using the word “literally” correctly in that sentence..

With more and more businesses deciding to hop onto the STREAMING MUSIC bandwagon, one would think that the greater exposure would result in greater earnings for the musicians and songwriters who are getting their music spread far and wide.

Music Publishing: The Roadmap to Royalties
Music Publishing: The Roadmap to Royalties

It doesn’t.

And more and more, musicians are getting angrier and angrier at companies like Spotify, Pandora, Beats Music and others that are profiting off of their work and not sharing the wealth.

Fine, maybe the word “profiting” is used a little lightly.  They may not be making gazillions of dollars from subscription fees and advertising, but they are turning some sort of profit.

So let’s take a look at YET ANOTHER REPORT OF LOUSY MUSIC ROYALTY PAYMENTS that artists are receiving:

  • Spotify continues to spen 70% of their revenue on royalties.  Sounds good at first, right?  Until you realize that an individual stream of a single song will earn about 1/7th of a penny.  Extrapolate that out a bit, and you’ll see that for an artist to earn $1000 from streaming of a single song that the title would need to be streamed about 715,000 times (assuming our math is right… let’s see, 1/7th of a penny is $0.0014… carry the one, yup.  seems right to us).   What are the chances that a single song would be streamed that many times?
  • Okay, maybe our math above is wrong.  One Spotify report shows a song that was streamed 1.1 million times earned $16.89 for the artist.
  • And if you click through to the above article, you’ll find artist after artist proudly sharing their music royalty checks for $0.01 or $0.03 each.

It makes one shudder about how a musician can make a living.  They’d make more on tips playing the same song to a small crowd at a bar on a Friday night.

What would you do if you were in charge of the music industry today?