In the last few months I have been examining the music industry from many different angles. I’m sure you are aware that one of the realities today is the presence and popularity of music streaming sites.
Like most musicians, I didn’t really see the advantage of such apps and sites early on. I just heard people say that they didn’t pay much, confirmed it on my CD Baby artist account, and didn’t give it any more thought.
Naturally, since my earnings from CD Baby haven’t exactly been massive, it didn’t come to me as any surprise that my streaming earnings were also minimal.
Through my study and investigation of the new industry, however, I came across this article on hypebot: Making Dollars: Clearing Up Spotify Payment Confusion.
While it may not have swayed my opinion completely, it was the first article that prompted me to look at music streaming from a new perspective.
A few weeks ago, while doing my daily social media duties, I came across a post on Google+ that indicated that Adobe was offering CS2 for free. Believing that to be the case, I went to their website to claim my download.
However, it was soon proved to be false. Adobe was not offering CS2 as a free download to the public.
This has gone a long way in showing me that you can’t just color code everything with one brush. You have to study all sides to the story and get a broader perspective on the issue. I see news items like this quite frequently, and I have learned not to be too quick to pigeonhole.
The Reality of Streaming
Dave Macias, the author of the aforementioned article sheds light on some real numbers:
“Owners of masters receive 70 cents from iTunes for a download. Once that sale takes place, the transaction between artist and consumer is complete. But if you are a fan of an artist or a song, and you choose to listen on Spotify, then EVERY LISTEN earns an additional half a cent.”
Big deal, right? A half a cent is really nothing in the grand scheme of an artist’s paycheck.
However, the crux of the argument is that there is a difference between renting and ownership. Buying a song is a one-time transaction. An artist isn’t likely to see the same purchase from the same individual ever again. The artist will not make an additional 70 cents every time the buyer plays that track.
On the flip side, when a user streams a track, they are in essence renting it. If they like it, they may rent it again. And again. And again. Then they might even buy it too.
An artist will see additional income every time their song is streamed. Is it lucrative? Not at all. However, it’s easy to see how a popular song could bring in a healthy stream of income in addition to digital sales, touring and other sources of income.
I’ve already gotten to the moral of the story, so suffice to say don’t believe everything you hear. I believe that artists in general are already discerning and scrutinizing, but to point to a shred of evidence (something you once saw on a blog or your Facebook stream) as Gospel is a little too polarized and rash. The truth, it seems, often lies somewhere in the middle.
Finally, if I could add one thing, don’t believe the hype. Andrew Dubber really nailed it on this point.
Author: David Andrew Wiebe
David Andrew Wiebe has built an extensive career in songwriting, live performance, recording, session playing, production work, investing, and music instruction. In addition to helping musicians unlock their full potential, he also continues to maintain a touring schedule with multiple bands.