So- I have some things to say about this. But first of all:
Thank you to everyone who listened to me on Spotify. I am glad you have enjoyed my music and it means a lot to me that my songs are getting played so often, in so many places, at so many times (seriously- some of you need to get some sleep).
But there are some important details missing from these reports- I meet a lot of people who see that I have a song with more than 300K plays on Spotify and they assume this means I am rolling in royalties and that I have “made it”. This, put simply, is not the truth.
Spotify pays between $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream. So what does that net me at the end of this year? That is at best $280 for 35 THOUSAND plays. And that is before my digital distributor gets a piece of it.
Compare that to radio, which, on average, offers $0.09 per play. If I had the same plays on radio I would have netted roughly $3,150.
Spotify has identified 10.7K individual listeners who have listened to me this year. Again, those people have helped me net $280. If each of those people went to an online retailer and bought 1 of my songs, I would get roughly $0.88 for each purchase which in turn would net $9416 (That is accounting for the percentage my distributor and the retailer take for the service).
I should mention too, this is all pre-tax. I live in California, so you can bet my walk away pay after all of that is even less than the numbers I am reporting above.
Why does this matter? First of all, writing, recording and performing music is my job. I love my job, which is why I keep doing it despite the miserable and inconsistent pay, but I would love to live off the job I love. The most lucrative portion of my job comes from time spent on stage. That time is a lot of fun, but it also involves a lot of travel, logistics, coordination and time. I also need to keep producing recorded music so that my fans keep having new and interesting music to enjoy. The more time I am doing those things is less time I spend with my family and friends. If I could count on an additional $3K – $9K per year, it would make a big difference in how I live my life and the quality of music I can deliver to you. I imagine the same can be said for pretty much any other independent artist I know.
So what do I want you to do? This is going to sound crazy but, keep enjoying Spotify. It is a fun platform where you can find new music and share that music with your friends. However, if you find someone on Spotify and you love their music, go find it where you can pay for it and buy it. Again, downloading and paying for 1 song can amount to playing it on Spotify roughly 110 times, so you can feel proud whenever you put that song on repeat and drive your neighbors nuts, because you paid for it in advance.
Also – tell your friends about the facts of streaming and royalties. I know full well that my fans love the arts and artists – I feel it every time I’m on stage. But many of the people I speak with are unaware of the lack of compensation from streaming and, when informed, would like to find a way to do the right thing. I have fans who buy hard-copies of my CD’s in earnest (I LOVE YOU FOLKS) but there it is becoming harder and harder to find CD players as they become phased out of our cars, computers and sound systems. Buying hard-copies is not the only way to purchase music. If you are not sure how to buy someone’s music, get in touch with them and ask them. I am easy to connect with through social media and my email is readily available on my website. I promise you, all of the independent artists I know would LOVE to talk to you directly about this and would probably be happy to answer other questions you might have about their art.
The truth is, it is easier now to make a living as a musician than it ever has been, in the sense that there are more people consuming a greater variety of music than ever before. The pieces are all in place. We cannot count on the streaming services to suddenly decide to be responsible and start paying artists fairly – their business models are not designed to do that, so they never will. It is on all of us as consumers to be more responsible about it. I can be better about this and I think you can too.
Thank you for all of your support and I am glad that I get to share what I love with all of you.
If you have made it this far through my rant, I would be foolish not to include some shameless self-promotion. You can go to this link to find places to stream and PAY for my music: https://song.link/album/g/Bgktscztxxt7vmz6m7vm7txy6ny
*Thanks to my friend Grover Anderson for his helpful insight on this.