Some Thoughts on my Spotify Wrapped

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.

3 thoughts on “Some Thoughts on my Spotify Wrapped

  1. If artists boycotted Spotify in mass, could they keep there music off platforms that use their music until a fairer price is paid. I sell vinyl. Vinyl outsells cds now. The connected generation listens to music services and doesn’t buy. A fairer play price must be eventually paid.

    1. Thanks for commenting George! I think that the market has changed and I think as much as consumers now expect to have ease of discovery, artists need ease of exposure. I could abandon Spotify, but other artists would stay (especially the artists who are represented by the major record companies that cozied up to Spotify to help them stay solvent). I think it’s great that you sell vinyl, but frankly, the margins in vinyl are terrible and it’s hard for me to justify the expense of producing it in the first place. Yes vinyl sales are starting to outpace CD’s but that’s largely because CD’s are taking such a terrible nose dive in the market. Do you sell vinyl online? If so, I would consider you a part of the solutions Im suggesting above. With Spotify and streaming, my music has world wide exposure. Online retailers increase the potential for world wide sales. Finding ways to merge the two is key to our future success, but the market will have to drive that because the industry has shown time and again, it’s really focused on trying to hold onto the status quo.

  2. Hey Jimbo, that is a very thoughtful (w)rap!!! Honest, well articulated, and a positive message with more than reasonable recommendations. Interesting, that is the way I typically use Spotify to enjoy music conveniently for a variety of different listening and practice experiences BUT with the follow up of purchasing tunes or albums from those artists I really enjoy and know can really use the just and more than fair compensation of purchasing their music. Sing on, Jimbo, you had an amazing 2019 and no doubt have more great musical experiences and gifts to share ahead!!!

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