How Much Do Music Artists Earn Online?

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Recently, the UK government passed The Digital Economy Act which included many, perhaps draconian, measures to combat online music piracy (including withdrawing broadband access for persistent pirates).

Much was proclaimed about how these new laws would protect musicians and artists revenue and livelihoods.

But how much money do musicians really get paid in this new digital marketplace?

How Much Do Music Artists Really Earn Online?

This image is based on an excellent post at The Cynical Musician called The Paradise That Should Have Been about pitiful digital royalties. (Thanks to Neilon for pointing that out). I’ve taken his calculations and added a few more.

As ever, this was incredibly difficult to research. Industry figures are hard to get hold of. Some are even secret. Last.Fm’s royalty and payment system is beyond comprehension. (If you can explain it to me, please get in touch)

Note: these figures do not include publishing royalties (paid to composers of songs). The full spreadsheet of data does though. You can see all the numbers and sources here:

If you have any experiences, data or royalty statements to share, please post below!

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  • Tom

    Whilst you can make all the comparisons you like about the revenue per stream/revenue per CD sale, the simple fact is that you are falling into the typical music industry fallacy of assuming that a stream is a missed sale.

    There are a great many artists that I listen to on spotify that I would not listen to – at all – if I did not have spotify. I wouldn’t buy their CD, I wouldn’t buy a single MP3 from Amazon, I wouldn’t go see them in concert, but I will stream the tracks 4-5 times a month each. I probably listen to around 4000 tracks a month from spotify – ~9 hrs usage a day, 4 minutes per track – and you can fairly subdivide the £10 I pay a month from that. If I really like your music, I’ll buy the CD as well, but only after I’ve listened to it 20 odd times.

    Here is how I – as a non musician – see how musicians should be generating revenue:

    1) Live performances. If you aren’t doing regular live shows, then you aren’t maximising your revenue and fan base.
    2) Added value physical products. Your physical discs/LPs should come with masses of content about the music. Making of, lyrics, even tabs. You want your fans to want to buy the disc for the extras.
    3) Streaming. You may not make much from it. You’ll make more than nothing.

    • GayJesus

      Tom, I think your heart is in the right place, but sadly the scenario you have come up with isn’t viable. The fact of the matter is that the system is rigged in favor of the record companies. If global sales of CDs spontaneously doubled, there would be very few artists who would also spontaneously be able to make a living from their music. Going on tour and making added value physical products (or just regular physical products) all require some serious cash up front. I work 8+ hours a day at a job I don’t really like so that I can do those things at most once every two years. That’s eight hours a day that I don’t get to practice and hone my craft. I wish I was born with the desire to become a banker because that seems like something you can do rather half-assedly and still succeed, but unfortunately I was born with the compulsion to make music so I am pretty much screwed.

      • paul

        If i was a non musician or a musician TOM .If iam getting music for free through spotify or any other sources why would i buy or download from amazon ,etc .I think the above would be what a normal human being would think .The only way an artiste can build his career in this world now i feel is to earn some revenue from spotify and other online sources get your music out .Let more people hear it and then think about big live performances,where in you can earn more .For that online streaming sources will have to pay more to the artistes thorugh royalties ,etc ……

        • Sofya

          I hate this information (because I am a Spotify user) but I love that you published this information, and in such an easy-to-read format at that. I love the whole idea behind this site.



        • Luke

          The Spotify business plan works on scale. The company is still in growth and the revenue artists receive reflects that.

          Also, there is no evidence to suggest that streams on Spotify affect sales of MP3′s or CD’s.

    • Ted Liscinski

      Most bands now earn a living 3 ways.

      1. Licensing/Publishing
      2. Concerts
      3. Merchandise.

      Unless your band can draw 1000 people a night, you can cross out concerts. The expenses of touring are very high.

      • ClassicPunk

        Slight adjustment: Most bands do not earn a living.

        Many well-meaning suggestions above for how a musician “ought to” expect to make a living. The truth is that even the scenarios in the infographic are over-reporting wages. For example, the “profit” on the infographic of $8 per CD sold only takes one expense into account: pressing and printing the physical CD. It forgets the many many expenses that led up to the recording being ready to press and print, for example, paying for the producer and/or engineer who recorded the music, paying for studio time (or for one’s own personal gear to record the music on, if self recorded), paying the other musicians who played on the record (unless you really are a “solo” artist and played everything), paying for one’s time writing the music, rehearsing the music, performing it for the recording device. These are all real hours spent on the work, and the only payment for those hours comes in the form of a sale or a stream of the music.

        It’s all well and good to say “a stream on Spotify doesn’t represent a lost sale,” but the fact remains that when someone streams the artist’s music on Spotify, they are consuming that artist’s work and the artist is getting paid squat. Just because a person wouldn’t have heard of or bought the artist anyway does not mean that Spotify’s payment to the artist is a fair recompense for the entertainment value derived by the listener.

        • Eltoten

          Do you think that people will make a run for record shops if music wasn’t available online anymore? Not every illegally downloaded CD is a lost sale. For the musician it’s primarily a lost potential new fan who would have gone to their concerts, bought some merchandise and even may have bought an autographed copy of the illegally downloaded CD. Even more so, that new fan would have told friends, posted stuff about the band on social networks etc.

          I’ve always preferred to play a full venue then selling a few more CDs. And I feel flattered to see my band’s albums being circulated on the net. It’s a compliment because someone made the effort to rip and upload it. Seeing others actually downloading it then even liking it makes even better.

        • Kevin Jones

          Once again. This company, Microsoft Corporation, took a chance years ago. A really BIG chance at that time. Bill Gates and company had the audacity to think that code written on paper actually had value. Well, they were right(Bill Gates, Paul Allen and Steven Ballmer are all billionaires). The code once compiled became MS-DOS(an OS that was sold on board hundreds of thousands computers of that era). Well, MS-DOS eventually evolved into Microsoft Windows(try an stream this baby..if possible… and you will go to jail). A musical composer writes or prints music notation on paper that eventually becomes a song. Different product(music not software). SAME CONCEPT!!! Spotify is simply pimping the artists that THINK they are gaining exposure.

      • Cidney

        I think we could add a #4 which is video monetization. Now thanks to some online audio/video platform, artists/professionals/teachers (…) can make money with their video or audio contents. It is very simple, you only need to have a website and internet connection, then you buy some bandwidth from the online video streaming provider, set up your stream and broadcast live or vod. Then the provider add a paywall to the video, like that people who want to watch the video pay with paypal and they can even make a donation.

        I personally advised video monetization for some of my friends, a rock band (DropMotion). They are not super famous (yet) but I told them about the fact that they could broadcast their concerts/gigs live and vod AND make money (usually the venues like it too, and advertise for it). It definitely works for them! They said that they actually bought new music instruments with that money, last time I saw them, made me happy ;-)

        Anyway, if you were wondering who does that, I now there is, and which is the one they use because it seems like they are the cheapest but reliable.

    • Maximillion

      Spotify is owned by Sony BMG Music, Universal Music, Warner Music, EMI and Merlin. Most people don’t know that even though it’s common knowledge in the industry.
      It is in their best interests (not the artists) to keep the royalty as low as possible because they make more profit. Unfortunately that is a massive conflict of interest and pretty bad exploitation.
      Live performance – Ted is right. Putting on gigs is expensive and most gigs with less than 1000 people actually lose money. You need a lot of people at a gig just to break even.
      Added value – there are strict rules about what you can have included with a CD and still be eligible for a chart inclusion. (although 3 months free advertising on x factor is fine) It is also more expensive. Even a small addition can double the cost and remember this is all being paid for up front by people who don’t earn any money…
      Steaming – There is literally no money in streaming at the moment unless you are streaming tens of millions of tracks per month. Mainly for the reasons above and because people believe free music is the right of all regardless of the consequences to the artist. The latter being the single biggest problem.

      • Margaret Buchanan

        I agree wholeheartedly with these comments. The disease of free downloading hurts all artists, with only the exception of those who have already made their millions.

        A decision by responsible governments with a social conscious is probably the best way to bring in effective rules concerning illegal downloading.

        Maximillion covers most issues in this hairy monster. I agree with his/her thoughts.

    • Johnny Hickman

      Sorry Tom and Elotan, your arguments do not hold a drop of water. I support my family with music sales unless someone like you steals it. I work my ass off and spend a LOT of time and money writing and recording my music and selling it. Period. Those other sources (live shows, merchandise etc) are merely a fraction of how I feed my kids. How do you feed yours? Do you want to come work for free at my house? Come mow my lawn or re tile my bathroom okay? Thanks for spreading the revolting idea that intellectual property is not real and should be stolen. Johnny Hickman

  • Sofya

    btw hope you don’t mind that I reblogged it!

  • Will Fieldhouse

    Websites like Spotify can help the music industry exponentially through other means, for example it allows the listener easy access to music that they otherwise would not try, consequently creating a larger fan base that would increase popularity in the band thus creating an opportunity for selling larger amounts of concert tickets and merchandise, every cloud has a silver lining :)

    • NJ Whitey

      Your silver lining is non-existent- i say this as: a long term artist, who has had over 30 records out since the early 90′s, studied music business law, and run several independent record labels.

      The industry has manouevred itself into a position where legalized piracy such as Spotify is its only way of securing an in itself indeterminate future.

      Meanwhile the collapsing revenue streams of labels mean the blandest safest bets are signed, and even the majority of these are underfunded and stillborn.

      Out there on the road, promoters wont pay adequately unless they see recent press… but independent labels cant afford to pay for a half-efficient P.R campaigns as their cashflow has vanished- causing a ‘glass ceiling’ of funding that many talented alternative acts hit, which causes them to stall beneath the radar of the mainstream, where they tread water indefinitely until most spontaneously fall apart.

      We are witnessing a cultural extinction event, commercially viable music exploitation is going the way of the blacksmith.

      • Juju

        Well, same thing is happening to mainstream news outlets…smaller bloggers and DIY writers are making up a much longer tail every day. WRT music, I have purchased single songs from both one-hit wonders from the past as well as unknown artists who’ve become internet-famous off youtube. Never would have done that ten years ago. And I listen to songs on Spotify way more often than I download music from iTunes. Obviously the model needs tweaking, but I think Tom above has some excellent points about how things are changing, not dying.

        Maybe the labels are dying but the artists aren’t.

        • Maximillion

          The news industry is collapsing and the DIY blogger etc popping up don’t make any money – it’s hobby. Meanwhile thousands of journalists and photographers and other related professions are suffering a similar fate. It costs money to collate and report the news. It costs nothing for someone to copy and repeat it.
          Spotify is owned by the major labels they hide the fact to so people think it’s some kind of cottage industry and avoid paying what they should to the people who create the product they actually make money from. Why is it so hard to understand. Have you heard of fairtrade chocolate – it’s the same principal except we don’t have fairtrade music….
          As for finding new music. How does that help the artist when they don’t get paid and can’t afford to tour anyway. It actually discourages sales.

        • Daniel

          @Maximillion (for some reason there’s no reply link on your post), you are throwing piracy and independent content in the same pot, implying (deliberatly?) that all content going coming from non-mainstream sources or going through non-mainstream channels must be illegal.
          Apart from that, your math doesn’t add up. How do you know that these artists actually make less money than they would have otherwise? People cannot buy music they don’t know of. Out of all the artists who must accept the reality of the miniscule royalties earned through the channels at the bottom of the graph, how many would have earned nothing at all were it not for Spotify or
          I’m not defending the grossly corrupt royalty system of the major record labels. I’m just saying that it’s not as simple as “artists don’t earn as much as they could/should/would.” The market has changed from the grounds up, and many people fail to realise. Even most people working at majors don’t, although some of them apparently know quite well how to exploit it.
          While the majors are dying (there’s only 3 left now, with EMI having passed,) the independents are rising. They rely on the new low-royalty major channels for publicity, but they make most of their money through the channels at the top of the graph. They do this through an amortised low-cost way of marketing: supporting great artists, ensuring quality, respecting and caring about their fans. All things that majors have mostly stopped doing a long time ago. People who by physical records from such labels actually get a value in return, which is why they don’t see free streaming as a replacement. Success in music no longer means being able to bribe national radio stations into playing a single and being on the top of some dubious sales chart.
          It’s now more about music and a relationship to the listeners than it has been in a long time, if ever. Those who got it are now making the money the majors forfeited. The others, well, by failing to adapt they ultimately go away, and I for one am not sorry.


      Yes, Will Fieldhouse. You are correct.

    • Kevin Jones

      Every cloud has a silver lining? Spotify, in this particular schema, is seeing nothing but pure sunlight. The artists, the individuals that toiled in producing the music, are the ones that are suffering. Daniel appears to be an extremely naive individual. Perhaps Daniel knows nothing about writing, producing and marketing music.

  • Nick Franklin

    so if my maths (and the above data) is correct, then the entire world population would need to listen to your song once on Spotify in order for you to make a little over 1 million UK pounds from it …nice :)

  • Nick Taylor

    Look at it as free radio – pre internet, the record-selling industry would needs to spend hundreds of thousands in payola to break an act in the US. Now fans are doing that for free via a far more powerful medium of personal recommendation.

    We also need to get away from the idea that anyone has “the right” to work once and be paid forever…

    … and REALLY need to get away from the idea that “the right” to work once and be paid forever can be bought and sold so corporations accumulate the vast bulk of these rights…

    … and REALLY REALLY REALLY need to get away from the idea that these corporations then have “the right” to buy political decisions… that impose laws on the rest of us, which specifically break Internet freedom, and turn it into a surveillance and control mechanism.

    Pre-napster, fewer than 3% of musicians signed to major labels made more than $600 / year from selling records. Musicians never made money from “selling copies” to start with – a big part of which was to do with the utterly exploitative deals that record-companies imposed on them.

    More musicians are making a living from music now than at any time in human history – and it’s because of the internet.

    • David Cavan Fraser

      “More musicians are making a living from music now than at any time in human history – and it’s because of the internet.”

      Really? What is your source of information for this fact? My experience seems to tell me this is not the case.

    • Maximillion

      Unfortunately not true.

    • Maximillion

      Free radio with a product that is not free to create. If shoes are free footlocker is bust. If coffee is free Starbucks is bust. Doesn’t compute. Spotify – owned by major labels and Chinese corporations is in it it to make MONEY. it’s not some cool kid in his bedroom you are defending here. It’s a bunch of corporate whores who would do anything to make profit.They want to make as much money as possible so they don’t want to pay the artist!!!!! Why is it so hard to understand that it is not fair!

      • Daniel

        He didn’t say it’s fair, he said it’s less unfair than what came before. People automatically compare Spotify & Co. to traditional retail as if it’s the same thing, and use that false assumption to claim musicians make less money. It’s a logical fallacy. Nick’s post shows a different angle: who’s to say that Spotify doesn’t (also) replace traditional radio? With the difference that artists don’t have to pay $750’000 to get a single played on the air, but actually can get “airtime” for free.

        Also, please refrain from comparing arts or digital goods with physical goods, these comparisons never work. They are usually used by industry lobbyists to confuse people. No, making music isn’t free, but that’s not new, it never was. Your comparison confuses a work and its copy, a fundamental difference. Copying a digital copy is (for all intents and purposes) free, creating a CD copy or a copy of a shoe design is not free.

        • paul

          “I’m not defending the grossly corrupt royalty system of the major record labels. I’m just saying that it’s not as simple as “artists don’t earn as much as they could/should/would.””

          uhhh, yes. yes it is that simple. and yes, you are defending the “grossly corrupt” royalty system. albeit unknowingly and indirectly.

    • Rub

      “pre internet, the record-selling industry would needs to spend hundreds of thousands in payola to break an act in the US”

      Agreed but, people didn’t get the power to replay the song at will anywhere, they eventually had to go and buy the album or the single if they wanted the song. With spotify giving you the chance to play and replay anywhere I don’t see why anyone would go and buy the music… And realistically as more and more acts join Spotify a payola system will take place for some to come up to the top of the surface.

      • Thaniell

        @Rub: Never heard of a mixtape, have you?!

    • Kevin Jones

      Free radio? On traditional radio broadcasts artists receive royalties. They radio station garners a larger audience. As a result, artists gain more exposure and a larger fan base(depending on the level of talent). Why shouldn’t an artist expect a reasonable profit when selling good music?

  • Benjohn

    I was talking to the sound guy for a very popular rock group a few days back.

    He’s been with them from the start. When they record albums, he’s in the studio. When they go on tour, he goes with them. When they all started out, he and the band, the tours where a lot of fun. They’d travel the world, and have a brilliant time.

    Now they’re all in their 30s and have a wife kids at home and touring sucks – none of them want that life any more. The sound guy’s son literally started to crawl while he was away. They’d like to make albums, but there’s just not any money in that. So they’re probably going to wind the band up.

    Bit of a shame, that.

    • Leven

      That to me seems more of a time-schedule issue than a money issue.

    • John

      None of them want to work you mean? I work 12 hour days 6 days a week to support my family. I am in my 30′s and would love to stop but cant, as my family and I need a place to live and food to eat. Bit of a shame, that…

      So excuse me if I don’t feel sorry for a band that does a live gig 4 times a month or less.

      • FayeAccompli

        BenJohn, I work with bands (some who were on the majors and some trying to break in). You are absolutely correct and it’s the same all over the industry… with the majority of bands in their 20s, 30s, 40s. They work their fingers to the bone and even the best-planned tour can have one or two unexpectedly weak nights which put the whole 2-8-week run in the red. Imagine missing your baby crawling, thinking you’d at least come back with grocery money, and having one snowstorm…or a college basketball game your booking agent wasn’t aware of…kill the draw on the most profitable show of the run. You get to come home empty-handed after weeks of no sleep and fast food. This is the reality even for somewhat successful bands, all but the top few. John insults how hard these artists work. I don’t know any acts, save the rare handful who sailed through the big-label years and have plenty socked away, who have the luxury of working 4 days a month. Try 7-day weeks full of travel, bedbug-ridden motels, and hoping some folks each night bought a bit of merch to boost the tour revenue. Spotify isn’t radio, as said above, it’s on-demand. It’s a sales-killer. The expensive and grueling risk of touring only *hopes* to mitigate what piracy and free streaming have done to strip the consumer of any sense of ethics when it comes to purchase of digital or physical. Most musicians I know who are still in the game work hard. Unbelievably so, often supplementing income with jobs when off the road. Let nobody say they have it easy. None I know do.

      • paul

        no one said you should feel sorry for the individuals in the band. if you like music, then it’s simply a shame that much of it won’t be recorded by seasoned professionals in original bands anymore.
        it’s nice that you work hard to support the family you started. but i don’t feel sorry for you while i work hard making art that people enjoy for a living. i don’t think many other hard-working artists feel sorry for you either

        • Dsorceress

          Oh, boo hoo. I too am an artist, and I am sick to death of the lame arguments surrounding this issue. “Oh! those awful pirates! THEY are to blame for the fact that we make no money!”
          Sorry, but the fiscal realities of starting up a band ‘to make money’ are pretty much the same as when I was in high school, LONG before the internet even existed. The costs are staggering, and the competition for slots is fierce. Always has been, the internet did not change this. MOST bands never break into the big time. MOST artists do it from their garage. Anyone who believes otherwise is an idiot, and someone who has not spent any real time working in the industry. As to what musicians are ‘entitled to’ for the work they do, I suggest that you spend more energy railing at the rapacious labels than at internet piracy, as a reason for the demise of purchased music. When people are expected to pay the same amount of money for a CD that they would spend on three day’s groceries for a family of four, at a time when most people are facing serious shortage of disposable income, THERE is the reason that CD sales have dropped. Notice that movies are still making money even though THEY get streamed too. Why? Because people believe they actually get value for their money; watching a movie in a theater gives them something they can’t get at home, even with a pirated copy. THAT is why ‘the industry’ is dying; it got pimped to death! Let’s be brutally honest for a moment, and peel back the curtain to show the Wizard: the simple fact is that the same technology that makes pirating possible has ALSO reduced the cost of producing copies astronomically. The cost of production is a FAR smaller impact than all the reps who want their piece of the action, and THAT is what adds to the price of a CD. With so many hangers-on who have to get their bite of the pie, it has driven the average cost of an album, or even a single, to ridiculous heights. I used to have a pretty amazing collection of music. But, each time technology steps forward, we are expected to pony up AGAIN for the same music we already bought and paid for, and again the next time, and again, because after all, who even OWNS a turntable any more? Or an 8-track? A cassette player? Anyone? The technology to play those collections continues to be sidelined, yet the cost to replace that music INCREASES even as the COST of producing those copies drops… why? THIS is what is killing the industry. It’s like any other living organism: too many parasites for the host to support.
          The simple fact is, I too am an artist, and I work long hours, and I am away from my home and family frequently. Sacrifices have to be made, and who gets to sacrifice is based on who has the most to lose. I get so sick of the boo-hoo, I don’t get paid for my talent schtick. Yeah, you do. You get paid exactly what it is worth… to the consumer. If they thought it was worth spending money on, they would flock to your concerts and stand in line in the rain for the privilege. If you are not making enough to live on, then maybe you should find other more profitable employment for your main source of income, or lower your expectations for living accommodations, or engage in your ‘calling’ as a secondary form of income… like the rest of us. The simple fact is, and always has been, that a special few will manage to hit the high spots, and no they are not always the true talents. Many gifted artists never see those big lights at all. That is NOT the fault of the internet, but it sure makes a convenient excuse for the wannabes. And the RIAA and MPAA rats will use that angst as a lever to push SOPA and PIPA and other atrocities off on us, things that will make the internet a travesty of its glory.
          Theft is wrong, and internet piracy is wrong. But the simple truth of the matter is that in a digital age, expecting people to pay upwards of $25 for a CD that only has three songs on it that they actually want to listen to more than twice, when the technology exists permitting them to download a la carte, is a dreamworld. THAT is why internet piracy is so common. The industry wants to keep selling that dinosaur, at exploitative rates, and FORCE us to comply, if we want to listen to music at all. I say again, people WILL pay what something is worth to them, will willingly open their pockets and pay if a product is priced reasonably. But music has not been, not for a long time. Show me a website where I can legally download a copy of a song I like, to use as I see fit, to make my own mix tapes with, and I will be happy to pay a per song rate to do so. This is why iTunes works; but if people are pirating then the problem is that the price is TOO HIGH. The reason black markets exist is because those selling ‘legally’ have forgotten the prime rule of sales: People may be willing to pay a little more for a premium product, but they are not willing to be fleeced in the process. If artists expect to get paid for their work, they have to find a way to get it to the consumer at a reasonable cost, not keep trying to fund half of Hollywood with each and every purchase. THAT is how to stop piracy: make a legal alternative attractive and cost effective enough that people’s sense of decency and fair play is not significantly challenged by the outrageous cost of ‘doing the “right thing.” ‘ Especially when so many of us KNOW that a pitifully small amount of that purchase price actually gets to the artist in the first place! Don’t pee on my foot and try to convince me it is raining.

        • Dsorceress

          The difference is that he has accepted the reality that in this marketplace, he must work at a *paying* job for a given number of hours, not expect that he can live and raise a family on maybes. Maybe that next gig will not fall through, maybe there won’t be rain to cut the attendance, maybe there will be enough revenue to pay to get to the next gig and still eat… Lot of maybes there. Apparently, you seem to feel slighted that you can’t make a living at your chosen field, or that others devalue your work somehow because they are not willing to pay $25 to get streaming mp3′s. Well, I would love to have people pay me more for my work too, I work hard, have many years invested in honing my craft, I have college degrees in art and music, yet if people are not willing to buy what I offer, or pay me what I think my time is *actually* worth, I do not call them nasty names. If someone buys a piece I made at a flea market and pays more for it than the original owner paid me, that is nice for the original owner but I don’t get a royalty and I’m not whining about it either. That is the market. Dear Lord, it is almost cliche that artists make more after they die than they do in their working lives… why does this rankle? Many children (and grown geeks) wish that they could grow up to be starship captains but no one is paying to support their dream job either. Just because musicians are ‘driven’ to make music makes them no more special than the craftsmen who are ‘driven’ to make beautiful woodwork, or the artists ‘driven’ to make art (like me,) or the storytellers ‘driven’ to write… even J. K. Rowling wasn’t making a living from her writing until the Potter series took an unexpected rise. Now she is a household name, but she is one of MILLIONS of ‘driven’ writers who will ply their craft in anonymity *forever.* You seem to equate talent with an expectation of commensurate income. Sorry, the world is just plain not that neatly arranged.

  • whoever

    granted we all know that the internet has made a huge difference on the music market .

    but this is revenue by the month for each place to make min. wage
    more than likely there selling at all these places at once so they would
    have to sell less at each place a month as long as there selling at all of
    them at the same time.

    the ones that really get hurt is the co writers , use to they would get
    a percentage for each album sold weather there song was a hit or not
    simply because it was on the album now you get to pick and choose individual songs
    if there song don’t sell no money .

    they also don’t tour or have merch. or anything else except the song they co-wrote or wrote that the artist liked and put on there album .

    but i wonder if co-writers get paid for there songs being
    performed live by the artist or band whether its a hit song or not ?

    • Maximillion

      Yes co writers should get paid for live performances if the prs form is filled in. The facility is in place. In reality many artists writers/co writer don’t receive their royalties.

    • paul

      you don’t know much about how this all works.

  • Taylor Houlihan

    Well… All I can say is that this is the first time I’ve ever seen more zero’s on the artists revenue stream than the labels

  • Jez

    As a DJ and a training producer I jus wana say I love making music. It is the best drug in existence. But wen I release the tracks I am currently makin, I don’t care for a big or any payout. I will jus b ecstatic by people goin out an gettin massive to my music. It ain’t as if I’m rich or even well off I’m lower workin class livin very poor in England tryin to support my family. It’s jus I work for a living. Music is my hobby and artists that adhere to this policy tend to be a little better at their craft.

    • David Cavan Fraser

      Really? Someone that spends 4 hours a week is going to be Better at their craft than someone who spends 60 hours a week?

      • Maximillion

        Yep every great musician, performer, dancer, athlete proves that point. That 10 hours a day practising is for mugs only.

      • Daniel

        Conversely, doing something professionally doesn’t automatically make you good at it. There are many, many really great and talented artists that write and perform only as a hobby. There are many, many professional musicians that many will consider artistically bankrupt. Just look at some of the turds the major labels put out.
        You can make good (and successful) music without quitting your job.

        • Dsorceress

          Hear hear! When did it become acceptable to EXPECT big label payouts from the front end? You pay your dues, and then you hope to get lucky. You work locally, take the gigs you can get to. Go on the road once you have a following, initially to places within a 4 to 8 hr drive. I know a LOT of people who have made comfortable incomes from that, even as a first job. How long you can continue to do that depends on a number of factors, not all of them related to YOUR concept of how good, or desirable, your work is. If it grows, it grows, but don’t expect this. The brutal truth is, even if you are good, chances are that a) you are not as good as you (and your parents/lover/siblings) think you are, and b) even if you are, the toll of the lifestyle will often be too much.
          At some point, there is a push-pull between the demands of the ‘job,’ being away on tour for weeks on end, and demands of a partner, children, etc. Each of those decisions is very personal. But artists do not have the right to expect to be paid what they think they are worth, and to be angry when their dream does not materialize. I realize it is easy to blame it all off on ‘the internet,’ but the internet does not GENERATE new music that people want to listen to. And if it really IS as good as you think it is, then you will have people willing to pay you for your work. They will pay precisely what it is worth to them, though. Remember that.

    • paul

      that’s the stupidest thing i have ever read

  • CR

    can’t see radio earnings.
    streaming = radio, not ownership
    pls compare adequately.

    • Xen

      Figures none of these “the music industry is dead!” folks responded to the most important comment here. The infographic compares apples and oranges.

  • Jax

    Its a shame, that it is so hard to earn a living being an Artist and its even more of a shame, that so many people are trying to excuse the simple fact, that they don’t want to pay proper for that music.
    Not every one can be at the Top of what he is doing. Not every one can have Shows with thousands of people watching, or millions of fans. In the same way: not every one can be a Boss. There are people who just do the normal work and they can live from it.
    To write, record, produce and mix a CD can take a lot of time and even more time if you want to make quality music. So you should be able to live from being “just” a recording musician who does not play live.
    As a medium famous Musician it is even hard to earn much money from performing. If you play in a Band you have to split the income, so you earn almost nothing. Sometimes you even have to PAY if you want to support another band.
    It is so easy. You want something. Pay for it. Pay for it properly.
    No one would ever say it is ok, to work your ass off for free, just because you have the minimal chance to earn something later.
    It is a stupid excuse to say: If I would not listen to it on the internet, I wouldn’t buy it anyway.

    • Daniel

      Pray tell, why is it a stupid excuse?
      I can’t count the number of artists which are well represented in my CD and record collection that I would never even have heard of without the Internet.
      It’s not a stupid excuse, exactly because listening to music on the Internet is free. Meaning: people listen to stuff they otherwise wouldn’t, and sure as hell wouldn’t pay any money for. That doesn’t mean lost money, because the cost of creating a digital copy is practically zero. (If that’s not the case, then the artist has been screwed over by their label).
      I also don’t think it’s unfair to the artists if people who don’t like their music can avoid buying it. It was not nice for the customers before either.

      • paul

        it’s a stupid excuse because most new music is discovered on the internet. curators like spotify and itunes are just popular websites that host files, you can’t credit them for the existence of the internet, nor can you use the internet as an excuse to de-value anything you see fit. if you do, you are actually being quite stupid


    The linked document can not be downloaded without logging into Google before – I do not want to sell my privacy to google trackers, so please put the document on a platform where it is possible to download without having to create an account – e.g. something like YOUR WEBSERVER – man, this was so dead simple 10 years ago, why nowadays the most simplest things can not be accomplished without having an account at the companies, that trample over our privacy rights? Seems to be a mass psychosis or some kind of collective brain desease, even the OWS people need big comoanies to chat to each others – plain dumb? Please just start using your OWN webservers again, thanks.

    • Alex, Editor

      Hello Bughunter,

      Can you be more specific about which link you can’t access without a Google login?

      If it’s a data sheet you’re trying to look at, we set all of them to ‘public’ so a Google account isn’t necessary.


  • Edwin A

    This is ridiculous how people believe Spotify makes artists lose money. I for one love music and I know I am not the only one who actually buys music that I enjoy. If it wasn’t for Spotify I would never even purchase a song by an artist. Before Spotify there was Youtube, and how much did people make off of Youtube? Barely anything as well because people would listen to the song on Youtube and just illegally download the song. Even if its a fraction that the artists are making, it is something rather than nothing.

    An artist I love will always get support from me regardless if I stream their music for free because I will purchase their album, or their songs, and in the future hope to go to a concert. Spotify does NOT harm the industry, it helps artists gain profit and exposure all in the same time. You’re pretty much getting free advertising. Know whats funny? The artist “Oneway” was removed from Spotify and that was the only place I can really listen to their music. Now I can’t; I was not going to purchase their music from the beginning, and now instead of making a fraction of a profit – they will make none – I will just listen to other music and if I feel like I love the song, I will purchase it from Amazon.

    Once again, Spotify DOES NOT harm the artists. It grants exposure, it allows artists to gain an even larger fanbase and allows people to listen to music that they have not heard of. And the fact that Spotify is now the sole music factor on Facebook, a million plays in a week is far more likely than in a month.

    • Lukeskymac

      “Before Spotify there was Youtube, and how much did people make off of Youtube?”

      Google pays the big four, that’s what.

      There are a lot of comments here from people that simply refuse to believe that something as “awesome” as Spotify can be so detrimental to artists and prone to complications.

    • Maximillion

      Youtube was breaking copyright law for years the law and because they are so powerful got it away with it until they were sued. They now pay a crap royalty and make billions from advertising.
      Spotify does not pay a fair royalty to artists. FACT! It is owned by the major labels so there is a massive and unworkable conflict of interest.
      You are so naive it’s incredible. How does taking a product and reinforcing the idea that it free help the artist. The idea of an online jukebox is great but they are ripping off artists. Unless you are in the small minority of major artists it is useless.
      It comes down to people claiming they love music but having total contempt and a lack of respect for the people who make it.

  • Totix

    You compare for starters a cd album with an mp3 song.
    I just stop reading when you do that.

    • Daniel

      I should have too =)

    • Dsorceress

      Yes. That.

  • Dana

    I think all this talk about the record companies screwing everyone is a little off base. Anyone in any kind of entertainment business is going to have a hard time making a living. Whether you’re a musician, or an actor, or an athlete, only the top few percent ever really make a lot of money. Everyone else fights for scraps. And I think the reason for that is that there’s a tremendous amount of time and cost involved in writing, production, marketing and distribution of a product, so you have to sell a LOT of whatever you are producing so everyone in the chain gets a share. Very few artists can do that. I’ve played on 5 albums for various artists over the years and the sales barely covered the recording costs, so I have a little experience here. lol

    • Maximillion

      There are great labels and management companies who are in the same boat as artists. The majors are different and they own Spotify. They just care about money not the artist. Fair point it’s business after all but without the artist their is no business. This is the same as banks, corporations and all big business. All artists want is a fair deal and experience shows big organisations have to be forced to do that because they will never do it voluntarily.

  • SSR

    While I have no argument with the raw figures stated or the pitiful amount of money the artist receives, as someone who has done an independent label for 10+ years, I need to mention that the money split between the artist and label represented in the graph doesn’t hold true for a lot of indie labels. My label and many others follow the 50/50 split of profit established by labels such as Touch & Go and Dischord in the 1980s. We also do a 50/50 split of digital revenue with expenses (accounting, very minor production work) being taken out of the label’s split. While this is not the rule for indie labels it is fairly typical. The split in the artist/label split in the graph is truer when applied to major label/artist relationships, rather than indies.

    Caveat: With very few exceptions, major labels are going to generate more sales than indie labels. So even with a 50/50 indie split, the money made off of digital sales is still pitiful in comparison to when physical sales were king.

  • me

    dont like this

  • Laudaunt

    The reason why the music debate has been going on for so long is down to several points of clash:

    – Could the music industry survive without these proposed new measures in effect?
    – What effect would this have on the public in terms of whether they would get the music or not?
    – Should it be punishable by law to illegally download (with severe consequences?)

    While we all know that technically it is illegal to download media for free when it should be purchased, I think a grey area should be acknowledged here. Whilst many people illegally download, many argue that it is through the illegal downloading that they might download the music of an upcoming artist and then if they like it, go ahead an purchase their music. This suggests the idea of illegal downloading being used as a sample for artists. Others will argue that free software such as Spotify Open can be used for the same purpose without infringement of the rights of the artist.

    Also, a greatly debated opinion is that do musicians really need this? After some debate I feel the answer is no. Whilst there are musicians who do not make as much money as others – the fact is that the most illegally downloaded albums correspond directly with the most purchased albums. The proportional effect is essentially the same. The more people who illegally download it, the more popular it gets and the more people purchase it, or vice versa. Musicians who (quite rightly) complain that the illegally downloading is bad for them are correct – but the less popular they are the less likely they are to have their music downloaded at all, purchased or illegal. The proportionate effect is the same. I conclude that artists can live with it. After all 50% of their money usually comes from concerts and I’m fairly sure that at least half the people who attend would have at some point downloaded one of their albums for free. It’s all relative.

    Despite this, we should remain vigilant. Illegal downloading, whilst at the moment not a large threat to the music industry, has the potential to become one if it spreads too fast.

    Overall I think that it SHOULD be made punishable by law, but there should be a lot more leniency in terms of the sentencing. Feel free to contribute anything I’ve missed.

    • Maximillion

      50% comes from concerts is totally bogus. Touring is incredibly expensive is loss leading until you get big enough to make money. Why are there many “experts” with no knowledge of what they are talking about. It’s more like golf or tennis – if you are a top 10 ranked and successful you make plenty of money if you are on the way up it’s a massive struggle to even get to the competition and pay your expenses and even more so because there is no money!
      It may be 50% for Beyonce but not most bands on the planet.

      • Dsorceress

        Even if that is true, Max, it is not the fault of the Internet or piracy. Laudant makes an extremely valid point. Is internet piracy going to be a significant impact on the income of some artist no one knows about or has ever heard of? Contrariwise, do you think that Madonna or Beyonce are going to go broke as a result of it? Fact is, if you are bigtime enough for anyone to BOTHER to rip and share your work, chances are that even if piracy is costing you real money, it isn’t something you can’t afford. Not that this makes it OK, but it does sort of put the lie to the refrain of how internet piracy is ‘bankrupting the music industry.’ Truth is, the industry is a dinosaur, and it is dying for precisely the same reason that dinosaurs did: It has outlived its usefulness and is unable to adapt to the new environment. Blaming internet piracy for its demise is like blaming birth for aging; it is a consequence, not a cause.

  • Gretta

    This is the kind of infographic that makes me want to give up my dreams forever and become a sales person at the foot locker. Everyone needs shoes. I think the way to be “successful” in music is to put absolutely NO reliance on sales and just take pleasure in the art form itself. Find something else to do to make money. . .unless you are already famous or your parents were you’re not going anywhere.

    • Macky

      I totally agree. Music is a special gift and if you hate making music unless you’re getting paid then you’re doing it for the wrong reasons in the first place. If music is your passion it will flow from you and that will feel amazing in itself, and you will be happy.

  • charley

    Two things i’d be interested to get peoples thoughts on are….
    1. Why are labels viewed as ‘the enemy’ by so many. Is that a fair statement?
    2. Do people think policing of the internet is completely unacceptable?

    • Maximillion

      Major labels are big international businesses and act in the same way as other big corporations. Oil companies, banks etc. Their bottom line and profit to shareholders is the only thing that matters. That means they will crush anyone to make a profit and that includes their own artists. Spotify is also exactly the same and owned by the same major labels and other dubious businesses but they’ve made people somehow believe it’s something else.

      Downloading music for free became so easy everyone did it but it is actually illegal and there are laws against it. It feels different but the result is the same. If everyone just takes what they want from the corner shop it won’t last long.

      • Daniel

        No, it’s not the same. I’m agreeing with a lot of your views and points, but please stop comparing physical goods and digital goods, and read up on the economy of non-scarce goods. Old-world rules can’t simply be applied 1:1 to the new media.

        • Dsorceress

          Exactly, Daniel, and this is the sticking point. Digital media is NOT the same as a physical product, and this is how the RIAA and MPAA keep muddying the issue; comparing internet piracy to a kid shoplifting CDs at the department store is completely bogus. It is more like trying to charge your neighbor with a crime for bringing his copy of Shrek to your house and watching it on his big screen TV. He should not get to watch it because he didn’t buy it? Should this same logic be used against the other people in your family; should they all have to buy personal copies or is it ‘stealing’ for the kids to watch a DVD that Dad bought? If it’s OK for the family to share it, what about your inlaws when they come in from out of town; do we have to lock up the DVD case and the CDs until they leave, because they have not ‘paid for the right’ to share them? What about TiVO? Should it be illegal to set your recorder to tape shows while you are at work; if your work schedule happens to run through your favorite program then you should be SOL because ‘copying’ that episode to watch it at your convenience violates the artists right to be paid for the performance? Think this logic through carefully.

  • Maximillion

    Excellent post and some interesting comments here.
    Unfortunately a lot of very naive views the reality of being a musician.

    The modern artist has to invest a fantastic amount of time and money in order to be any good in the first place. Years of practise, thousands spent on equipment, rehearsal costs etc. You could have any degree in less time than it takes to be a really good musician.

    What the latest figures actually show is that even if you manage to be reasonably successful (4,000,000+ plays on Spotify/1600 downloads a month) you can’t make even enough money to live never mind continue with your career. Technology has made it cheaper to make records but still costs time and money to create, record and market.

    “Just go out and do more gigs.” If there is no money you can’t – it costs money to drive around the country doing shows as a solo act and if you add musicians, hotels and food, venue costs, parking it costs even more. It’s not rocket science.
    Yes U2 and the like make millions touring because millions of people pay £100+ a ticket to watch them but that is the exception. Phone up your local decent small venue and see how much it costs to put a gig on. You’ll get a shock. Multiply that by 20 cities and add the other costs. Your bankrupt!

    As for the bizarre maths showing download and streaming are closer than the table suggests. Obviously they are not and that is misleading. It doesn’t matter whether you listen once or a million times to music you have bought. With a stream you are renting and paying a royalty. The point is it is an extraordinarily low amount and is not enough so undermines sales in the same way as illegal downloads.

    Streaming services like Spotify are ripping off musicians by claiming it’s radio. It’s not radio it’s a jukebox but because it’s owned by Sony BMG Music, Universal Music, Warner Music, EMI and Merlin (how many people know that?) they are planning on earning money in other ways so they don’t care as much as they should about the artists. In fact it works better for them if they can keep the artist payment as low as possible. Just a slight conflict of interests….

    Always astonished by some of the negative and frankly creepy comments some people make as if the artist deserves to be ripped off. Most artists i know would be happy to just make enough to live and continue making music. The point being it’s almost impossible at the moment and if it doesn’t change all we will be left with is reality show garbage and novelty records.

    It’s very tough being a musician these days but the world would be a worse place without any.

    • Jonathan Haizel

      Maximillion, thank you for your informative comments and posts. I have read through all of the comments and yours are the only ones that consistently make sense, and I totally agree with you that it is quite unsettling to see peoples mis-guided opinions but I am seeing reflections in other sections of society, politics, banking etc… it seems the big corporations hide behind these deliberately set-up smoke screens of confusion all the while trying to make as much money and hold onto as much control as possible, all the while, leaving the general public to argue over the points that they THINK are the real issues when really many of us have no clue! Your examples of everybody beleiving music should be free is a good example of how people have been brainwashed by popular culture into thinking, every musician is a Jay Z or Beyonce or Bruno Mars capable of arrogantly commanding millions in revenue when that is clearly not the case.

      I am a producer and songwriter and have had a little success with sync deals and hope to someday quit my day job, but I am under no illusion that that day will actually happen with “more gigs and more hardwork” that is way too naive. The one way to increase my chances, along with making sure I am the best musician I can be, is to make sure I understand as much as I possibly can, the inner workings of the BUSINESS of music and what motivates the corporations, what goes on behind the scenes, what new trends are and staying flexible enough to be able to move with changes in the market. I know its sad, that as a musician, that is what I feel I must do, but I am not greedy, as are not most musicians, but there is no-one else out there that is going to look out for my interests, so if I dont, who am I expecting to do it for me…..?

      Maximillion, if there is anyway I could stay in touch with you I would greatly appreciate access to your incites, please let me know if you have a blog or twitter account? my email ad is

      Many thanks


    • Corey Makaih

      That is why you need to “Plan” In ANY business it takes start up costs, advertising, marketing, etc just like any other business. It’s not going to be easy just because its music. Not everyone has what it takes to be successful at music. That’s not to say you can’t be successful at doing it. People want the easy way out but really music is just as hard as starting any other business. If you want to do it, commit to it! There is no Music Industry. It’s all business no investment = no success. You can’t expect to spend all your money on new equipment, album covers, and website graphics without accounting for Marketing and Promotion for shows. Why would anybody come to your show and they don’t know about it? I mean, use the internet!
      Google adwords, Reverbnation, Cd baby, Youtube, there are so many options.
      Invest in your music just like any other Business! No matter how great your music is, no one cares if they can’t find it!

    • Dsorceress

      *sigh* It has always been tough being a musician. Think about how much it cost to get to national prominence in a world BEFORE radio, TV, etc. The simple fact is that just because a vanishingly few people make huge money at this, does not mean that anyone can decide that they have a right to be recompensed for how they chose to spend their time. No, you do not have a ‘right’ to make a living as an artist. Most of us DON’T make it. I made a fairly decent living as an artist for several years, but I decided it was better to do it on the side because it does not pay steadily. It never did, and not just for me, and not just because I wasn’t ‘good enough.’ There is a lot of competition, and the big media labels have a pretty solid lock on things because they are the only ones with pockets deep enough to do the kind of advertising one must do to get to national prominence. But, just like all other financial ventures, the people who do the meaningful work do not take home the big bucks; those are reserved for the CEOs. Nothing different about this in the music biz as in any other venue. You can fly solo, just like any other biz. Make a better mousetrap, market it from your laptop at home. You will make a little money, then if you spark any real traffic, you might be offered a chance to sell your rights to someone who will ‘package’ it for you, and the end result will be you becoming the next McDonald brothers or Rod Canion… sitting on the sidelines making a pittance, watching someone else benefit from your work.
      Sound unfair? IT IS. But guess what? It has ALWAYS been that way, and in every single business model, not just the music industry. LOTS of professionals, in all walks of life, work very hard perfecting a craft and don’t get paid what their time and quality is worth. Welcome to reality! And guess what? The internet did not create THAT either., What it did do, though, was to make it a lot easier for a start up than it ever, ever was. So stop raining on the parade, for crying out loud. Stop weeping into your Wheaties because it’s so hard to make a buck at this. Most of the great artists, whose names we are taught in school, died as paupers. Mozart shares that fate with Woody Guthrie. Marilyn Monroe and Vincent van Gogh as well, and too many more to mention. It is part and parcel of an artist’s life; unlike shoes or food, people only buy art or music that appeals to them personally, and only with their disposable income. These are luxuries not necessities. Yes, music may make life worth living, but it can go by the wayside if it comes down to a choice between buying that CD or getting the baby diapers. Too many artists forget that. Yes, it is hard work, but until someone OFFERS to pay you for it, it is your HOBBY not your ‘business.’

  • roman

    i see alot of comments saying record companies take a big percentage. but what about indie bands that make deals with spotify from sites like cdbaby, how much do they get?

  • LAG

    Spotify now pay much more per stream as the revenue is growing with ads and subscribers.
    So almost 30 times higher as in the chart.

  • Jon Collins

    Great post, wonder if it could be re-done sometime soon with up-to-date data and maybe comparing this with radio plays instead/as well as. Currently I hear Spotify is paying as much as 4x more per play as stated here.

  • Aidan Hoyle

    It is great that the conversation continues. The Cynical Musician has just added another interesting post about Spotify revenue streams. Faza posted it 2 days after the Forbes article on Spotify’s Daniel Ek –

  • Bryce

    I’m a musician and I say steal it. fucking steal it away.
    Money = Touring.

    • JoeMaMa

      Where can I listen to your brilliant music? You musician you. I can’t wait to be blown away!

  • Stephen

    If an artist thinks the system is exploitive, then they should find another line of work. Why would anyone pay for something they can get for free? This is an especially pertinent question when the free acquisition of the product is absolutely legal! Whose fault is it that it’s legal? The artist’s! If the artist is agreeing to the terms set out by the label, then whose fault is it when those terms come to call?

    When musicians leave the field en masse, maybe there will be a change. Until then, market forces simply will not support full-time musician as a career. It does no good to prop up a market with laws or regulations. Markets will do what they will do.

    And if one musician says “I won’t work for this,” it won’t be enough – not if there are 50 other “full-time” musicians who are ready and eager to sign whatever contract the label puts under their noses. It will take a full-scale exodus. Things won’t change until that happens.

    • Kit

      Two words for you, my fine friend: victim blaming.

    • paul

      the system is evil. but what’s worse is when people use it as an excuse to disrespect an artist’s release terms. you enjoy art yet you think artists should find a new job since you’re too cheap, or daft to understand why one should fund it.

      well then go watch someone drive a bus the next time you want to be entertained. hypocrite.

      • Dsorceress

        That is a very unfair rationale, Paul. Did someone hand you a paycheck the day you stepped out of high school, or did you have to COMPETE in an open market for jobs that others with more talent were also competing for? Why do you think that musicians should somehow not be expected to live under the same restrictions? Were you allowed to *decide* what you would be paid for your time and effort, or did your employer decide that? No one here is saying that artists should work for free. What we are saying is two things: First of all, in a recession, the grocer is going to do better than the shoe salesman, because people have to eat, but they can make do with their old shoes for a while longer. Music is not a necessity, it is a luxury. And it is also subject to varying tastes. Lots of things that get in the way of a revenue stream that are simply reality. That is not dissing musicians, it is making the POINT that music, as a craft, is not necessarily something that can be counted on as a steady source of income, and that is not being mean it is being real. Secondly, when it costs for example $8 per unit in actual costs to produce and market a PHYSICAL product, $16 or even $24 is not an unrealistic figure. But when that same product now costs $0, or next to, in production, so the production costs are now down to less than $.50 per unit, it is unreasonable to try and market that same product for $25+ a pop. Especially when it is the PRODUCERS pocketing the difference and not the artist. People are just not that stupid, and they will feel used, which is the 500 lb gorilla in the room that the RIAA and the MPAA don’t want to talk about. This feeling of being used is what drives many to piracy; they are resentful and use this resentment to justify it in their minds ‘because those greedy a-holes deserve it.’ Again, this does not excuse it, it is still wrong, but the industry refuses to come to the table and adapt to the new reality; they want to FORCE people to pay rapacious amounts for music in order to continue to justify their existence. As Danny de Vito famously pointed out in Other People’s Money, the best buggy whip maker in the world eventually had to give it up because the money just wasn’t there any more. It did not take any less skill to do the work, he was not less of a craftsman… there was just no more work for him to do. And until the music industry can figure out how to pare their expectations down to reality, and realize that you cannot get $10 per song in a digital age, but you might be able to sell a million or more copies at $1-2 apiece, you are GOING to see piracy continue. Even it it is not online, even if it is copied and shared on CDs or thumb drives, it will still happen. People will not continue to be used like that. Reality is not always fair, but it is always real

  • AR

    Would love to see broadcast radio (I’ve no clue on that pricing model), resale (assumed $0/$0) and loan programs (library – also assume $0/$0).

  • Stonecarver

    Think back to WHERE you saw the download links for limewire ,Kazaa,bit torrent ect..That would be Cnet or Znet owned by CBS-Viacom with partnerships and of course download links to ALL of the big boys behind SOPA,PIPA & now OPEN the next incarnation of this rather nasty set-up. Who was it that gave step by step instructions on how to use this software using COPY WRITTEN music and movies/tv shows as examples ? Who was it that demonstrated the effectiveness of these very programs in side to side comparisons once again using COPY WRITTEN music and movies/tv shows as examples ? And last but no means least Who was it that hosted reviews & blogs extolling the comparative virtues of all of these EEEvillle file sharing programs ? Why that would be our usual suspects Cnet,CBS-Viacom,Disney,and all of the rest of the SOPARISTS. Just a thought but by distributing and providing step by step instructions on effective use of the file sharing software according to the very laws being used to arrest every one from teenagers to Mega-upload wouldn’t that make the SOPARISTS as guilty if not MUCH more so ?

    Also wouldn’t providing the tools necessary, step by step instruction, comparisons and ongoing encouragement be legally regarded as IMPLIED CONSENT or at the VERY least entrapment? Just askin. It would seem to me that the first stop of call for artists to receive (much deserved ) compensation would be the media companies that worked so hard to create, distribute,and encourage the very file-sharing tools they now decry
    So to sum up The very groups that originally provided the tools necessary, step by step instruction, comparisons and ongoing encouragement for citizens to download media from the internet (with their APPARENT blessing) are now pushing punishing the leaders of any countries that will listen for not handing over defacto control of the net and arranging to incarcerate ANY citizens using the VERY tools they worked so very hard to get into use…Am I missing anything ?

    • paul

      or you could just pay the artist for their work and not use some tired old evil record industry as an excuse. artists don’t care about how much you hate the system. they also hate the system, and they hate when you use the system as an excuse to rip them off.

      • Dsorceress

        Then live within the system yourself and stop using the same tired, old, evil-internet-piracy as an excuse for the failures of the music industry to keep up with the times. Most people are honest as long as they are dealt with fairly; many studies have shown that people are more willing to ‘cheat’ when they think they are being taken advantage of than when they believe they are getting their money’s worth. Cuts both ways, Paul. -.-

  • mitch

    Funny, how much is a CD in your country ?

    In mine it’s about 15 €, not dollars… About 20 USD…

    How can we buy something so expensive ? That’s a good question ? To me mp3 sound like s..t, and I can’t find .wav or .cda to download too… That’s a big problem… Again…

  • Lauren

    I saw a piece of this infographic (the first 4 scenarios) on facebook and did the math myself. The numbers are quite wrong on three out of four of those instances, and it’s unfortunate that the original “mathematician” who came up with this ludicrous spreadsheet has had the ability to metastasize this misinformation.

    Assuming the difference between the $9.99 and the total revenue figure (artist revenue + label revenue) is the total expenses, the only math that checks out is the cdbaby scenario (must sell 155 units per month). “Unit” equals 1 CD.

    In order for the artist to receive $1160 per month:

    For a self-pressed, if costs are $1.99 per unit (the difference between $9.99 and the $8.00 the artist receives), the artist has to sell 145 units.

    For the retail album, if costs are $2.49 per unit, the artist has to sell 580 units, not 1161.

    For the album download, if costs are $3.70 per unit, the artist has to sell only 184 units, not 1229.

    It would be time-consuming to continue on this road, but please go back and check your math before spreading misinformation in an infographic.

    • Phil

      I think you’ve missed the point completely there Lauren. You seem to be adding the label’s share and the artist’s share, and then dividing 1,160 by that number to get the required units. But the artist doesn’t get the label’s share, so that really doesn’t make any sense.

      Not sure where you’re getting “cost” from either. I mean, obviously you’re adding the artist and label shares, then subtracting that number from the retail price paid, but that isn’t really anybody’s cost in the normal sense of the word. That number is just whatever the artist and the label don’t get from the sale.

      Let’s try again, except use the artist’s share only this time, since that’s what they would actually be able to use to buy bread, milk and Ernie Ball’s finest.

      Album download: 1160 (target price) / 0.94 (artist’s earnings from one sale) = 1,234

      But wait! The graphic says 1,229. Indeed. I think we can assume that the revenue shares were rounded for ease of presentation. Let’s say that the actual number was 0.944.

      1160 / 0.944 = 1,228.8

      Near enough I think.

      Interesting use of “metastasize” too. A bit dramatic maybe?

  • K-OTIC

    Interesting read and i see tons of interesting comments, its crazy how this conversation is still going on. #ClassicBlogPost and kudos to the author. I myself am an indie producer and artist and I own my own Indie Music Production/Marketing company I Am A Brand Media Group LLC.There are PROS and CONS with all of this

    My opinion is that giving out my material for free is actually the only way I can compete w/ the majors. That is if I want to stay relevant so its a must for me to have a shot of being successful. I wouldn’t have the budget to get on major radio or distribution to the Wal Marts & the Best Buys nor would I have the budget to perform at arenas and shoot million dollar videos or get on the BETS or MTVS or VH1s. Another fact is that even though it pays little, it still pays, and if your an artist or a producer who is really trying to maximize his/her revenue you must take advantage of all avenues and not really on just one promotional or income source. If spotify is playing such small returns how about making up for the revenue by monetizing your youtube videos and your website or your blog w/ google ads? Thats what I do. Sell merch on your website. OR learn more trades and offer more services such as promo services and graphic designs, etc. As a matter of fact when somebody visits my website I make an average of $0.05 per visit due to PPC ads and Google adsense, so even though I’m not getting paid for the free download or stream that a fan/potential fan took advantage of, I’m still generating some form of revenue(even though it is little) just for the visit(on average).

    Now the issue is with the payment model it self, & the payment model is 100% NOT FAIR to the artist and all of the contributors of any music project. It has nothing to do w/ the fact that a fan gets the music for free, that is irrelevant.

    A cable tv customer gets to watch Jurassic Park for free whenever TNT plays the movie because they have paid the cable tv provider for the access. The difference is that THE CABLE PROVIDER PAYS THE NETWORK for their content so they can have a customer base in the 1st place. The difference is that THE NETWORK PAYS THE MOVIE COMPANY for the rights to show the movie. And the difference is that THE ADVERTISERS PAY THE NETWORK to display their commercial. So in this modern day of the internet and of free music, it really boils down to the royalties that are being payed by these sites/services and those royalties that are being received by the labels and the artist and contributors. The problem lies when sites like Spotify and Rdio pay such little to the artist. This is and is not radio. It is radio because it is free for the listener (not including satellite) and they generate their income by commercials/ads, at the same time it is not radio because fans control the playlist and not payola & that is the main reason why a fan is interested in a Spotify thus whya pay for play or web traffic makes sense, I just want a fair compensation!

    I understand that if a million people are all streaming a million different artist at the same time then you have to pay a million artist that fee, as oppose to a million people listening to 1 song at the same time since radio controls the playlist BUT that is the service you offer and your advertisers and premium members will still cover the expenses for you, even if you automatically play ads or display pop up ads every 3 or 5 songs such as Pandora. If Youtube or Spotify or w/e website is generating money whether it is by ads or premium memberships or premium subscriptions, or one time fees, etc. then I should be given a certain percentage on top of that stream(similar to reverbnation even though it is minuscule) or simply just a better rate.

    Artist are the reason why fans and customers are streaming or downloading music on the website in the 1st place. If it wasn’t for your favorite band on these websites then there would be no listeners or fans which means there would be no advertisers which then mean there would be no website. Also most people here are not calculating the cost of distribution(which is fee based or % of sales/revenue based therefore eating away at the revenue), yet alone other cost such as recording, mixing, promotion/marketing, etc, but this is the cost of the music business, has been and always will be.

    At the end of the day its a double edge sword. It means us as INDEPENDENT artist and producers and song writers have to work harder AND smarter just to make decent money. We no longer have to depend on a major to get our music out to the world and in addition we get to control the type of music we release. However we no longer have a power house machine behind us if we were signed and promoted BUT on top of that and at the same time we get to keep the majority of whatever income we do make if we do make money since we own our own music and publishing.

    • Dsorceress

      Yes! Most sense posted so far. Hat’s off to you, K-OTIC.

  • Mark

    Fascinating discussion. As an artist who has released 3 independent records myself, i live or die by the internet these days. i won’t be played on your local radio station, I’m not signed to a big label. i don’t tour much, and i have to have a day job to make ends meet. I don’t have the money to take out full page ads in rolling stone. so how do i get my music out to people, places like spotify, rhapsody, that’s how. It’s a streaming site which means it’s like radio, radio who’s playlist is controlled by the user, not payola from a big label. there seems to be a lot of indie snobbery on here from musicians who think their art has been devalued or something. well guess what. take your music off spotify, go ahead. live in your closeted world. and see how many people come to your shows or buy your music. i won’t because i won’t have heard of you. what the chart needs as other people have mentioned is a comparison with radio and nothing else. take a history lesson through music, in the 60/70′s you might have been in a band never got signed and put a record out. then when punk broke and independent music came to pass, more people with less talent were able to put records out, increasing competition (or choice whichever way you look at it), but competing for your dollars nonetheless. now with the internet and cheap home recording even more people make music 90% of whom would never have released a record 40 years ago. some of you ‘artists’ need to get off your high horse, and stop being so precious. making a living at this is all about publicity, if you want to keep to your little clique of friends, and have 2 men and a dog show up to your gigs, you can do that. for those of us that don’t we’ll alow our music to be streamed.

    • Shonn Frank

      Yeah, that’s basically what I was trying to say. lol I would never want to go back to the days of whoring for record labels. The more people that hear your stuff the better. IMO.

  • Shonn Frank

    Great discussion. I wrote an article that was very well received on this topic about two years old. Much has changed since then, and I’m still not sure which side is ultimately “right”. However, I still personally maintain that this is all a good thing for artists.

    And just to add to that, I could cite my own experience. When I wrote that two years ago I had been on year 6 of my “hiatus” from music (you could say retirement, but that would suggest that I earned some sort of living in music.) Yeah, from high school to around the age of 30, I put (what I thought at the time was) everything into “making it” in the industry. I spend money on studio time and demo tapes and did shows in dives in front of anywhere from 1 to a few hundred people, with most closer to the 1.
    All during that time, it was a “gamble”, all or nothing. You were praying that you rub shoulders with or at least get heard by “the right person.” No matter how good I thought I was, it was about hustling to get that break, very political. The ones who faired were the ones who could also BS. BUT there was never the idea that one could earn a living. You were either a “starving musician” sleeping on your groupie’s sofa or you got a crappy record deal that left you high and dry OR you were making money, but only a fraction of what you deserve. A decent deal would be earning about a buck on a 19.99 CD and forget about keeping any publishing. And even THAT was hitting the lottery, because that was the only way.
    I think some people are assuming that artists were doing great before all this. No. And most like me had to give up what they love and give up the dream of getting a contract.

    Anyway, a year ago, I decided to go back to work on music, because I saw a chance. First of all, what digital technology has done for music production (in my particular genre of hip hop especially) is a miracle. But besides that, there is now an opportunity to do it yourself. I wouldn’t understate the importance of people streaming your music. Do any artists here remember how hard it was to get ONE person to just shut up and listen to your stuff for a minute? lol

    Of course, I realize that I am taking an unpopular angle. I truly feel that having people hear and appreciate my music is the most valuable thing to me.

    Plus, another important factor is that an artist has no overhead. Last century, music was a tangible product. To have even 1000 CDs pressed was too much for an indy artist to handle. Now, you have virtually a whole warehouse full of your music. Then there is merchandise. A place like allows you to design your merch and sell it right there…again no overhead. And overall, no one has their hand in your pockets. It’s all yours.

  • Raj Agrawal

    Interesting. The numbers in the info-graphic might not be apt enough, but it still sends out a clear message. More we have a presence of innovative online music streaming services like Spotify, sooner will the music piracy fade out. I doubt if piracy will actually end. It’s more about circulating money in right amounts and direction.

  • Mr faszhead

    Who really can show up something for the people ,will be famous on some are and get money from it. If he realy can play in live what he made , than soon he will get enogh to just live the life and ,making music,making music,playing, making music playing……
    those people who just sit at home with the downloaded software and some kind of way accidently made a dubstep what maybe sounds good, they realy shouldt cry, and say that they are music artists. Of course the best people will just go higher,even in dubstep 2, they are good, not like 1000s of other home “own signed up for artists”.
    I live on mainstream area, make music for mainstream, i play music for myself, and i wont get money from it, if i will be realy good in that what i do,than yes,i will go hogher 2. But these days, jusr aly do not understand people, why they do cry, they can push the on the software and play the soundloops,what they already downloaded,or bought…….
    If i calculate these people bethween “artist”category, than i would say that the artist has very hard times in these days to get money out from it. If i do realize,that they are hard away from beeing artist than, the real musicians who has more creativity than playing 200000times played soft rock, than they i do say that they dont have harder possibility to live for/from music than40 years ago.
    I am shit in music making, why should i put myself higher, like 10000of others.
    And just respekt for real artist,who realy can play more than learn guitar stuffs in the school. (i learnd too)
    Shorty, the bests will be always knowned, the low level will just cry like “the forgotten “artists”".

  • Macky

    So what’s the solution? Why are we all the victims of these big corps ruling the world?

    If anyone is out there actually coming up with a solution, a fair way for artists to be paid for their wares please reply to this post. The only reason the big corps are in charge is because the rest of us think that it’s only them who can change things. We are not powerless; there are so many people commenting here, and these people are a minute fraction of the people who would like to see a fair exchange between artist and listener.

    How can a CD or mp3 sale be compared to a listen on Spotify? If I like a track I’ll listen to it on Spotify anywhere between 50 and 200+ times a year. An album that I like I’ll listen to say 30 to 100 times a year. You’d have to divide the revenue of a bought CD or mp3 by 500 to 1000 to compare to Spotify listens.

    If the rate is .04 of a euro cent (see for a Spotify play, then 520 listens by a single fan per year (10 listens per week) would equal 0.20 euros. Thats only 5 fans listening on Spotify to give the artist the equivalent of 1 CD sale. Bearing in mind that a CD will possibly be lent, copied (copies then copied and shared with friends) and eventually sold on (with the original copies still on peoples PCs, mp3 players, etc) the revenues could even be equal in some cases (please don’t pick the maths apart, there are obviously variations within this as not all people lend their CDs to others or copy them). Similarly an mp3 downloaded for 99 cents will often be copied and be listened to countless times for that single sale.

    Further to this this is the exposure (abd therefore value) that Spotify offers through the sharing of playlists and notifications of what friends and peers are listening to, no to mention the fact that I can listen to an artist/track/album in good quality at my leisure as many times as I like without the commitment to purchasing anything. Therefore I can hang out with music that is new to me where and when I like, increasing the scope of new music that I can enjoy (and therefore increasing the market that musicians can access worldwide without leaving their home/studio/town). Where else can I choose to listen to music that someone has recommended to me? They can lend me the CD, or burn me a copy (no revenue for artist), I can go to myspace, which tends to be poor quality and doesn’t work on my Android browser very well, as well as being nowhere near as good a media player as Spotify. With Spotify I can quickly add any album as a playlist using the Android app, then listen to it when I am next sat at my PC. Any tracks that I like I simpy star and then I’ve easily got a playlist of new music that I like. If I like this new artist recommended to me I’ll listen to it more often on Spotify and my friends will see that I am listening to it online, creating much more exposure than just the people who will hear it at home or in my car when I listen to it. The notifications actuall hang around after I’ve listened to a track, so the exposure is many times the length of the track itself.

    If you make good music then Spotify gives you access to a massive market at your fingertips. You need to be business wise or have a good manager to make money from your craft, in any trade. If you have sold the rights to your music to a label in the hope they will do the best for you then good luck. Personally I think the days are coming to an end where we need to sell our precious creations to corporations in exchange for the hope of success.

    And finally why do some musicians think they’re hard done by because they don’t know whether they’ll make money or even cover costs when they produce an album or go on tour? This is the reality for every person who chooses to work for themselves; in any trade income is never guaranteed, but those with a good product/service and business sense will generally be successful.