Music streaming services are swallowing small artists whole and something needs to change
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On December 6th 2018, our social media feeds were inundated with music lovers and artists alike sharing who they’d listened to, or how many people had listened to them on Spotify via Spotify Wrapped. Whilst Spotify’s end of year campaign is, for many, a celebration and a visual representation of their year in music, Spotify Wrapped has exposed several problems within the world of the music streaming giants. One example is the supposed bot problem which has seen randomly selected tracks enter our top listened to lists, investigated recently by Crack Magazine. The more pressing issue, however, is the royalties that artists are receiving per stream. One tweet from punk band Dream Nails summed it up rather well.
Most of us are already aware that artists don't earn a huge amount from streaming sites, particularly small acts. This was brought to a head when, in 2014, Taylor Swift removed her music from Spotify in order to take a stand against the site, who said that their average payout for a stream to labels and publishers is $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream. An infographic from Information Is Beautiful, published in 2010, suggests that artists retain just $0.001128 per stream after labels take their portion. Bigger artists who amass billions of streams are likely to do well from streaming sites; Music Business Worldwide have calculated that at a rate of $0.007 per stream, Ed Sheeran and music business rightsholders have earnt over $20.3m from Spotify. Yet, it is quite staggering to see the real, black and white figures in Dream Nails’ tweet; after 78,000 streams, they earnt just £458. The reality, for most artists that aren’t amassing billions of streams, is shocking. Streaming sites such as Spotify are unavoidably popular, though: it is where most smaller bands have established their fanbases, thanks to the site’s tailor-made discovery playlists. Furthermore, with over 40 million users a month, Spotify’s regularly updated playlists, like New Music Friday, have given huge exposure to bands that have recently started out.
Here’s our Spotify end of year report* This is the reality of music now. If you care about bands success & survival, buy their music!— DREAM NAILS (@yourdreamnails) 7 December 2018
*tweaked a little once we’d done the maths pic.twitter.com/YhOxl1sb8C
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