Artists make pittance on streaming services

According to some artists, they're making less than one cent for every play on iTunes Match or Spotify.

(Credit: Spotify)

Music-streaming services are big business for labels, and even the companies that offer them. But for artists, they're not so great.

Josh Davison, a member of the band Parks and Gardens, yesterday took to Twitter to divulge the exceedingly small amount he and his fellow musicians make from streaming on iTunes Match and Spotify. According to Davison, each time one of his songs streams on iTunes Match, the band makes US$0.00330526797710. When that same song plays on Spotify, the band makes US$0.00966947678815. In other words, if Davison wants to make just one cent off a song play, it'll need to be streamed three times.

Web developer Scott Buscemi also shared information on Twitter, revealing that none of the popular streaming services available today, including iTunes Match, Rhapsody or Spotify, deliver a single cent per song play.

The Next Web was first to report on the revelations.

It's certainly no secret that artists are not pleased with the revenue they generate from digital music. For years, some bands and individual artists have complained of their cut of the sales, going as far as banning their music from being included in iTunes. More recently, artists have taken aim at streaming services.

Last October, Coldplay, one of the world's biggest music acts, decided that it would not offer its then-new album "Mylo Xyloto" on Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody and others. Adele, Tom Waits and Paul McCartney have also taken issue with streaming services in the past.

Still, subscription-based streaming services are generating big cash. According to data released earlier this year by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), subscription music services saw revenue rise 13.5 per cent in 2011 to US$241 million. The number of paying customers jumped 18 per cent. Single purchases and full album downloads both hit over US$1 billion in revenue last year.

CNET has contacted both Apple and Spotify for comment on the revenue information. We will update this story when we have more information.


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busyp1 posted a comment   

out of curiosity, it says that artists receive money for when they're songs are streamed on iTunes match, but aren't the songs you stream on iTunes match ones that you have already purchased either on CD or through the iTunes store? i.e. they're getting more money than if someone simply went out and bought a CD?

I have iTunes match and i haven't seen an option that allows you to stream any song on iTunes...In which case is there and I'm missing out? (only purchased it to link all the computer in my house so that they have the same library without any input on my behalf)


Clarkinator posted a comment   

How often is a song played every minute though through literally thousands of users? Many popular artists can make a fortune off services like this. It's also better for them financially than someone pirating their music.


Chandler posted a reply   

Exactly. Artists may complain about not making much off streaming services, but its better than them not getting anything.

It'd be interesting to see the full stats - what the Service gets per play, what the Label receives, etc, etc until you get to the source - not that I think those will ever come to light.

I use Spotify, and I think it's great for consumers.

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