I've written this article to post on producer/engineer forums. I'm assuming
there are plenty of people like myself, independent musicians who produce their
own music and hope to make money doing so. The point of this is that there has
to be a change in the music industry, or we never will.
First I want to say that musicans aren't really in competition with one another
for listeners. Myself for instance, I'm a fan of and have bought music from
probably upper hundreds or more than a thousand musicians. I love Motorhead
and I love Fetty Wap, they're not mutually exclusive. So it's not other
musicians and producers who are a barrier to you making money, not at all.
Secondly the idea that a musician shouldn't be compensated for their work, is
wrong. Music is great. It's addictive, like a drug. It helps people
emotionally, which is invaluable. It's the freaking soundtrack of life, without
it, movies would be boring, dancing would be dumb, and the news wouldn't be as
terrifying. Just think about it.
Why is it so hard to sell music. It's not, in this day and age it is very easy
to make money from music. The problem is other people are using your music to
make money, you're not getting paid because you've basically paid them to take
it for free.
If you're a recording musician, not affiliated with a label, you have a few
options to sell music in the market or the internet, excluding traditional set
up shop and sell shit from a table. Those options are pay to distribute, like
cd baby, or tunecore etc. Those companies take your money to sell or give away
your music, on large platforms like spotify, itunes and a host of other sites.
The platforms, not only sell your music but also sell ads. The reason that you can
make money from your music online, is because your music is considered "content",
so is this forum. Let's take this forum as an example, it's free to come here
and write down whatever you're thinking, that might be bullshit, but it might be
extremely valuable information. If you look to the right or left there are targeted
ads, targeted to people like you who make music. The company who sells
whatever product is in this ad, pays this site each time you click on the ad or view
the page, depending. So each time you do, the site makes 25 cents est.
If you've ever started a thread in a forum you've created a whole page of content,
that in turn makes them money 24 hours a day. If you're thinking you should
make a website and create content in order to place ads and make money,
you will have gone the way of many other musicians, good luck.
Music is even better content. So imagine you've created music, you've mastered
your instruments, you've read all the manuals and bought thousands of dollars
worth of equipment and learned to use it and now you're album is done and
you're going to try to sell it. You need exposure. If you can't tour for some
reason, like you have a job, and need to eat or some lousy excuse like that
(just kidding), your avenue for exposure and profit is the internet. The
problem with music is that the music is the ad for the music. So you have to
let people listen to it in order for them to decide if they want to buy it. So
if it were just that simple it would be great and this is why touring is so
effective if you want to do that.
So exposure services like spotify and pandora, in one sense are great because
musicians and listeners are united in a blissful uncomplicated relationship.
On the other hand, those companies eliminate any reason to buy music, ever.
So right now I'm looking at spotify, and it is wonderful. I never need to go
anywhere else to listen to music, ever. If someone's not on spotify I will
never know, because I am so entertained by this.
If I listen to the artist Travi$ Scott for instance on Spotify, and I love him
so much I listen to him 10 times a day, he earns .022 cents a day. If I'd
listened to him on pandora or iheart radio accidentally at that same rate he'd
make .017 cents. This is because on sites that allow you to choose which songs
you listened to the company has to pay .0022 cents per listen, and for sites
that play like the radio they pay .0017 cents per listen. The copyright royalty
board or CPB sets royalty rates, these are the minimum rates for webcasting
music, and this is stuck for the next four years.
So for every dollar that's made by an artist on Pandora, iHeart radio, Jango,
or Slacker their song has been played by me 588.23 times, if the song was three
minutes. For Spotify, a dollar is made by getting played 454.54 times. Some of
these rates are different I know, for musicians who have the clout I guess to
get paid more, or a lawyer.
There are sites that sell songs, and those sites pay pretty reasonably,
sometimes, I think itunes sells at .67 cents a song or that's what you get
after the distributor takes their cut. That's pretty reasonable, because you're
selling to one person who will listen as many times as they want and that's
great. But why would I ever buy music at all if my radio is my computer and my
cell phone is my portable and car radio, and it's all free? I won't.
After Taylor Swift's exit from Spotify their listenership increased by 2.5
Let's look at from the other side. Advertisers are thrilled with pandora and
Spotify because they provide rich engaging content at an affordable price. And
new streaming services are arising, Amazon etc. Pandora typically shows seven
display ads per listener hour and runs 2.5 audio ads (of 15- or 30 seconds) per
hour. Users might also see a video ad. Visual ads, on a CPM (cost per thousand
impressions)basis, sell for $5-$7; audio ads, $8-$12; and video ads, $15-$25.
Spotify I couldn't find the exact math, they charge about 10-30 dollars per
thousand impressions and take in about 150,000 dollars an hour in ad revenue
So to be fair, let's look at a typical hour on pandora as $.08 per listener,
pretty generous. (Thats a median amount for each ad area divided by a thousand
(CPM) added together) That means that for every dollar you make as a musician
Pandora makes 47.05 dollars.
What is Pandora really? Its a website, that took a lot of work by programmers
and marketers, it's a rainbow really, that occupies 5 floors of a skyscraper.
A beautiful idea, about liberating music and a free wonderful listening
experience for consumers combined with low cost advertising. I mean it does not
get any better than that. And Spotify, those Sweeds are fing geniuses, they're
even ripping off the advertisers, but that's for another article.
The fact is the product that they are selling to consumers is your music. Your
music makes up the backbone of an entire multibillion dollar streaming industry
that you humbly pay someone to allow you to be part of.
What I'm getting at here is that musicians have a low self valuation. Much
lower than they should. Not that we should become dicks and make popular music
any meaner than it already is, I'm not advocating that. But the idea that some
of these services are offering us a handout, or 'giving' musicians something is
not true. What's actually happening is that musicians are giving them
something, and they, are selling it again for billions of dollars.
The only way to capture the attention of the services outside of yelling about
it is if their catalog was diminished significantly enough and people just
began to go elsewhere, because they would. If enough musicians pulled their
catalog's spotify and pandora wouldn't have anything to sell, and they would
have to consider their payment practices or their services would go away. On
top of that pirating is actually getting harder and harder because the internet
is getting more and more regulated, so if the industry reverted to the sale of
mp3s or wavs, this time that might work, not that it should revert, I don't
Anyways, that's all I have to say about that, best of luck