Streaming is becoming the main source of income for musicians – they are not happy about it

The crisis affects the earnings of those whose creativity accompanies our life, gives pleasant emotions and strength even at a very difficult time. Are big streaming platforms helping musicians cope with the complexities? What do they themselves say about payments for streams?

Photo: Dollar Gill.  Source:
Photo: Dollar Gill. Source:

Jordan’s revelations

No, not Michael, of course. It’s about Ben The Flashbulb, a US independent musician with over twenty years of career under sixteen different nicknames. On his YouTube channel, Ben shared his personal experience of earning money in his favorite business – he told how he started and how his relationship with the audience, new technologies and money is now developing.

He was born in 78th in Georgia – a state located north of Florida. Then he moved to stay with relatives in Chicago, where he lived for a long time in a poor area, but tried not to lose heart and learned to play the guitar himself. As he improved his musical skills, he released his first instrumental tracks together with a small local record company, and then collaborated with European labels.

how He speaks Ben, at the start he had a hard time – earnings were minimal. I often had to stay with friends and save up for a long time for tools and simple equipment. Even when his work attracted a serious audience, the revenues from sales on discs, records and other media were virtually negligible.

Ben’s record stores, labels, distributors, and other “contractors” were more than 95% of the album’s value, and he was just brushed off the table. Earnings didn’t change when the first major online stores like iTunes appeared. He generally had to shoot tracks from this service by court order. Ben then worked part-time on orders from TV people, and when he accumulated a sufficient amount, he bought the rights to all his tracks and decided to independently regulate the process of their distribution and sale. But he did not manage to contact representatives of the company – the store just continued to sell tracks, so he turned to lawyers for help, and only then the situation was resolved.

Photo: Zyanya BMO.  Source:
Photo: Zyanya BMO. Source:

Surprisingly while the proceedings were in progress, Ben I uploaded music to torrents trackers myself and earned more on donations than he received from cooperation with the showcase. However, a new player in the streaming service changed everything – in the early years of Spotify, the listening payout was $ 0.008. Ben gathered a decent audience and was finally able to afford a middle-class life. But now, when twenty of his albums in a year are gaining about seven million auditions, the payout is just over $ 24 thousand.

The fact is that the tariff was reduced to $ 0.003. As Jordan says when he “started to cooperate with the service, the business model was completely different, and now it is more interesting for them to build a media empire and spend one hundred million on podcasts … it seems like it looks like development at someone else’s expense“.

Quarantined Merch

A difficult epidemiological situation cut off almost all alternative ways of earning musicians. Tours, side projects, souvenir in fact, at once are a thing of the past. Delays on the side of postal services and the explainable decline in audience interest in such purchases did their job – streaming became practically the only stable source of income. But as the example of a generally successful indie composer, whose story we examined above, shows, the payouts do not beat the costs of self-recording albums.

Photo: Moses Vega.  Source:
Photo: Moses Vega. Source:

Most of the musicians are likely won’t pull and up to half of what Ben gets. They will be forced to search again options for a part-time job, and then invest part of the income in promotion. Jordan himself is in no hurry to refuse orders from companies.

He understands that you can’t blame everything on streaming services… After all, this is just a business that has the right to choose a certain financial model. Nobody knows what it will be tomorrow, but for many, streaming is a good optionto attract listeners and diversify your audience. On the other hand, can we talk about the effectiveness of the discovery process in terms of the work of recommendation algorithmsbig question

What to do

There is no point in looking for the guilty and sprinkling ashes on your head. The music industry is changing – that’s a fact. Her transformation has positive and negative sides, which not everyone likes, and sometimes leads to very disastrous results in terms of the quality of the tracks.

Both themselves and their fans are able to influence the state of affairs of musicians. If this topic seems interesting, we will prepare a separate article on recommendations in this regard.

Notes and reading in our “Hi-Fi World”:

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