Show Me the Money : Digital Streaming

Show Me the Money!

Today, we’re talking about streaming, and the reform it desperately needs. . Love it, or hate it , this is the industry we are in currently.   

With streaming still on the rise, us as artists are having to learn to adapt. 

Not nearly as many albums sold (physical or digital) once the online streaming era began in 1999. This left record labels and artists alike, scrambling to recoop their lost revenue.

2000 : 730 Million          2008 : 363 Million             2015 : 125 Million Records Sold 


In 2017 Streaming services generated more than 50% of the entire U.S. Music industry revenue. 




This chart doesn’t include the FREE accounts that generate revenue for the industry on these streaming platforms.


Now the not so fun part. We all know our payout on the major streaming platforms are next to none, so we sat down to do the math of just how shitty it actually is… you’re welcome. 


So, as of right now there is no set amount these services have to payout. If you’re Taylor Swift, you get to have your label hound them for money. If you’re the other 99% of musicians, it is a complete grab-bag. We took the averages of the payouts, and this is what we found. 


The annual salary of someone working minimum wage in the US averages out to about $15,132. 



This is for an UNSIGNED artist that acts as their own publisher and label. If you have a publisher and a label, divide that by 3. Sucks don’t it? 


Now, a lot of you will listen or look at these numbers, and your first reaction will be to pour all your energy into those platforms that are paying out the most, but wait.  You’ve got to take a minute and look at the amount of subscribers/users that are actually on those platforms. 

This last year, a lot of these streaming services have either bought each other out, or have disconnected service, but here is an average of users. So, some of these may pay out better than others per stream, but there aren’t enough users to generate the streams to make you that extra money.





Spotify : 

  • This is unfortunately the king of the streaming market, and happens to pay one of the worst.   
  • In 2016,  65% of all music streamed in the US was done so on Spotify. 
  • That same year it was brought in 70% of all Streaming Revenue. 


Youtube/Google Play : 

  • Google Play Music, and Youtube Red have merged into Youtube Music 
  • Before merging in May of 2018, they never updated the amount of users on the individual platforms, let alone distinguishing the premium members. 
  • It remains one of the top dogs for streaming music 
  • The lowest payout for artists 

Amazon : 

  • Very selective on what data they release to the public. 
  • Everyone with a PRIME account has access to Prime Music, but they also offer a Unlimited Music Platform for an additional monthly fee. They choose not to comment on the number of users. 
  • That being said, in the consumer market for streaming, Amazon has less than 2%.. Yikes. 

Tidal : 

  • Since Jay-Z took over in 2015, the numbers have seemingly been skewed. 
  • A year after taking over, claimed it had reached 1 Million users, but the parent company reportedly only had paperwork for 350K. 
  • This happened again when he announced he reached 3 Million, with paperwork stating only having 1 Million. 
  • It’s Jay-Z. Who knows. 
  • But the company is now valued at $300 Million… maybe. 
  • You hear about this company alot, and it is solely because of Yeezy. Their reach in the market is .5 % .... 
  • The payout is good, but you’ve got .5 % of the streaming market, I don’t like those odds. 


Sites like SoundCloud, ReverbNation, and BandCamp pay artists NOTHING. The only revenue is the digital downloads or merch. You sell on your own. 

SoundCloud has introduced three tier options : Partner, Pro, Premier. Premier allows the ads to its free and paid options, which will make it possible for uploaders to make money from the tracks they share. Seemingly similar to the YouTube AD model… so not great.   

BUT the sponsors pay the artists, the site does not.  I don’t see it lucrative to spend anytime on those sites if they’re not paying out. You can sell merch from your website, and that needs your attention more than a third party. 


Music Modernization Act 


Summary of the bill

The complete bill

Sign the petition

Leave a comment

Add comment