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Killed_by_Death

Artists & their income

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Some artists have complained about the paltry sums they're getting from Spotify or other Music streaming services.

The other night I was watching this unfold on FB. A 'fan' was upset that Chevelle urged folks to buy specifically from their store:

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May be an image of text

 

It's sad, & I'm sure true.

 

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There is a major gap between the top and the rest now, and I don’t think people really appreciate it. It is strange, what other industries give away products so freely.

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I'm with @Lozz196 on this. Having a few albums on Spotify myself, they generate very little. Even Gary Numan recently said 1,000,000 plays earnt him £33 recently - and we're not even 10% of that! 

When I was a kid I didn't think about it but I guess I thought if you were "famous" you had loads of money. I've played with loads of pro names and unless you are doing really well (Stones, U2 etc) chances are you have a second job. Most signed rubbish contracts when they were young and got ripped off badly because they were naïve. As the other recent thread said, I think we're lucky we're mostly semi-pro here as my annual income through music wouldn't cover the bills. Even up a few levels and it's not much better.

Fans should buy direct from artists, otherwise the industry really is going to die out. When we tour we really depend on sales to keep the band on the road, and again the bigger bands we support are so often the same. 

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Not name-dropping or bragging, because I'm sure many here are closer to the Music industry than I, but of the few people I know that have been in Music, none of them became wealthy.

I'm thinking of people who had been on-stage with large acts like Lita Ford or W.A.S.P., later-on they're sleeping on their brother's sofa or summat.

 

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Wow, that really is a depressing read.. 

Imagine if software developers, architects or lawyers, for example, were expected to give away their work for a pittance, or for nothing.. 

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It's pretty poor that their work is virtually given away by Spotify. It's easy to see how bad it is, when I was a teenager in the 90's if I wanted to listen to my favourite band I had to go to HMV and but the album for £12 and Id buy a couple a week. Now I can pay £10 a month for unlimited access to millions of songs. 

I still like buying a physical copy of records but I'm very much in the minority. 

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The trouble is the supply to the labels is limitless, if they can't make money on X, they will spit them out & continue on with Y, ad nauseam.

I'm reminded of what happened to the expat job-market in Thailand.

In the 80s & 90s it was lucrative, & not that many expats were around. Over time more & more expat-oriented businesses opened & the word got back to the mainland that there's jobs here & the money is good.

Folks arrived to work, & after getting that first job they got offered LESS to STAY. They think it over & realize the weather is better than back in Blighty, & so is the cost-of-living.

This goes on & on until even the native-English speaking teachers are taking pay-cuts, because local Asians are undercutting the salaries.

 

I realize the artists don't really have a choice, when they're given a contract they just sign it, because hey it's better than not being signed, or is it?

 

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Posted (edited)

Interesting article on R4 earlier about streaming, trading of music as product and investment (see The Price of Song - BBC Sounds).

Thoughtful, sensible comments from Abba's Björn Ulvaeus, and others including Paul McCartney.

Björn: "I want my money to go to the people whose recordings I play; but at the moment most of it goes to the mega-artists who have billions of clicks".
"But you're one of those mega-artists!".
"Yes, but it's completely unfair".
 
Agreed, Bjorn
Edited by Dan Dare
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That kind of thing reminds me of the Metal Sludge interview with Jason Ward, bassist from Flotsam & Jetsam who were on MCA for a few albums, as well as a few independent label releases. They sold a decent amount of albums in their day and toured regularly. This bit was an eye opener to me, twenty years ago.

What do you do to pay the bills?
"We all do many things, I am a computer tech by trade and have done tech support for the last few years. The rest of the guys work day jobs as well as other musical ventures. I used to worry about people knowing, now its more like “who the flip are you kidding.”

http://metalsludge.tv/classic/?p=28283

Jim Sheppard and Warrell Dane worked as chefs even when Nevermore were doing well. The myth of the full-time professional in original music was, and still is, greatly exaggerated.

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I’ve always said music is a great hobby but a rotten way of earning a living. In my time I’ve played with a few that have gone on to good things - Jamie Callum comes to mind among others.  And I’ve played with superb professional musicians who, even before Covid, were scratching a living, eking it out with teaching. You’ve got to be really committed to teaching: a lot of it must be quite dispiriting.

I really admire anyone who is a full time professional.

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it is a sad state of affairs. it really hits home when you see bands you have idolised for 20+ years carting their own stuff in and doing everything themselves

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Posted (edited)

The problem is not Spotify. It's the fact that the record labels take a massive proportion of the royalties that a Spotify play produces, and they sold the streaming rights for (relatively) next to nothing.

Looking at what my songs earn from a Spotify play, if I had 1,000,000 streams I'd be doing quite nicely. Not enough to give up the day job, but certainly enough to finance the next round of recordings and videos for one of my bands - in other words a great deal more than £33. That's because I haven't signed a crap deal with a rip-off record company.

On the other hand I don't have a 1,000,000 streams because very few people have heard of either of the bands I play with, so if a record label came along and could guarantee getting my music the sort of publicity that would generate millions of streams I might at least take a second look at that deal.

The other problem is that streaming doesn't really pay anyone. None of the major players actually make any money off providing streaming services, even when they are paying peanuts for the privilege. They are either being propped up by the profitable parts of their parent companies, or gullible investors who still haven't seen any return on what they have put in. SoundCloud did manage to turn a profit for a while but that's because they weren't paying any royalties at all! Since that was discovered they have been in financial difficulties.

Edited by BigRedX
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yep, its crap,

this whole subject presses more buttons than i can cope with......

 i work my tits off getting a studio together good enough to release good quality tracks, the hours involved getting them tracks together would scare people, the amount of years spent learning all the instruments played on them tracks, for what ? for others to earn money for all my hard work makes my blood boil.

i put a post up a while ago saying "allot of times its our own fault for giving it away for nothing, i see people putting whole tracks on youtube, WHY, FFS all you have to do it put part of the track on youtube with a link to your site where if people like it they can pay for the down load, easy"

so then i got into an argument with one guy saying " if we did not give it away for nothing, our songs would not get played at all "

And thats what we are all up against !

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That goes back to my point above, as long as there are artists willing to give it away, things will remain the same or worse.

 

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Posted (edited)

In years gone by, there were no recordings at all. Musicians could only earn by playing, 'live', or getting their sheet music sold. All this 'music business' is a very recent thing; the first musician 'millionaires just got lucky. Earning a living from one's music has always been a risky vocation; modern technology has distorted the vision of this reality. Ignore the recording side of things and play to real people; that's how it really works. If one is good enough to attract enough of an audience, it'll pay. If not, keep the day job. It may be sad, and harsh, but that's the nub of it.
Or set up a personal distribution system, world-wide, and see how much profit there is to be made from selling music.

Edited by Dad3353
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I see a lot of artists, at a reasonably high level (Mike Scott of the Waterboys, KT Tunstall, Gayle Ann Dorsey), setting up accounts on Patreon in order to make ends meet. These days their income is mainly from live gigging and merchandise.

This is an article about the lowest selling No 1 album in the US , which got to No1 after selling only 823 copies (CDs and downloads).

https://www.officialcharts.com/chart-news/us-rapper-a-boogie-wit-da-hoodie-sets-record-for-lowest-ever-selling-us-number-1-album__25334/?fbclid=IwAR1jmubsoK7TXwn0OZQsIqIP0qM6ZsL5AlaoCJFu-Z-aT808SdL75_Mh6Pw

 

 

 

 

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On 02/03/2021 at 19:25, Killed_by_Death said:

I'm thinking of people who had been on-stage with large acts like Lita Ford or W.A.S.P., later-on they're sleeping on their brother's sofa or summat.

Not necessarily wasp - Chris Holmes worked in the construction industry when they weren't touring as Blackie Lawless wouldn't pay him. He said it was a pain on tour as he had to get his hands in condition to play again. And he was also married to Lita Ford!

I guess it only worked for a few people.

14 hours ago, BigRedX said:

Looking at what my songs earn from a Spotify play, if I had 1,000,000 streams I'd be doing quite nicely. Not enough to give up the day job, but certainly enough to finance the next round of recordings and videos for one of my bands - in other words a great deal more than £33. That's because I haven't signed a crap deal with a rip-off record company.

The maximum you would get for 1,000,000 streams at spotifys maximum pay out is $4366, which is just over £3000. Before tax. Yes, that is more than £33 and more enough to finance a round of recordings, but not a living, which sounds a bit crazy for those sort of numbers.

So yes, if you were getting half a million streams a month, you might be able to manage minimum wage.

 

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Interesting piece by David Hepworth on Spotify payments thought worth posting, not just for the points raised but also that it's from 2011.. 10 years on and it's the same issues and debate today. 

-----------


"Got paid £8 for 90,000 plays. F**k Spotify." That was a tweet the other day from the musician/producer Jon Hopkins. You can see how opening an envelope containing that royalty statement might catch you on the raw. Apparently an increasing number of smaller labels are removing their music from the streaming service because the revenues aren't worth it and they fear that it could have a detrimental effect on the sales of their CDs.

I'm not seeking to press Spotify's case but how big would the cheque have to be to make Jon Hopkins think it was worth persevering with them. Double? Triple? Ten times bigger? At what point does it seem about the right sum of money? Presumably at a point where Spotify decide they no longer want to deal with the Jon Hopkins of the world and will stick to Lady Gaga.

This kind of thing's happening all the time at the moment. In the days of scarce physical product prices were high and the winners could make money. Now we're in the world of digital product, frictionless communication and limitless supply even the rest of the field are achieving numbers and numbers make people think they should be earning money which is commensurate with those numbers. But it doesn't work like that. Writers are getting paid far less money (if they're getting any money at all) to have their work read by far more people on a blog than they would have got for having it read by a relatively small readership in a paid paper product.

Nobody knows anymore what the numbers signify. Presumably those 90,000 plays aren't the equivalent of 90,000 plays on a radio station big or small. (With traditional mechanical payments you get a lot more for having your song played on Radio Two than you would for having it played on a small local station.) Presumably 90,000 represents the number of times any one individual has accessed the stream on which the artist's song can be found. What's the average number of individuals it would take to generate that kind of activity? This 90,000 presumably includes a handful of people who listen to one song obsessively and a lot more people who just click once out of curiosity and never go back. It's not 90,000 fans. It's not even 90,000 listeners. It's 90,000 clicks.

If you sold 90,000 records you might expect to have done quite well. And you'd have reason to believe that you might be on your way to selling 250,000 records. You'd be some kind of a hit. If you'd had your record played just once on a radio station with 90,000 listeners you'd expect to get, well, eight pounds?

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I'm old school and still buy CD's. Only downloads i get are when i buy the CD on Amazon and i get the free album download too.

I don't use Spotify or any other streaming. 

I'm a great believer in the artists should get some of the profits from their own albums.

Some of the stories i hear are quite surprising and such a shame really.

Dave

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57 minutes ago, dmccombe7 said:

I'm old school and still buy CD's. Only downloads i get are when i buy the CD on Amazon and i get the free album download too.

I don't use Spotify or any other streaming. 

I'm a great believer in the artists should get some of the profits from their own albums.

Some of the stories i hear are quite surprising and such a shame really.

Dave

I'm the same.

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7 minutes ago, kendall said:

I'm the same.

Me too

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Posted (edited)

Here are some real world numbers just to show the bare bones of the actual situation. I don't know why people are so protective of this information, everybody should see how things really are. This is for some original music I wrote and released in 2019 and used CDbaby to publish to the streaming services which cost around $90 to do, if I recall correctly. This is all streaming activity since it was released right up to today. I hope to recoup by 2030.

Ok, 2040 😂

Granted, the style of music we play - slow stoner/doom type stuff where our shortest song is 7 minutes long - is exactly the opposite of how to play the streaming game. Ideally, songs should be as little over 30 seconds as possible to register a play, hence why so many albums now feature short songs, short skits and other filler. We're in it for the doom, not the money, though. I have had to go to 4 decimal places to make sure everything gets covered. Pay is counted in US$. To clarify, we're getting 1.05 cents per stream on SoundExchange, for example, and 1/3 of 1 cent on Spotify.

image.png.2492049895d1d0420435b5498d7370d3.png

Why would you bother, I hear you ask? Well, something is better than nothing, I suppose, but only just. People are going to post your music to youtube and the likes, "share" it on your behalf, whether you like it or not, so you might as well get paid (yes, I know) for it rather than them. That was my logic, anyway, based on it being uploaded to Youtube by several different people unassociated with us. I felt forced into it rather than waste my time finding it and having it pulled down (we did that too, a few times).

By contrast, we have around 100 digital sales on Bandcamp, priced at €3.00 and get roughly €2.33 for each sale there. If I ever come across as a Bandcamp fanboy, it's because they are, without question, the only decent digital music provider who aren't ripping artists off. Bandcamp also give you free streaming and downloads for every purchase of music you make. If anyone wants to check out the music behind the numbers, http://witheredfist.bandcamp.com is my shameless plug 😉 If you actually want to support an artist, Bandcamp or direct from the artist is the only way to do it, in my opinion.

I'd be interested to hear what people think of those numbers, is anyone surprised by them?

Edited by Doctor J
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Posted (edited)

I think one issue (among many!) is the nature of art: anyone can do it, which might be read as, if one person stops doing it for free, someone else will just come along and do it instead. I read an article many years ago that asserted that the reason musicians, artists and so on are generally paid so little is because there is no barrier to entry. The example they gave was of a surgeon: If you want to operate on hearts for a living, society better make damn sure that you know what you're doing!  People don't make the same demands of their musicians, and you certainly won't be severely punished if you practice music without a license.

Something that opened my eyes to the reality of the music industry came through friends who were acquainted with bass players who played with big name touring artists (one who played a Superbowl half-time show). When they weren't touring with these artists, they were hustling for wedding gigs, exactly the same as me.

Edited by bassist_lewis

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16 minutes ago, Doctor J said:

Here are some real world numbers just to show the bare bones of the actual situation. I don't know why people are so protective of this information, everybody should see how things really are. This is for some original music I wrote and released in 2019 and used CDbaby to publish to the streaming services which cost around $90 to do, if I recall correctly. This is all streaming activity since it was released right up to today. I hope to recoup by 2030.

Ok, 2040 😂

Granted, the style of music we play - slow stoner/doom type stuff where our shortest song is 7 minutes long - is exactly the opposite of how to play the streaming game. Ideally, songs should be as little over 30 seconds as possible to register a play, hence why so many albums now feature short songs, short skits and other filler. We're in it for the doom, not the money, though. I have had to go to 4 decimal places to make sure everything gets covered. Pay is counted in US$. To clarify, we're getting 1.05 cents per stream on SoundExchange, for example, and 1/3 of 1 cent on Spotify.

image.png.2492049895d1d0420435b5498d7370d3.png

 

Is this complete plays/streams?

 

On a tangent - What I have found with my own bandcamp is I am selling less, but (complete) plays are increasing.

Essentially people are using it as a streaming service.

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A few years ago I was chatting to the late Lee Dorsey - he had an auto crash repairers back home

which his sons ran when he was on tour 'something to fall back on, y'know' he said.

That was about 1969...........think on..........

😎

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