Indie bands – Have you been collecting royalty cheques from streaming services such as Spotify? Chances are you haven’t. You may want to take a quick look at this rather excellent blog by David McAndless from Information Is Beautiful, that shows the real truth about what it takes to actually make money on streaming services such as the much debated Spotify, Rhapsody, and Last.fm, as well as showing what it takes on iTunes, CDBaby, Amazon, DIY (do it yourself pressing and sales), and various royalty deals.
I found his data to be sobering, especially the Spotify figure. It would take 4,053,110 streams of your music per month to earn minimum wage (in the United States). Not that many indie bands are banking on Spotify being their only income, or getting 4 million plays for that matter. There has been a lot of activity in the comments section of this story and many surprising jabs and insults directed towards independent musicians and their role in the world. The “Poor Me” argument repeated itself many times. This is natural when a skill becomes this devalued.
Right now every artist in the world has the ability to distribute their music everywhere online. This is something that musicians hear over and over again from countless sources. Opportunity is waiting. The challenge is this. Very few people are going to buy music from an artist they have never heard of. If they haven’t seen you in a popular magazine, music blog, podcast, tv show or website, then there is very little psychological connection between them and your music. Since so many millions of people now record and distribute their music online, it is perceived as just that; something everyone does.
If everyone trained to become heart surgeons, you would end up with millions of out-of-work heart surgeons. Why? Because not everyone needs heart surgery! The market is over saturated to say the least, and this is predictable. It doesn’t take much training to learn a few chords. It’s not all doom and gloom though. Just be sure to take every new service and potential benefit with a few pounds of salt. Digital distribution should be part of your marketing strategy, but A LOT of effort should be focused elsewhere (licensing for film, video games, tv, advertising, article & blog writing, marketing to mp3 blogs & magazines, live shows, etc).
Definitely do it – just don’t expect to get paid for it.