What Music Streaming Means For Artists And How To Make Then Beneficial For You

Within the last year we’ve seen streaming music sites skyrocket in popularity, but the question remains, are streaming sites good for artists? With large opposition from big artists like Radiohead, Adele and Atoms for Peace some would argue that streaming sites aren’t good for the sales of new artists music. Others would claim that getting your music heard is the most important in the early stages and once you build a strong fan base, you can start looking for more money for your songs. In this day and age of having everything at your finger tips instantly one thing is almost certain; streaming music sites aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. In this blog we’ll highlight some of the keys to make streaming music your best friend.
Those opposed to streaming argue that artists are being payed monumentally less for a stream than they would for a digital download. This argument is very true, however it isn’t the whole story. On average an artist or a band takes $.033 for a single $.99 download, where as with streaming an artist takes a minuscule $.005 per single streamed. The rate per stream is 5.5 times less than that of a digital download. That being said, with the delivery of music rapidly shifting so too does our philosophy on being paid for delivery of music. Here is a good example of a new way of thinking that is pro-streaming:
If you look on your iTunes playlist section, you’ll mostly likely see a playlist entitled “My Top 25 Most Played” this is a playlist compiled by iTunes of all the songs that you’ve played most on your iTunes.  When you review the list, it can be astounding how many times you’ve listened to just one single song.  However, you’ve paid a one time fee for each song that you listened to 100, 200, or even 1000+ times.  In it’s essence this is the major shift of thought behind streaming.  Currently the music industry runs on a unit based system of pay, meaning you get payed one time for one unit sold. Streaming takes a stream and allows you to be payed for each time the song or album is listened to, meaning your song would only have to be listed to 6 times by one person to already have made more than an iTunes sale, not to mention how many times a person could potentially listen to a track or album over a period of 5, 10 or 20 years.
So, why are artists being payed so little per single stream?  The painful truth is this: the record labels got to the streaming services first.  Streaming, in it’s essence, is still a very new way of getting music, but it has been in the works for a long time. Streaming sites are interested in having as much music as possible on their sites so, naturally, they went straight to major labels and cut deals that favoured labels in order to gain a large catalog of music right off the bat. That is bad news for artists looking retrospectively at their record deals because when they signed their deal, there was nothing to do with streaming yet and their already licensed songs appeared in a deal with a streaming service that they had no say in. It’s time now for artists to be asking their labels how streaming can work for them, rather than looking to the services that provide the music.  New artists about to sign a major deal: put something in place that favours you in a streaming deal. Streaming will most likely become a big part of signing a major deal as the popularity of streaming increases. Be one of the first to set an industry standard of a higher percentage of streaming profit.
My final point to make is that piracy is still very much a part of the music industry. In the last year, with digital sales nose-diving in almost every category due to piracy (and streaming), streaming is the most legitimate way of getting music legally distributed. If you’re against streaming as an artist, chances are your album will be pirated because no one is looking to buy albums anymore.
The grand hope of streaming is that one day it will account for the vast majority of music distribution and likewise, artists will get paid higher rates per stream. Is there promise of this? No. But we need to find a new way to get music heard, and streaming services seem to be the brightest future for legitimizing the music industry at this point. There are very, very few artists who make all their money on music sales alone, so use streaming as a tool to get your music out there. Make sure you find a good lawyer, make a deal that will favour your music within the streaming realm, and try to look at streaming services as a cumulative paycheck as opposed to a one time lottery win.
Posted in: Artist Advice, Artist Consulting, Indie Music Tips.