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Published on November 12th, 2012 | by Hugh Hession


Music streaming best for artist discovery, not income

The subject of music streaming has no doubt dominated the press within the past few years, with claims of how it will put the music industry back on track. And no one knows this better than the Swedish music industry who has seen a 30.1%  increase in overall music sales, with streaming accounting for 89% of all digital music sales. But what percentage of this does the music artist and/or songwriter get?

In most cases, not much.

For a distinguished, hit songwriter like Ellen Shipley, you’d think she’d be making some considerable revenue from music streaming. The 50% co-writer of Belinda Carlisle’s 80’s hit “Heaven is a Place on Earth,” received a mere $38.49 for 2.1 million YouTube streams last quarter. Her ‘N Sync track, Drive Myself Crazy only paid her $4.31 for 330,000 streams. Shipley mentions “I can’t even buy a pizza for that.”

To make matters worse, performing rights organizations don’t have agreements set in place with countries, such as Sweden. PRS out of the UK gave YouTube the rights to play music in 2009 for a lump sum payment, which is now in renegotiation. As a result, music artists and songwriters don’t get paid.

Alaina Moore, keyboardist of the indie/pop band Tennisis in the same boat. “Digital streaming sites like Rhapsody and Spotify are not yet proving to be viable financial substitutes for CDs…You’ll get a check for $100 in six months.”

“I like Spotify. But as a business, I don’t think it’s going to be profitable for an artist,” mentions Brian Klein, co-manager of Fitz and The Tantrums. “It wouldn’t even buy coffee for the whole band.”

For the majority of artists, streaming serves the purpose of creating access to your music, rather than generating any significant income.  According to Indie music artist Zoe Keating (who has sold over 45,000 copies of her self-released albums), says that artists should look at streaming as “a discovery service rather than a source of income.”

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About the Author

owns and operates Emerging Artists Entertainment Marketing & Consulting, LLC - a company devoted to cultivating aspiring music artists, He is also the head of Hession Entertainment Group, LLC (artist management) and the Music Industry Liaison for the artist discovery site, TalentWatch ( He has over 25 years experience in the music business as a performer, composer, producer and artist manager. Hugh holds a BA in Marketing and is a professional member of NARIP and a voting member of The Recording Academy. He often speaks at seminars and workshops on artist development.

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