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Where do you stream music? It matters to the artist.

The difference between what an artists makes from Spotify and where she makes from Apple or other platforms is significant. They care where you stream

Do you stream music?

Silly question; of course, you do, how else would you listen to music? On CD’s? I have a CD player, but I only use it when a band gives me a CD at a concert.  And I have to find it, plug it in and then hope it won’t kick the disc out, or eat it. How about you. Where is your CD player – in the car?

I know some of you have record players and love vinyl, but very few artists put out vinyl. Streaming is it if you want to listen to music.

 So now that we have established that we do stream music, which streaming service do you use? It is an important question if you care about artists.

Most of you probably use Spotify. After all, it is the largest streaming service in the world, and it has a ton of songs. According to a presentation at FIMPRO Music business conference by Spotify executives, the company receives 60,000 songs a day – and currently has 80 million songs in its library. Which is why 456 million people use Spotify and 195 of them million pay for it – they know the band they want is most likely there among the 11 million artists who are on its platform.

But you may have heard that Spotify is not a good deal for artists. An independent musician with a listener base in US who owns her own rights and masters would earn about $5200 for 1.5 million streams ($2,300 with a user base here in Mexico). Not a lot for a million and half streams. If those were CD sales, the numbers would be closer to $1 million.

 Spotify claims it pays between $.006 to $.008 per stream, but Daniel Ruby of DemandSage calculated it at between $.00318 to $.006 per stream on average. Maybe that s why, although Spotify paid out $7 billion in 2021 royalties ($ 4 billion of which went to major record labels), fewer than 60,000 of the 11 million artists on the platform received $10,000 or more. Everyone else has a day job.

According to Unsigned Advice (a site for indie artists) Apple Music pays a whopping penny per stream –  over 1.5 times more than Spotify’s best payout. And when you figure in Spotify’s complicated formula for payments to specific artists, it more like 3 times as much.

One and half million streams in Apple Music results in $15,000 in royalties to an independent band in the US, compared to the $5,200 to $9,000 from Spotify –over 3 to 6 times more.

Artists list on many platforms to reach as many listeners as possible – YouTube, deezer, Pandora, and Amazon Music as well as Apple Music and Spotify, (it’s mostly free to upload to a platform, although many musicians use a service like TuneCore to manage uploading). They want the reach of all those platforms, but what they want you to do is listen on Apple Music. It does matter to the artists…as much as 6 times as much.

Patrick O’Heffernan



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About Patrick O'Heffernan, Music Sin Fronteras (470 Articles)
Patrick O’Heffernan, PhD., is a music journalist based in Mexico, with a global following. He focuses on music in English and Spanish that combines rock and rap, blues and jazz and pop with music from Latin America, especially Mexico like cumbia, banda, son jarocho, and mariachi. He is also edits a local news website and is a subeditor of a local Spanish language newspaper. Check out his weekly column Music Sin Frontera on Sunday nights.

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