I hate this question. It’s one we’ve been trying to avoid on Grassrootsy for a while because it’s a hard one to answer and I’m kinda biased.
WHAT IS SPOTIFY
First we’re not going to blindly assume that everyone reading this post knows what Spotify is. It’s a music streaming service that sells access to music instead of ownership. In other words. An artist can pay a monthly subscription fee and have access to unlimited amounts of music. However they cannot download that music onto their technological device as if they own it.
THE BEAUTY OF SPOTIFY
The beauty of this model (for the music lover), is they can listen to literally almost anything and never have to pay for it (in the concrete sense). It’s a great place for music exploration. There’s also an ad-supported free version that users can use. It’s a Pandora-type experience where advertisement are interjected into the listening experience .
THE PROBLEM WITH SPOTIFY
To be honest, I think Spotify has developed an incredible model for the stereotypical 21st-century listener who no longer buys full albums but whose world revolves around purchasing singles and the Pandora-model of music exploration. Spotify is the solution to the idea that Rhapsody got sued for over 10+ years ago. People want to try out music but they don’t want to pay for it. And in many cases, if they try it out, they might like it enough to buy it.
But that’s also the problem – they might not ever buy it. People just aren’t buying music like they used to. If you’re on a major label, or Justin Beiber, it doesn’t hurt as much. You’re still getting millions upon millions of people listening to your song every month which equates to money being made off of those streams. But if you’re the average independent artist, those spins don’t mean much. They don’t add up.
Its hard to find trustworthy information because many of the articles we’ve found online are incredibly biased. But we’re citing The Next Web because they’ve also included a payment chart from an actual artist’s iTunes, Rhapsody, and Spotify streams. First off, here is how much you’re making from Spotify:
$0.0096 per stream
(that’s almost 1 American penny)
And here is Next Web’s supplied graphic on streams.
Like we said, if you’re Beiber or Lady Gaga, you’re getting millions of streams and (in theory) making more than you would be if you were just selling a copy of your album. But in most cases, the numbers don’t really add up for the independent artist.
As an aside, here is Spotify’s explanation on how they payout so that you have both sides of the argument.
THE CONSOLATION PRIZE
I have people ask me literally all the time if my new album is on Spotify. The answer is no. And because of that I know for a fact there are people who will never hear my album because they don’t have easy, free access to it. How do I feel about it? Well the feeling is bittersweet.
For one, I’m glad there are people who will actually go “out of their way” and listen to the album on iTunes…or better yet, my website to determine if they like it enough to buy it. And on the other hand, I know there are people who will never listen to my album simply because its level of accessibility doesn’t meet their Spotify standards. So I suppose Im missing out on the consolation prize of additional exposure and potential new fans. But I’m also deciding that this is the price I will have to pay for a business model I am not personally excited about.
Maybe that will change one day.
Joy Ike is a full-time singer-songwriter based out of Pittsburgh, PA. She is also the founder of Grassrootsy, a music marketing blog for independent artists. She believes the greatest tragedy in the world is having a talent and keeping it to yourself. You can find her at www.joyike.com or follow her via twitter: @joyike.