German legend Dune explains streaming services’ pay struggle

Streaming services have come to dominate the music industry in the digital age. Yet, many artists, such as Dune, aren’t seeing the revenue they expected.

Many new artists hope to use the platforms to attract attention and bring in revenue for projects through streaming. Dune explains, on average, streaming services pay $0.0075 per stream in 2023. When you look at specific streaming services, it only gets worse. In 2023, Insider conducted an investigation into streaming royalties for artists. What they found was shocking,

“Insider found that Spotify has paid artists as little as $.0033 per stream, with other sites reporting upwards of $.0054. Translated, you’ll need about 250 streams to earn a dollar.”

On average, this means that an individual artist must garner, on the low end of streaming revenue, roughly 12,000,000 streams to create a livable wage in the US in 2023. This is based on the living wage calculator by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a 0-child household. Given Spotify’s new Loud and Clear site, it can be seen that of the 50,000 top artists on Spotify in 2022, 27,000 established artists each generated an average of $224,000 in revenue. Given Spotify’s 0.0033 low-end stream rate for revenue, each established artist had to generate nearly 68,000,000 streams. Such numbers are ludicrous for artists starting to develop their music career, independent artists, or artists who aren’t releasing music on a rapid basis. Especially paired with the fact that in 2022, 38,000,000 songs on streaming services received 0 plays. While streaming services pay low stream rates, more conventional forms of music are giving artists more fair revenue. Services such as Bandcamp, which sells music based around Itunes’ old model of selling music rather than streaming, share an 85/15 split with the artists. With an average of €1.50 ($1.65 USD), that’s an average of $1.64 gain over Spotify per song. In order for Spotify streaming to do better for an artist per listener, each listener must stream a Spotify song 500 times. This is not an easy feat to accomplish for the listeners hoping to support their favorite artists.

Even more traditional forms of media, such as CD and vinyl sales are a more profitable venture for artists. With each pressing netting an artist $0.091 per CD for a gain of 5.8 cents per CD pressing over streaming, and that’s without the sale of the CD itself. This means that the artist isn’t limited by how many CDs are purchased. Once the purchase of media is brought in, they gain another 10% royalties in sales on average.

In the digital age, streaming services are the easiest way for fans to access music, but it’s not the best way to support your favorite artists. Consider this the next time you think of how you should access your favorite artists’ music and help out artists such as Dune by accessing Bandcamp or purchasing a record!

Image Credit: DUNE (Facebook)