Let’s face it. We’re incredibly coddled as music fans nowadays. We can access an infinite library of music at our fingertips for $10 a month. How convenient! But this convenience comes at a cost many music fans never think of. Unfortunately, too many musicians cannot afford to continue producing music or touring. The driving culprit of this is streaming revenue for artists.
How am I gonna recover from the lost streaming revenue with Spotify being down? That’s $0.0000006 I’ll never get back 😟
— JiV & Tonic (@JiVbeats) November 16, 2021
For an album roughly an hour long, you would need to stream the entire thing over 60 times on Spotify for the artist to receive one album sale’s worth of profit. iGroove calculated this to average $0.003 – $0.005 per per stream.
This is a baseline estimate. This doesn’t factor in listeners skipping tracks or only listening to a few songs from an album. Also, it doesn’t factor in the large percentage of an artist’s generated revenue that goes to the record label, agent, and manager.
These figures change based on the streaming service and country, but Spotify continues to dominate the market, so we’ll refer to figures based on data from Spotify.
For more prominent artists who generate millions of streams monthly and sell out arena tours, this is a non-issue. But for smaller artists, it’s a living hell. It forces artists to seek full-time touring to provide for themselves, but that has its own host of issues. As the stigma around mental health slowly but surely erodes, more artists are canceling shows and tours for mental health reasons. Most notably in the electronic music space, Skrillex recently opened up about his recent mental health struggles and how being on the road exacerbated the issues.
Had the toughest year of my life in 22, as did so many others. I literally found myself with no drive and purpose for the first time in my life
— Skrillex (@Skrillex) January 16, 2023
Buying More Music
So how does this relate to buying more music as a consumer?
When you support an artist by purchasing music, you incentivize them to continue making the music you enjoy, instead of placing themselves in a creative box. It also helps the artist be less reliant on income from streaming and touring. We’ve seen variations on this model recently as well. For example, many artists now offer Bandcamp or Patreon subscriptions that give fans and other industry professionals access to exclusive releases, sample packs, production tutorials, and any other content the artist wishes to include. This is a much more sustainable model than relying on streaming revenue and touring.
Hell yeah Chee I say we artists all collectively (esp now that we’re not making money on shows) take the power out of Spotify /Apple Music’s hands &put money back into the artists pockets by doing more exclusive purchase-music-file-on-bandcamp methods. Better audio quality too🔥 https://t.co/bAG6AAewRy
— Freddy Todd (@freddytoddmusic) May 1, 2020
Another benefit of purchasing music on Bandcamp is the premium audio quality. All tracks uploaded to digital streaming platforms are compressed. However, Bandcamp only lets artists upload in lossless formats. This preserves a track’s highest-quality audio and is the best way to listen to music.
Bandcamp makes this even more beneficial for artists with Bandcamp Fridays. Once a month, Bandcamp will waive their own revenue share of all purchases made that day, meaning artists get an even larger cut of your purchase. I’ll usually add several releases to my Wishlist, then scoop them all up on Bandcamp Friday. The astutely-named isitbandcampfriday.com will always tell you about upcoming Bandcamp Fridays.
Another way to purchase music is vinyl. Vinyl has made a huge comeback and makes incredible collectibles or gifts. In addition, vinyl releases will often come with a digital download of the album, making a vinyl purchase an even better value.
We don’t need to break the bank by purchasing music and giving up our streaming services. But, when an album or EP comes out that you really enjoy, think about showing the artist a little extra love and head over to their Bandcamp page. You and the artist will be better off because of it.
What’s the most recent album you’ve bought? Let us know in the comments or on social media!