“Everybody’s talkin’ at me. I don’t hear a word they’re saying.” Harry might’ve been on to something there. We keep hearing the same, tired stories about online streaming services: there’s no money for artists! Or, when bloggers get tired of that, they’ll say “the labels are getting all the money!”
It’s impossible to say whether or not that’s totally true. Here’s why.
Presence on any platform (even MySpace!) has the potential to convert music lovers into fans. So the pennies you’re getting from Spotify (assuming you’ve found a way to get there and people are listening) could lead to a bigger return down the road. Think of it this way – you may not get much money for having your song played on the radio. But those spins lead to people hearing about you, coming to your shows, and buying your merch. Isn’t this better than random people posting your tracks without getting any promotion or payment?
Look at it this way: Radio = Spotify. Or rather, a better, cooler, more personalized radio. It’s the flashpoint for discovery and the ignition to the sales vehicle. I’m yet to hear of any artist complaining about getting radio play. Unless you’re the songwriter, you don’t get ANY money for radio spins. Sure, if you’re signed to a label, they might be taking the lion share of your payout. By the way, here’s a peak at how your friends at ASCAP calculate payments and another from the folks at SoundExchange. Confused yet?
Another example: I’m wasting time/working productively on Facebook, and this pops up on my feed…
I’m thinking, hmm … that looks interesting … I’ll take a listen. And I did. And it was cool. The best part is, unlike radio, I don’t have to wait ’til it’s played again. I click and listen. Boom! And sure, Mr. Mutemath makes a penny from my efforts. If I heard him on the radio (ok, not too likely…), he doesn’t get that penny.
Leverage Spotify for what it is (a massive promotional tool), and musicians will benefit. It’ll take some time, creativity, and work … but it can be done! Just stand there with your hand out, and you’re not gonna get too far.