After my thoughts on supporting independent artists/creators yesterday I was doing more thinking about how to best support musicians in 2018 and beyond. The clear fact is Spotify and streaming formats do not pay artists.
Right there especially in the second post we can see just how low the royalties are for an average or new band with a small catalogue of songs. Looking at the info graphic on the second article you can see if a band relied on Spotify alone it would take 180,000 streams a month to make minimum wage for one person. So a four member band is going to need 720,000 just to get by.
That said no band is counting on just Spotify so using a single service is not the answer. Even a band without a proper label is going to be on BandCamp, Spotify, iTunes and as many as they can feasibly publish on.
So why are small labels even using Spotify if the pay is so measly. Why not stick to a sales service like BandCamp or just iTunes? The clear answer is exposure. I’ll admit my family uses Spotify and after attending a concert about a month ago I’ve gone big into a few small punk labels and I might not have been so eager to check them out if I had to front $10-12 for an album. Discovery Playlists and the ability to stream anything makes finding your next favorite band so easy. If it cost $7 on BandCamp I might have cut back on how many songs I’ve listened to.
The question is where do we get from “I’ve found this new awesome band and streamed the album every day for a week making the band maybe 75 cents” to the opposite end of “I bought this album right from the band for a profit of $12.00 to them.” Do I have to adore a band after listening to them for a week to find a way to financially support them more than the Spotify cut. As a father getting out to shows isn’t as easy as it once was, so what else can I do besides going to a show and buying merch? Should we buy LP/digital even though we have access with a streaming service?
With Apple in the game now there is no chance prices go up, so Spotify isn’t going to solve this problem and with competition it’s unlikely subscriber growth will grow as fast, which will stagnate payouts to artists. It’s clear Spotify/Apple Music have replaced the radio as the primary form of music discovery, but it’s also stolen from music sales.
I don’t have an answer how we solve this issue, but I’m going to try my best to support bands I like any way I can. That could be with money by buying albums, merch and going to shows. It could also be simply by tweeting or posting the release of a new record, mentioning them to my friends when we hang out or even with stickers/clothing. It might not be a lot, but to someone trying to get a start in music it might be enough.