Music streaming: How do artists make money from streaming?

Digital streaming revenue may have majorly revived the music industry after the awkward R.I.P a.k.a rip CD situation and emergence of peer-to-peer file sharing, but if you’re an independent artist yet to surf the mainstream pipeline, digital streaming means something completely different.

We thought we’d get some firsthand street perspective from Romanie, our solo songbird, delicate songwriter, and Muso content moderator to see how streaming plays a part in her music journey as an indie artist.

It takes a lot to make a dollar.

Streaming doesn’t equal currency unless you can coast on your acclaim, It takes a few hundred stream counts to earn a dollar on Spotify, which was one of the first prominent names in digital stream membership sites, with only $0.004 per stream to share amongst you, your collaborators, record label or distributors.

Romanie: My main audience uses Spotify and I admit that I hate it and love it at the same time. I know I won’t be making huge money because you earn between $0.00331 and $0.00437 (which is horrendous if you look at it like that) per stream, but it’s still the mainly used streaming platform so gives me the most direct audience access to my songs.

The major players in streaming site won’t give you equal play count potential

Though Youtube gives you access to the most song play potential it compensates the least with $0.0006 per stream, with Apple music sitting at $0.007, and Napster ironically comes in as the most generous with $0.019 per stream, though ironically, has the least song play usage.

You’ll definitely end up going through a distributor as they’ll have access to the major streaming markets.

Sites like Ditto, Tunecore, CD Baby and Distrokid are the most popular but you’ll have to do your homework if you need distribution for Juno or Beatport for example because some sites have a more indie following while others factor in an electronic music market as well as social media sites like TikTok.

Which distribution sites have you used for your digital streaming?

Romanie: I released my first EP through Distrokid, which is one of the main independent music distributors. A Lot of people in Europe and America use Distrokid and they distributed my album to the main channels. Through one click my EP was on the key players such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, YouTube, Deezer, iTunes, TikTok (yep), IG.

Have they been similarly beneficial?

Romanie: I think each streaming platform has its advantages and the lesser known tools can be very beneficial. I had my music uploaded to Shazam and when my song was played on the national radio in Belgium, I saw that a lot of people had shazamed it, which is great for promotion.

How much of your royalties come to you at the end of the day?

Romanie: This depends on your music distributors. Some will take commission on your song if they have helped you pitch your song to playlists etc, some like Distrokid let you keep all the streaming incomes. That is, minus the paypal fee to withdraw your money.

As an emerging artist, streaming services play a major role as a promotional feature for getting your music out into the world. It’s like the correlation of social media for showing you’re an artist making a profitable income.

Romanie: I feel like you are a ‘proper’ musician once you have your music up on Spotify. It’s like your professional business card to mention to venues ‘Hey, you can check me out on Spotify’. For a lot of artists, physical cds and vinyls are not really a thing anymore because it’s super expensive – so streaming has become the main way for them to distribute their music.

How much does digital streaming play a part in your music income strategy?

Romanie: At the moment (unless there would be a miracle Spotify playlist landing), I don’t really see digital streaming as an income stream for my music project. It’s more so as a promotional platform to reach a new audience and have my music reach all parts of the world. It’s really cool to see your music being streamed in countries that you haven’t even visited yet!

Since there’s a lot of competition with streaming benefits, do you think it could become profitable one day?

Romanie: I do believe it’s a little sad that (emerging) musicians need to look at streaming platforms as a purely promotional tool because streaming brings so little money back to the artist. There are a heap of petitions going around to change this and I hope the tide will turn around soon so musicians can be paid better through streaming.

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