Why streaming revenue is no match for live performance income

The continued engine for income and growth for recording artists continues to be live performance.  

The Music Network reported streaming payments from the streaming sites over a 2 year period and you can see the spreads per stream are quite wide at nearly 7.5 cents. Nokia pays out the most at 0.07411 per stream and Amazon trailing at 0.00012 – and that’s before deductions.

To highlight the point, music industry consultancy Music Next produced this graph to show how many streams from each main streaming service it would take earn the same from just one iTunes download.

Number of Streams to equal one iTunes download
Number of Streams to equal one iTunes download

At those prices Artists can’t consider streaming core to revenue, perhaps the glass is half full approach is to be thankful that there is some income from marketing and exposure of the music. As an aside, Pandora is absent from these figures and perhaps that’s something to do with its ongoing dispute with ASCAP in the United States.

If you think that record sales are not what they used to be, they seem positively upbeat when compared to the streaming economics. Not even the massive global artists are making much from streaming. The Guardian claims that Poker Face earned merely $167 from Spotify.

The Grateful Dead were right when they pursued a live performance strategy for creating income for the band. Creating a live experience that changes every night is still the best bet for musicians to secure a solid chunk of revenue. Even Lady Ga Ga’s shows echo this principle.

Naturally this assumes that the artist is not wrapped in a 360 deal, and that, is a different proposition entirely.

Published by Brett

Brett is an experienced lawyer and business executive who focuses on commercial outcomes. He has worked across three sectors in England & Australia advising and leading initiatives in digital, media and technology

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