Recently there has been a movement of sorts of independent musicians posting what they are getting paid on certain streaming services. There's been stories of people making $.23 cents for 10,000 streams on Spotify or making more money selling one shirt than they did having a song stream over a million times or even making $50 on a song that's gone platinum and has had major radio airplay.
The main theme in all of these stories is that each time the artist feels like they are getting ripped off.
But are they?
In a dream world built by false label promises and musicians with ideas of riding down Main Street in a Big Body Benz or Bentley, the music industry isn't what it used to be and musicians need to understand that.
I know it sucks to get fractions of a penny for each stream. I know that you work hard to try and bring this music - your art to the scene and you want it to be heard and you want to get compensated for it. I know you dream of being on the road the whole year and playing shows in places you've never been to but you can't afford it if you're not making enough money to pay for gas and lodging.
Everyone knows it. It's hard to be a musician, period. That's why so few survive.
It is unfair for artists - especially developing artists, to blame their lack of funds on streaming services.
First, the goal of these streaming sites it to introduce people to new music. That might sound contradictory since the #1 artists on these sites are usually the Justin Biebers and Katy Perry's of the world however they know that people will listen to them no matter what service they are using.
What these services want to be seen as is champions of new music. They want you to tell your friends that you heard about a new band based on a recommendation from them.
Secondly, the only way these services can feature you is if you make a name for yourself. Anyone can get on Spotify, Rhapsody, Muve Music, etc. but the key is to make your own story. This is something that would seem obvious to most people but there are some musicians out there who believe that if you are on Muve Music, Spotify or Rdio that you'll instantly start making money because somehow people will magically find you and fall in love with your band.
The reality is that, one of the main things remaining from the old music industry is the saying, "No one can promote you as well as yourself." Create a story and the plays will come.
Lastly, the music industry is an ever-evolving industry so you have to be open to new services and new ideas. People are no longer buying CDs or running into the record store every Tuesday to get the new releases. You have to keep up with the industry and go with where the tide is going. The pay might not be there but neither will you if you don't adapt.
Artists have to understand that getting your music out should be the first goal. The pay should be secondary. If you perfect your music and your art, then the pay will come. It takes time and a realistic view of how the world works. I heard this saying once and it's echoed with me forever: "Do what you love for free then fool someone into paying you to do it.."
Don't be mad at getting paid $.23 cents for 10,000 plays. That's 10,00 times someone has heard your song and your voice. Rejoice in that and give those ten thousand people more music to listen to and enjoy.