The facts about my streaming income and why I have a lot of respect for Lady Gaga.

I had a friend ask me the following question on Facebook and I think they were a bit shocked by my response.

The question was “If I played your music 24×7 for a month, how much would you actually get?”

And my answer was, “maybe $40 dollars“.

Well, that’s the direct answer to the question.  The full answer was this: “At an average of 0.004 cent(s) a stream, maybe $40 dollars. That is if you were to stream it on Spotify or Apple Music. For satellite radio, it would depend on the station and how often

If I figure an average of 4 minutes per song , that’s 15 songs an hour, which equates to 360 songs a day, for a total of 10,800 during a 30 day period. At 4/10 of a cent on average that’s about $43. Then of course the distributor gets its portion. So… about $40.

Now, the average that I came up with is the pooled average of the major streaming providers, such as Spotify and Apple Music.  Some pay more, some pay less, and it all depends on the duration of the play itself, along with if the consumer was a paid service consumer or using the free platform.  Overall it varies, but on average, from all the streaming sales I receive from all of the platforms, it comes out to be about 0.004 cents per stream.

If you take that average and apply it to my top song on Spotify as shown below:



You can see that through Spotify, my song V Feeling from Ambient Highways has a total of 1,768 plays for an approximate net income of $7.00 US dollars. For what it’s worth, as of April of this year, Ambient Highways, which is one of my best received album, has only netted me a total of about $250 US Dollars via Streaming, Digital Downloads, etc. across all platforms since it’s release in July of 2015.   I’m basing that value on actual sales data from Streaming and Digital downloads as of April 2017 from my sales analysis chart, and adding perhaps $40 to it that comes from people who have subscribed to me on Bandcamp, and a couple of other donations from folks.

I’m not detailing this to whine or complain, I’m just detailing some facts in case your curious. We are entering a world where the majority of music consumption is going to be wholly based on streaming services.  In fact, I’d say we are technically already there.

That isn’t to say though, that there isn’t money to be made from streaming revenue.  For instance, let’s take someone like Lady Gaga.  Use the following snapshot from Spotify as a reference:


So the title track from her album “The Cure” released on Spotify only a month and a half ago has brought in 79,160,215 streams.  At $0.004 cents per stream on average (Of course her average may be completely different depending on her labels deal with Spotify, etc), that comes to a total of about $316,640 US Dollars.  That’s almost 1/3 of a million dollars on ONE SONG ALONE after ONLY a month and a half.  I’m sure that’s not the total net that Lady Gaga is getting from that.  There is certainly a large portion that goes to the label, and surely she has to pay for her staff, etc.  But let’s say just pretend that on a pretty solid guess, she’s netting about 1/3rd of that herself or $100K US.  Not bad for only a month and a half, right?   It’s details like this that make me question the reasoning behind some other major players not wanting their music on the streaming services (such as ehem, Taylor Swift).  I mean c’mon… In a streaming world, there is definitely some income to be made from it.

So now let’s take the top 5 songs and sum up their stream counts as of today for Lady Gaga.  Again using the image above as reference, that’s 552,374,224 streams (552 million folks!) at an estimated average of $0.004 cents per stream equates to $2,209,496.90 in streaming revenue from Spotify.  Let’s apply the 1/3 factor to take care of her label and other expenses, which comes to $736,498.  Nearly 1 million US dollars on just the top 5 from Spotify.

Spotify was officially launched in 2008, and I’m unsure when Lady Gaga first showed up on the platform, but let’s assume at the same time. That’s also about the time that her album “The Fame” was released, in which included Poker Face which is one of the top 5 albums.    Let’s take that total of $2,209,496.90 from the top 5 songs, divided by the number of years Spotify has been officially launched and you come up with an average of $245,499 per year of streaming income. (Note, I’m positive that in the early years there wasn’t that much generated, and it has only increased over time, it’s just an average.).  Apply the safe guestimate of 1/3 that goes direct to her and you have $81,833 on average per year of estimated personal income.  Remember that’s ONLY for the top 5 songs, and ONLY from Spotify.

Ok, so I’m not a real fan of Lady Gaga.  Sure she has some catchy tunes here and there, but I’m generally not a big fan of pop music, but you have to have some respect for the fact that she’s certainly getting some solid income from streaming services.

Ok, so now with all of that said, at this stage in my music career I know I’m not going to make a living just by getting my music on the streaming platforms TODAY.  And I may never amass the number of streams that Lady Gaga receives, but I certainly won’t discount an opportunity to be heard on any streaming platform such as Spotify.  You never know WHERE you’ll find your audience.

In the mean time, I’m working on getting my music licensed for TV and Film, and if you are a follower of mine, you know my ultimate goal is to compose music for film for a living.  I’m just working on it one day at a time, and one thing at a time.  Always saying “Yes” until I can’t anymore.  You never know where that sudden spike in listeners may come from.  I have to think of creative ways that allow folks to help support these endeavors.  For instance, check out some of the ways you can help support me via my support page here!

As an artist, you are just going to have to accept the fact that this is the world these days, and there is certainly an income to be made from streaming music.  Would you rather make a fraction of a cent off of a stream of your music, rather than nothing at all from your music being pirated and given away free without your permission?

Take a step back, and look at the big picture.  Don’t give up hope.

I’ll take that fraction of a cent any day.

– Keith


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