Every once in a while, an artist opens their books for the world to see. Like Uniform Motion, a group that just published a comprehensive breakdown of their album earnings (not revenues) across multiple formats. In most cases, the best way to compensate an artist is to buy direct, though Uniform Motion tossed a wildcard with a name-your-price download on their site. The following measures one full album play on Spotify, one LP purchase, etc. (euros translated to US dollars)…
There are some details and nuances worth delving into. The fan that is likely to purchase a CD is also likely to listen to that album repeatedly on Spotify or Deezer, thereby multiplying the payoff. A more casual fan, however, generally listens and purchases less and means little financially (across any of these areas).
Updated, 9/19: Spotify responds to the discussion and allegations of paltry payouts.
And, Uniform also noted that Spotify offers far less transparency than iTunes or Amazon on its payouts. There are also some volume and sunk-cost considerations around vinyl worth reading.
Here’s the complete breakdown, as blogged by the artist (and reprinted here with permission).
With Spotify, we’ll get 0.003 EUR/play.
If you listen to the album all the way through, we’ll get 0.029 EUR.
If you listen to the album 10 times on Spotify, we’ll get 0.29 EUR
If you listen to it a hundred times, we’ll get 2.94 EUR
If you listen to the album 1,000 times (once a day for 3 years!) we’ll get 29.47 EUR!
If you use the free version of Spotify, it won’t cost you anything. Spotify will make money from ads. If you use any of the paid versions, we have no idea how they carve up the money. They only disclose this information to the Major record labels…
Deezer seems to pay a little more.
We’ve been getting 0.006 EUR/play from them. That’s 0.052 EUR/album play. If you listen to the album 10 times on Deezer, we’ll get 0.52 EUR. If you listen to it a hundred times, we’ll get 5.2 EUR. If you listen to the album 1,000 times (once a day for 3 years!) we’ll get a whopping 52 EUR!
If you use the free version of Deezer, it won’t cost you anything and Deezer will make money from the ads. If you use any of the paid versions, we have no idea how they carve up the money either.
eMusic is a subscription service. The cost of the album will depend on the plan you have. We get roughly $0.29/song or $2.60/album (9 songs).
You’ll pay 7.11 EUR to download the MP3’s. We will get 4.97 EUR of that. That’s a 70-30 split.
The album will cost you 8.91 EUR to buy from Apple.
There’s a 70-30% split there too, so we will keep 6.28 EUR/album.
That being said, it costs us 35 EUR/year to keep an album on iTunes, Spotify, and Amazon (105 EUR per year for all 3 of our albums!) so we don’t make any money until 24 people have bought a digital copy of the album on iTunes, or 150 single songs, or if we get tens of thousands of listens on Spotify! In most cases, it’s actually more economically viable not to sell the music at all.
But what about if you buy the Digital version directly from us?
We allow people to pay what they want for the digital version. If you choose to pay 5 EUR, Paypal takes 0.37 EUR, Bandcamp takes 0.75 EUR. Uniform Motion keeps 3.88 EUR. it doesn’t cost us anything to have a page on Bandcamp.
If you decide to pay nothing, well, we get nothing, but at least you didn’t give money indirectly to major record labels, which seems to be the case with Spotify!!
[editor note: we used actual figures from the group, instead of the 5 euro proxy.]
If you buy a CD, directly from us for 10 EUR, Paypal takes 0.515 EUR, Bandcamp takes 1.5 EUR. So there’s slightly less than 8 EUR left for us. But hold on a second, it costs a fair bit to make the CD.
The CD itself costs 1.2 EUR, the booklet costs about 50 cents, the CD packaging is 1.8 EUR and the sticker on the front costs 35 cents.
That’s a total of 3.65 EUR
So in reality, there’s 4.34 EUR left for us.
If you buy a 12″ Vinyl from us at 15 EUR, Bandcamp takes 2.25 EUR, Paypal takes 0.646 EUR so there’s 12.10 left. The cost of the Vinyl itself is 3.06 EUR
The labels cost 1.3 EUR. For a total of 4.36 EUR
So there’s 7.75 EUR left for us.
However, we had to press 250 of these (because that’s the minimum order), so it’s very unlikely we’ll make any money on them.
We need to sell 72 copies before we break even on the vinyl edition. We’ve sold about 30 so far.
If we break even, we’ll lower the price a little bit. 🙂