Spotify Paid Me $40,000 for 10 Million Streams. Is That Fair?

perrin_lamb

That paycheck belongs to Nashville-based singer-songwriter Perrin Lamb, whose track, ‘Everyone’s Got Something,’ has now received 10 million streams on Spotify.  According to a recent profile by the New York Times, that equals $40,000 in royalties for Lamb, who remains unsigned to either a record label or publisher.  “Mr. Lamb benefits from a business infrastructure that lets independent musicians operate outside the standard label system,” Times reporter Ben Sisario wrote.

$0.004 per play…

$40,000 is a nice amount of money for a singer-songwriter, but is it fair for such an extreme amount of listens?  The payout boils down to $0.004 (4/10ths of a penny) per play, though Perrin was surprised by the results and seemed enthusiastic about the earnings.  “There is a whole ecosystem of independent artists that are rethinking the way the business is done,” Lamb told Times reporter Ben Sisario. “I have friends who make a ton of money off YouTube, and vinyl sales and house shows.  There are so many ways to make it work beyond the traditional model.”

Sounds great, though Perrin still has a day job, albeit in the music industry.  According to the Times profile, Perrin is gainfully employed at Sorted Noise, a synchronization shop that focuses on placing songs in TV shows and movies.  That has helped his songwriting, raising the question of whether Perrin wants, or needs, to be a totally-independent, self-sufficient musician.

 

 

92 Responses

  1. Rick Shaw

    Is that fair? Consider how much it would have cost any artist to build Spotify themselves, and market it to attract the eyeballs required to get 10 million streams. Consider the fact that there is no proof that these streams take away revenue from any other outlet – digital or physical. Consider that this artist didn’t have that $40k before.

    Reply
    • Jaded Industry Guy

      I’m not fighting progress, however being in the industry for 12 years taught me at least one thing: Streaming and Piracy did make sales plummet. No question to be had. Truth and facts when you’re able to see the numbers first hand.

      However I personally believe artists will eventually, in the next 4 or 8 years, make more through streaming than they ever would have through digital downloads or cd sales. It’s a rollercoaster and the musicians of the next decade will reap the benefits while the other musicians gripe and moan.

      Reply
      • Jaded Industry Guy

        Also, not to create a ‘pity party’ but streaming more-less made me jobless in the industry, due to labels not being able to afford to keep staff… I, too, have to pivot.

        Reply
        • Rick Shaw

          That’s called an excuse. Similar to the labels, had you embraced technology and learned about it, you could be working for a streaming/tech company.

          Reply
          • Literally Can't Even

            Embrace technology!? Are we still using this beaten down, over-muttered cliché, in 2015? It’s such a simple, amazingly blunt phrase that overlooks all forms of nuance and debate, not to mention plopping the phrase “technology” into a giant bucket of sameness.

            Let’s PLEASE grow up, and realize that “technology” isn’t that simple, it permeates nearly every action and activity you do, every day. Your coffeemaker is a technology, that doesn’t mean they should be made out of plastic parts in China by 8 year olds. Should I embrace that?

          • Jaded Industry Dude

            Wow, I’m almost speechless. Ok let me break this down for you. ‘Embracing technology’ is something every single company I worked for did. When your sales, due to piracy, go down over 60%-80%, that means you can’t afford staff. The technology, which we embraced, caused this. There’s no way to embrace piracy (for the most part,) and we all embraced Spotify and other services. And the moment we embraced it, sales plummeted. Also, you assume I never worked at a digital distribution company, which would be an incorrect assumption to make.

            ‘Embracing piracy’ is a whole ‘nother topic, but, the only way to really embrace it is if you’re 100% self independent and assume your fanbase buys other items such as tickets and shirts. At record labels, unless you have a 360 deal, this won’t work and embracing it would be ridiculous. Sometimes album leaks would generate enough hype that album sales would go up, but very rarely and only in a pre-2005 world (for instance, “Steal this Album” by System of a Down.)

          • GGG

            It also bugs me when people act like piracy didn’t cause massive losses of money, HOWEVER, I’d argue that majors should have almost immediately hired some high-priced tech geeks, much like the government hires hackers, to really figure out what was going on with piracy. The general consensus seemed to be “let’s wait it out and see what happens” and/or “let’s sue people.” That to me says that they truly did not understand what piracy was, the tech behind it, and how it could grow.

            Now I’m not saying things would be totally fine right now, and obviously hindsight is 20/20, but if the industry would have embraced MP3s sooner, instead of trying to save physical, things would probably be a bit different. I feel like the anti-industry mindset increased people’s desires to pirate before it became ubiquitous. And by the time dial-up was outdated, shit just got exponentially worse. Which is another thing a tech guru probably would have been able to warn about. It’s one thing when it takes 20 minutes to download a song, it’s another when it takes 20 seconds.

          • ugh

            ” I feel like the anti-industry mindset increased people’s desires to pirate before it became ubiquitous.”
            NO. When things are easily stealable, they will be stolen. (See also: looting after a natural disaster when the law is unenforceable.)

            If people were so ‘anti-industry’ they could have stopped buying music or going to concerts long before. People felt that the price of CDs was reasonable, because that’s what they were willing to pay. If it had been $100 a cd, no one would have bought them, and the price would have dropped.

            People stole because they could, not because of some moral outrage at the Man. Music is not food and necessary for survival. It’s greed, that’s all it was.

          • GGG

            Then why did everyone lose their shit at Lars? And then pile that onto labels? Because there was finally another option. There was no option besides $18 CDs before that.

            Also, if you actually read carefully I said increased. Not caused, or was the only reason for.

          • Jaded Industry Dude

            As a kid, and even young adult, 18.99 was tough for me to throw down. Once albums got closer to 12.99, I had no problems with it, and when albums are priced at 7.99, to me it’s a no brainer. I’d buy albums that cheap based off cover art alone. I was part of the crowd as a kid saying “this costs too damn much” but then when iTunes allowed me to buy it for 9.99, I felt like that was too expensive without having lyrics and liner notes… Go figure, right? It’s hard to please the masses.

          • Remi Swierczek

            He could be working for “give away someone’s property” entity.

            That $40K has accumulated over long period of time – guy might bin starvation mode.

            Same song fed unmarked into global Radio system (over 100,000 stations) would earn at least $500K as we would charge for editions to the play lists.

            AGAIN, PREMIUM SUBSCRIPTION BASED STREAMING introduced by Mr. Ek with blessing of desperate and stupefied UMG KILLS MUSIC. Surprised to see Amazon, Google or Apple to follow such hopeless and cashless business kindergarten!

          • Remi Swierczek

            UMG is an embarrassment, clueless entity KILLING own goodwill and future of musicians and song writers!

            The leader of UNITED MARCH to the cliff continues the suicide of MUSIC.

            Soon, there will be “hanger games” with very few chosen ones living out of LIVE and UMG leeches catching some oxygen out of this activity.

          • cjhoffmn

            Rick – that’s really an annoyingly naive comment. Technology, by its nature displaces people from their jobs. Fewer people are needed now than before in the industry because of the technology, so people are forced to change. JiD actually has a great attitude towards it in this post and embraces that he had to change.

            This attitude that people could have “just changed with the times” is part of the problem. The times changed so that people weren’t needed. That’s not the fault of every person working before the tech change – and given that the technology enabled behavior that eviscerated the profits in the industry – its quite fair that people have a problem with the change.

          • Rick Shaw

            While it may be annoying to you and others, it is reality, and happens everywhere. Adapt or don’t, that is an individual choice. I know many people who used to be in the music biz that are now doing work completely different from the good old days because they saw the writing on the wall and adapted so they could pay their bills, etc. To complain that things have changed, but not take steps to change oneself is truly naive.

          • FarePlay

            Ric Shaw. If you were in the record business it was working for Limewire.

          • Rick Shaw

            Your crystal ball is broken beyond repair. I’ve been in the music biz for over three decades…and I’ve learned, grown and adapted to continue being in the digital music biz. For those who don’t/won’t/can’t, they should practice saying the phrase “would you like fries with that.”

          • Antinet

            I’m sure you’ve done a great job exploiting the talent of others. Maybe now you’ll get shoved into real estate or some other shark tank where you belong. Musicians will enforce their value, because they have what you don’t – ability, talent and heart, AND agressive defensive postures that no suit will ever trump, because the suits are GONE, minus the scumbag thieving gatekeepers at the top of the digital pyramid, but they will be removed in good time by armies of lawyers representing the true creators, not the parasites like YOU.

          • Antinet

            Typical punk from generation BendOver. The streaming services are run by thieves, period.

  2. Jason @ Indie Shuffle

    Yeah, that’s actually a really good rate of monetization. Most publishers on the internet tend to focus on CPM (cost per thousand). So, to fairly assess this you’d want to talk about it in units of 1,000.

    1,000 plays x $0.004 = $4. So, that’s roughly $4 eCPM to the artist, at a 100% fill across 10 million impressions globally. That’s *way* more than most publishers get, as I’m sure you can relate to given that you run a blog of your own 🙂

    Reply
      • Paul Resnikoff
        Paul Resnikoff

        Given that this is a completely unsigned musician with controlled compositions, I’d guess that we’re talking both recording + publishing.

        Reply
        • Publisher

          Mr. Lamb’s publisher is Fintage House. He is represented. These are just sound recording earnings. Publishing is incremental to what is reported in the Times.

          Reply
  3. Me

    Perrin Lamb currently has two songs that have generated over 10,000,000 streams, and the remaining 5 songs from the EP where these two songs come from has generated over 635,000 streams combined.

    Now the question is, was this $40,000 indeed for the one track, or the entire 7 song EP? And how much revenue generate from iTunes downloads? Amazon? Youtube? Google Music? Physical sales? Internet radio?

    Also, I’m assuming this is just for the sound recording royalties. How much did he make on the publishing end?

    To answer your question, I’d say $40,000 for 10,000,000 streams on one service is pretty fair.

    Reply
    • GGG

      Haven’t read the article yet, but based on Paul’s wording, the $40k is for that one song getting $40K.

      Reply
    • Paul Resnikoff
      Paul Resnikoff

      The article says one song, “the song” referring to “Everyone’s Got Something”

      “By the end of the year, the song had been listened to some 10 million times, earning Mr. Lamb more than $40,000.”

      Reply
  4. MarkH

    Why didn’t you title this article, “There are so many ways to make it work beyond the traditional model.” ?

    You know, something the man actually said.

    Reply
  5. GGG

    I think there’s two things to think about here:

    1) $40k for 10M plays is a bit less than what I, and many others, think is fair, especially when Spotify themselves tout their avg payout at .006. You can’t just find a big sum of money and say it’s “fair” because it’s big. Now, I’m not totally sure what I’d consider fair for 10M streams, it’s honestly not too much more, but as long as Spotify is going to claim .006 as their number, anything less will always be bullshit.

    2) On the other side of things, this does touch on things I’ve argued FOR streaming in the past. It’s access. This guy didn’t even know he was racking up this money or the popularity of his song. You can say 10M streams is a million records and making $40K from a million sales is lower than even the shittiest label deals, but without streaming would a label have gotten those numbers? I highly doubt it. Where that equilibrium is, I’m not sure, but it’s in no way apples to apples.

    Reply
    • Ariel

      It seems very wrong to equate 10M streams with a million album sales. A stream is one listen. A record is the right to listen over and over again. If you play a song on a radio show with a million person audience, that’s a million streams. Or if a thousand people buy a record and listen a thousand times.

      Reply
      • GGG

        Well, right. I agree with you. Though people on this site seem to think otherwise to varying degrees.

        Reply
        • FarePlay

          Let’s look at it another way. $40k would be sales of 4,000 CDs at $10 a pop. This is where an artist like Zoe Keating speaks up. She can make a good living selling 10,000 CDs a year and will never get close to 25 million plays, or even 5 million.

          And aside from legacy artists, we’re really talking about hit songs, which drives everything to the lowest common denominator and seriously narrows the field of who can survive. The majority of artists I listen to will never attain those numbers of plays.

          Reply
          • Me

            Considering he’s actually got two songs on his EP that have been streamed more than 10,000 times, he should be earning about $80,000 for this one EP.

          • GGG

            Right, but this also touches on another issue with comparing streaming and sales, at least in terms of newer, indie acts. Taking out labels and royalty rates for sake of argument, obviously $40k for 4K CDs vs 10M streams is incredibly lopsided. I’ve got no argument there for you. If you’ve got a healthy fanbase you’re fine with, and they support you by buying, as Zoe’s does, then, great! It’s your prerogative to not stream.

            But this is a case for the positive of streaming, it seems. It doesn’t seem like this guy would have sold many CDs at all if Spotify didn’t exist. He’s got $40k, most of which I think we can safely assume he would not have, if not for these playlist placements. It’s easy to look at that and think, “oh, if he got 10M streams he OBVIOUSLY would have sold x amount of records” but that’s not necessarily the case. Most likely, nobody would know who he is without this. He’d be one of a billion singer/songwriters that nobody knows exist, let alone cares about and buys his music. And chances are, literal millions of people that hear his song might not even like it! But he got paid because they heard it. It’s a nice thing to know that you can make money off people who hate your music. I’ve hate-listened to plenty of shit on Spotify just so I can be aware of what’s going on in culture haha.

            I’m also a bit more optimistic about streaming numbers than you are I guess. 10M probably won’t be THAT many in a short time. Similar to how 1M plays on YouTube was nuts, now nobody bats an eye. A small indie band I’m working with just released a record a month ago, and they’ve got almost 100k streams across their album now on Spotify, 250K+ for their video on YT. We haven’t gotten any huge playlist placements, just a handful of worthwhile press and knowing how to work ads. Now, is that money anything good right now? No, but it showed that it’s not impossible to drive people to your shit if you put some effort into it. When they get 2, 5, 10 times as many fans (which would still be relatively small), those numbers will (in theory) explode.

            Now, the big caveat here is that hopefully more and more streams doesn’t bring the avg per stream rate down too much more. Obviously everything I just said is irrelevant if the rate keeps dropping as streams go up and all of a sudden 10M streams is worth $10K.

  6. Ariel

    Seems like this strongly supports the “It’s the labels, stupid” point of view.

    Reply
    • Anonymous

      Based on what? Some number that you, personally, happen to feel good with?

      There’s no such thing as “fair” in this context – a thing is worth what someone will pay for it.

      The correct question is: does the $40,000 accurately reflect the true value to the market? If not, then $40,000 is “incorrect” as payment – either too low OR too high.

      And you have no way of knowing whether $40,000 is an accurate value here – and no way of substantiating that $100,000 would be accurate either. Amazing how people in this industry insist on pricing things and evaluating revenues based on personal feelings as opposed to market data.

      Reply
      • GGG

        Except these payouts aren’t really a market value. It’s Spotify’s internal system, which has swings from literally hundreths of a penny to over a cent per stream, based on my bands’ statements.

        Reply
        • Anonymous

          That’s exactly where most of the trouble is – and it’s what the music industry freely opts in to.

          You give up control over pricing your own product, and then complain that you don’t like the way it’s priced. Spotify’s payments are something you (as an industry) chose, and continue to choose despite the problems.

          Reply
          • GGG

            You’re conflating “industry” with probably no more than 5 industry execs and a cabal of lawyers who were remotely involved in any decision regarding this.

            The only reason I’m arguing you is because, based on your first response above, you seem to think a penny a play is some absurd amount of money to pay for a stream. Which it’s not, and it actually happens. So it’s not some “feel good” number, it’s a pretty solid benchmark that theoretically could be met if Spotify were to figure out a way to actually monetize their users. Not to mention, if we take it down to a more realistic notch, Spotify has repeatedly touted .006 as their average stream rate. This guy’s are at .004, and my bands are at .004 avg. Doesn’t matter if you’re talking about a small band making an extra $200, my bands making an extra $2k or this guy making an extra $20K, it’s a substantial difference.

            Look, depending on the context of the debate, you and I are probably more on the same page than not. But there’s a point where you need to fight back. I’ll be, and have been, the first to say “hey, let’s adapt to modernity!” but it can be done without wanting to be raped, as well.

      • roland

        based on what I know about spotify’s financial statements.

        fair in the sense that this guy who spent his entire life to write an amazing song that effected millions of people’s lives and will probably continue to for years to come. $40k is tragic. 10 cents a listen is fair. based on my true feelings.

        Reply
        • GGG

          I would not hold your breath for 10 cents a stream…haha.

          If that’s what you think is fair, I would definitely say don’t put your music on streaming services.

          Reply
  7. roland

    though considering spotify is losing money, you could say its fair of them. not fair in general though.

    Reply
  8. DavidB

    I wouldn’t say it’s *un*fair. As has been pointed out, $0.004 is below the payout rates Spotify themselves claim are average, but it may exclude a share for publishing and aggregation.

    But there are some puzzling aspects which deserve a closer look. Perrin Lamb has two tracks (this one and another from the same album) with over 10 million plays each on Spotify. No other tracks on the album come close to a million. And his other albums get even fewer plays: typically less than 20,000 streams per track. (All figures based on Spotify’s own playcount displays.) So it doesn’t seem that Lamb has an unexpectedly large fanbase who listen to a lot of his work: if they did, there would be a more even spread of figures. There must be something specific about these two tracks. Listening to them, I don’t see what it is – they are pleasant enough, but they don’t strike me as massive hit material, at least without big commercial promotion. But these things are a mystery, and I can accept that my judgement of hit potential doesn’t count for much.

    But hang on, are these songs hits anywhere but Spotify? The obvious place to look is YouTube, which gives playcounts and typically has higher numbers than Spotify. Searching Perrin Lamb’s YouTube tracks by view count gives a startling result: no individual entry for Lamb, including these two songs, has view counts above 100,000! Admittedly there is more than one ‘user-uploaded’ video for each song, but even on the most generous estimate I don’t see how either of them could get above a million views in total. This is far short of the Spotify numbers, in defiance of everything we know about the relative usage of the two platforms. (Lamb’s other songs get view counts on YT closer in line with their counts on Spotify.)

    So a mystery remains: what is it that makes these two songs so successful specifically on Spotify? Have they been given some special promotional treatment? Is someone gaming the system to boost the numbers (it wouldn’t be the first time)? Or, perish the thought, could someone at Spotify have thought it would be good PR to give a little-known indie artist a fat pay check and then tip off the NYT? I’m only asking!

    Reply
    • GGG

      It’s the power of playlists. I’ve been on a tear trying to find the people who curate those things because they can be almost instantaneous gifts. Through a contact, I recently got a track on a very popular playlist for an hour (before it was taken down because the artist wasn’t, at that point, verified) and it got played 8k times in that hour. Other, much smaller playlists I’ve got placements on have still boosted plays by anywhere from 50-1000 a day.

      So it’s not that people necessarily love that song, it must have a high spot on one of the bigger, more featured playlists.

      Reply
    • Paul Resnikoff
      Paul Resnikoff

      Interesting look, DavidB. I’d argue that, beyond their inclusion in playlists, most ‘fans’ aren’t digging deeper beyond those tracks. I know that for a vast majority of artists these days, I’m not going past a few tracks. Only the ones I truly love. It’s just not an album culture anymore.

      As for the superfans tweeting Perrin, well, consider that these people are probably in a small percentage minority. It’s unclear, for example, if Perrin could leverage this popularity into something like a tour. It might just not run deeply enough.

      Reply
      • Mike Vial

        Plus, developing artists in the US who get lucky and are added to a Spotify playlist often find a lot of the streaming is coming from over seas. That’s going to be a very expensive tour to do for an artist without touring experience!

        Stats from Spotify about Perrin Lamb’s top five most listened areas:
        Stockholm, New York, Quezon City, Taipei…How’s he going to tour four of those places? It’s possible, but overwhelming.

        Hopefully artists like him (that want to tour) are using Next Big Sound to track other data from Spotify to make decisions.

        Reply
  9. Read the article

    You might consider reading the NYT article before commenting. You’ll find out why those two tracks are getting more traction on Spotify.

    Reply
    • DavidB

      You’re right, I should have read the NYT article first. Silly me, thinking that if the article included such a fundamental point, DMN would have mentioned it!

      The cynic in me says we should still ask why Spotify included these songs on their playlists, and for how long. But regardless of the reasons, it does mean they cannot be treated as in any way typical of the income an indie artist can expect from Spotify. It is like citing lottery winners as evidence of the benefits of gambling!

      Reply
      • LIterally Can't Even

        It is like citing lottery winners as evidence of the benefits of gambling!

        HA!

        Funny, I think the difference is that the New York Times chose not the biggest lottery winner, but a moderate lottery winner. You know, the guy who wins $30,000 at a craps table. Then walks away, and goes back to his normal life.

        Not $300 million! But… enough to write an interesting story about.

        Reply
      • Name2

        That’s exactly what happened. His two songs were handpicked for playlists called “Your Favorite Coffeehouse” and “Mood Booster”. Talk about clickbait. Brian Epstein had to sign away the Beatles publishing to Dick James to get them on TV. As far as I can see, Mr. Lamb still has his gonads.

        But yeah, let’s go back to the good old days.

        Reply
  10. In the know

    The Times article missed some of the publishing royalties in their total. More info coming soon. Publishing pays out later.

    Reply
  11. Der

    In the early 2Ks, more than 10 years ago, in the good old times of the online advertising, the ad companies paid 0.001 cents per click (for one single mouse action, over some JPG image)… Now, we are in 2015, 0.004 cent per stream, is just terrible!!!!
    Five figure earnings?? That would be acceptable for indie bands, with a lean structure.

    Reply
  12. Anonymous

    There needs to be a flat, statutory rate per play. And it needs to be at least twice what this guy saw.

    Spotify’s method of monetization can’t work. Ads cannot sustain them. Their paid model needs to be based on the way cell phone usage is charged: a generous amount allotted each month for a set fee, and then fees for exceeding that amount. Stop f*cking around and make this happen.

    Reply
    • Chris

      Either people need to pay more than £10 per month, or Spotify have to pay out more than 70% of their earnings, for that rate to increase. Do you think either is reasonable?

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        Try reading what I wrote, and then applying logic. Your scenarios are strawmen.

        Reply
      • Antinet

        Really enjoy the defenders of the tipoff model. Why does what happens to Spotify mean more than the true talent of artists. Daniel Ek is an enemy of art, period. If people won’t pay more than $10 a month for music, then they don’t get it – simple enough. When I was a teenager, I paid a whole lot more than $10 a month for music, not counting adjusted for inflation. SO tired of these brainless arguments.

        Reply
  13. Some dude

    The problem is both Spotify and Pandora are top heavy with salaries and bleeding money.
    Positive cash flow has not been achieved and at some point unless that changes. This model will disappear faster than DAT or DVD audio. This really all has to do with the valuation of music. With no clear models on the horizon (tidal and Apple Music/beats are failures) we should be asking what’s next?

    Reply
  14. Yep

    Lesson 1 in streaming: Get on a playlist. Congrats Perrin Lamb
    Lesson 2 in steaming: Don’t sign to a label.

    Reply
  15. Fred

    10 millions streams is not an extreme amount of listens. Check Adeles Hello 17 million Spotify streams in a week. That’s what I call extreme. 10 million is a fair number of streams.

    Reply
    • jon

      I presume the majority of the streams are from Spotify’s radio/playlisting and not on-demand streams. If on-demand, he is getting screwed. HOWEVER, if radio play, then his check is spot-on with what a 100% rights holder gets for the sound recording.

      Whether its fair or not is a complicated question. For instance – if its noninteractive radio – I suggest it is fair to compare it to terrestrial radio. Then, he made about $40,000 more than he did on terrestrial. On the other hand, most major market radio stations (KISS or Z100) will reach 10M users every 4-5 days. No way Radio will ever (or should ever) pay $40K per song.

      Reply
    • DavidB

      10 million streams per track may not be extreme, but it is probably in the top 5 percent. I think it would be unusual for an artist who isn’t getting massive commercial promotion. For example, I just checked the figures for Foals, a fairly well-known indie band, and Lianne La Havas, an excellent and highly praised solo singer, but not (yet) in the top commercial elite. Foals have one song with over 40 million plays (maybe another of those playlist promotions, as it is well above the YouTube number for the same track), another with just over 10 million, and a few others in the same ball park. For Lianne La Havas, there is nothing over 5 million yet. I think her latest (2015) album is doing well, and most tracks will probably break the 5m barrier, but her first album, from 2012, still has most tracks between 2 and 4 million plays after 3 years. That album totals about 30 million streams, which would generate a payout of about $150,000, which is better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, but may not even cover the cost of making and promoting the album.

      Reply
  16. Walt

    Ridiculous. Spotify has never paid $40,000 for 10 million streams. There would be 2 or 3 too many zeros here, guys.

    Reply
  17. joram

    Yes, I think it is fair compared to what you would receive when played on the radio for 10.000.000 listeners. If Every European, Canadian and American would listen 1 time to this song, Perrin Lamb would earn 4.000.000 USD. If 4000 fans would buy a 10-song album by mr Lamb for 10 USD and listen to it 25 times in their lives, mr Lamb wouldn’t complain, would he?

    Reply
  18. Literati X

    Forty thousand dollars for 10 million streams can be construed as more than fair compare to an industry that will send you out in (50) world wide distribution contracts of streams, digital permanent downloads , synchronization , offline–content mobile , pre-installed in hardware , and operating systems and keep you on $ 0.00 –zereo-zero for 12 years ; not a dime ! Not one dirty penny for your poetic problems ! Oh I forgot , you did give up a half filled jar of pennies per play after 2 and half years and a soft kick in the ass from my mob. . .

    Reply
    • Spoken X

      And never forget that the half jar full of pennies were institutionally rigged in the (50} world wide distribution deal because I stood in a lonely independent music store on the web on my own and racked up thirty thousand on demand streams. Now that’s more than big ole penny jar that didn’t have to get multiplied by 222,000 per play simply because you were impersonating publisher X. . .

      Reply
  19. Steven Cravis

    The only way to answer ‘is that fair?’ would be to answer 1. Did he get all the Spotify royalties that were owed, and 2. What did Spotify make from those 10 million spins.

    Reply
  20. NABby

    “for such an extreme amount of listens”

    Nope. Roughly equivalent to 20 plays on a radio station with a 500K audience, e.g., 100 plays/100K audience, etc. For this, forty grand seems like quite a lot to me!

    A stream is *one* listen by *one* person.

    Streams != sales, their numbers are *not* analogous!!!!

    Reply
  21. Josh Collum from Sorted Noise

    Hey guys, my name is Josh Collum and I own Sorted Noise and work with Perrin. An op-ed I wrote about Perrin’s story was the basis for the NY Times piece. It’s got a lot more detail and will be published in the next day or two. There’s some great conversation going on here. That was our intent. It’s also encouraging (if not relieving) to see so many commenters who really get it. And I appreciate Paul posting this.

    I see a couple of questions that are being asked that could use some clarification. I want to provide that.

    1. The 40k’ish number is for ONE song (“Everyone’s Got Something”) and accounts for ONLY streaming fees, or “sales.” NOT mechanicals or digital performance royalties. For those familiar, you know that mechanicals and digital performance royalties are historically lagging in their reporting and collections. I can tell you that based on what Perrin has collected so far, the total income, inclusive of all three revenue streams is over 56k for those 10 million streams. And that will of course increase as collection catches up.

    2. A stream does not equal a download or radio spin. We have to disconnect from the emotionality of the number. Here’s why… If you sell a download to a person, your business transaction with that person on that song is over forever after 99 cents. With streams, your business interaction with that customer on a song is infinite. To that point, 10 million streams is actually not a ton. And as more people transition into the streaming ecosystem, 10 million will seem even smaller.

    I’ll jump back in the conversation and answer any questions if I see a need to. But I’m loving the dialogue. It’s important.

    Reply
    • Clarify?

      You said:

      “The 40k’ish number is for ONE song (“Everyone’s Got Something”) and accounts for ONLY streaming fees, or “sales.” NOT mechanicals or digital performance royalties.”

      I think (?) what you meant to say is that the 40k’ish number represents sound recording streaming fees for the recording ONLY. NOT mechanicals or performance royalties for the composition.

      Right?

      The only “digital performance royalties” (i.e. performance royalties that are unique to digital services, only) are those for the sound recording. Performance royalties for the song are paid for both digital AND analog performances. And those, along with mechanicals, tend to take longer to be processed.

      While I’m here, I’ll also respond to your assertion that:

      “If you sell a download to a person, your business transaction with that person on that song is over forever after 99 cents. With streams, your business interaction with that customer on a song is infinite.”

      That view seems quite optimistically biased.

      First, there is nothing that says once a customer buys a CD, there is no more transactions to be had with them. More to the point, just because folks are streaming Perrin’s songs on Spotify, that does not constitute an “infinite transaction” with any particular “customer.”

      The customers there are Spotify’s, not Perrin’s.

      Unless you are talking specifically about Perrin having access to those Spotify listeners through Spotify, how does being played for listeners by Spotify constitute “infinite transactions” with those listeners?

      Reply
      • Josh Collum from Sorted Noise

        Correct on your first clarification re: sound recordings and mechanicals / performance royalties.

        Re: my assertion about business transactions… I’m simply making the point that once someone purchases a download (or a CD), they pay a fee once, and can listen to that song as many times as they’d like, forever. That customer paid the artist and songwriters once to purchase that song. With streaming, they could pay the artist and songwriter now, they could also pay them in 50 years, and they could pay them millions of times in between.

        “Finite” and “infinite” might be too much of an absolute terminology. My point is simply that there is opportunity (and yes, optimism) in the notion and potential of such a long, continuous transactional relationship with a customer.

        I’m guessing you’re an attorney, correct? 🙂

        Reply
    • superduper

      Except you will never know how many times your song will be streamed. At least you can know how many units it has sold. And even still, the payouts are so low (and will most likely remain so low) that downloads will still be more profitable than streaming.

      Reply
    • Vail, CO

      Hi Josh, do you expect to receive full mechanical royalties? Just wondering if this is a broader issue that needs to be examined.

      Reply
      • Josh Collum from Sorted Noise

        Perrin is admin’d by a great worldwide company called Fintage and we do expect to collect on every penny.

        But, yes, I do think there is room for an evolution in business model here. Not necessarily in the nuts and bolts of how these revenues are collected on the ground (when you’re dealing with multiple territories that have different rules, it’s just a naturally slow process), but in the interfacing between those that are collecting (publisher, admin company, etc) and the songwriter. We hear the word “transparency” a lot these days, and I think that’s a good place to start. You see a few companies already building user experiences that are great. Kobalt for example. There’s a lot power in simply knowing where your money is in the pipeline.

        Reply
    • Clarify?

      Your guess is correct.

      I still have an issue with the way you are talking/thinking about the relationship with the Spotify customer.

      It’s not a quibble with the absolute “finite” and “infinite” terms. I don’t see the rationale behind your point that there is opportunity in the notion and potential of such a long, continuous “transactional relationship with a customer.”

      Again, Perrin’s relationship is NOT with the customer. Perrin’s relationship is with Spotify. It is Spotify that has the relationship with the customer.

      If what you mean to say is that the revenue realization from continuous streaming is ongoing (and can continue to generate income indefinitely), whereas the revenue realization from a singe sale/download is limited to that one transaction, then I understand that point.

      But that has nothing to do with a “relationship” with the customer. That’s just a function of the customer’s choice between outright ownership vs. access – regardless of which service the customer uses to do either, and regardless of the artist’s “relationship” with the customer.

      I’m not just trying to be pedantic. I think this is important, in a larger context, because as the industry changes to an access model (which access includes more selection for consumers and more discretion being exercised by those consumers), the artist’s relationship with their fans continues to become more significant.

      Your characterization of merely being on a continuous streaming service as some sort of “relationship” with the listener seems out of place, from that viewpoint. Simply being streamed doesn’t really accomplish any greater connection between an artist and a listener than selling a download or a CD does.

      Being able to know something about those listeners, like who they are, what else they listen to, how much they listen, etc., etc., however – and that is information that the streaming services have – CAN make a big difference.

      superduper? Of COURSE you can know how many times your song will be streamed. Indeed, with digital services, you can know EXACTLY how many times it’s been streamed, unlike terrestrial, where they only use survey data

      You can assume that “downloads will still be more profitable than streaming” but I think you will eventually be proven wrong. Streaming, if/when it scales, can (and will) generate huge revenue. I think it will be awhile before that happens (thereby keeping Paul and this site in business for a while longer) but, when it does, it will be like Cable TV is now, with people saying “Remember 30 years ago, when everyone said: ‘No one will pay for TV. Subscription TV will never make significant money.’ All of those folks have been proven absolutely, dead wrong.”

      Reply
    • Clarify?

      Your guess is correct. 🙂

      I still have an issue with the way you are talking/thinking about the relationship with the Spotify customer.

      It’s not a quibble with the absolute “finite” and “infinite” terms. I don’t see the rationale behind your point that there is opportunity in the notion and potential of such a long, continuous “transactional relationship with a customer.”

      Again, Perrin’s relationship is NOT with the customer. Perrin’s relationship is with Spotify. It is Spotify that has the relationship with the customer.

      If what you mean to say is that the revenue realization from continuous streaming is ongoing (and can continue to generate income indefinitely), whereas the revenue realization from a singe sale/download is limited to that one transaction, then I understand that point.

      But that has nothing to do with a “relationship” with the customer. That’s just a function of the customer’s choice between outright ownership vs. access – regardless of which service the customer uses to do either, and regardless of the artist’s “relationship” with the customer.

      I’m not just trying to be pedantic. I think this is important, in a larger context, because as the industry changes to an access model (which access includes more selection for consumers and more discretion being exercised by those consumers), the artist’s relationship with their fans continues to become more significant.

      Your characterization of merely being on a continuous streaming service as some sort of “relationship” with the listener seems out of place, from that viewpoint. Simply being streamed doesn’t really accomplish any greater connection between an artist and a listener than selling a download or a CD does.

      Being able to know something about those listeners, like who they are, what else they listen to, how much they listen, etc., etc., however – and that is information that the streaming services have – CAN make a big difference.

      superduper? Of COURSE you can know how many times your song will be streamed. Indeed, with digital services, you can know EXACTLY how many times it’s been streamed, unlike terrestrial, where they only use survey data

      You can assume that “downloads will still be more profitable than streaming” but I think you will eventually be proven wrong. Streaming, if/when it scales, can (and will) generate huge revenue. I think it will be awhile before that happens (thereby keeping Paul and this site in business for a while longer) but, when it does, it will be like Cable TV is now, with people saying “Remember 30 years ago, when everyone said: ‘No one will pay for TV. Subscription TV will never make significant money.’ All of those folks have been proven absolutely, dead wrong.”

      Reply
  22. Name2

    If you’re going to use that petulant, whiny clickbait motif for headlines, you could at least make in the 3rd person. There’s no actual quote from Mr. Lamb as bellyachin’ as you’ve made him sound.

    Reply
  23. Elzo

    $0.004 per play on Spotify means the song was mostly played by ad-supported users. Or in other words, people who -probably/certainly- wouldn’t paid to download the mp3 or buy the cd. Yep, it’s fair.

    Reply
    • GGG

      No it doesn’t. Per stream rates range from hundredths of a penny to over a cent. It just evens out, for indie artists at least, to .004. If anything, based on Spotify’s .006 number, it’s being played more my free-tier or reduced tier people.

      Reply
      • Name2

        A lot (a lot) of people clicked “My Favorite Coffeehouse” on the world’s most popular streaming site and had no idea who Lamb was, and still don’t. Lamb got paid for his troubles.

        Is there some part of this which confuses you?

        Is there some part of this which – in a sane world – gets us to “Shoulda been more cash on that table”?

        Reply
        • GGG

          Is this supposed to be replying to me or did something mess up?

          Because you’re not really talking about the same thing…

          Reply
          • Name2

            You said that based on the per-stream payout, it looks like his plays were for the most part not on-demand.

            I took your .006 comment to indicate a typical number when there’s a combination of playlist/not-on-demand and neglible indie-level demand.

            They guy may be very nice, but he’s got nada without the Spotify playlists. Potentially even less than a known indie band with playlist action + a small cult following.

    • GGG

      I think I misread your comment, since I’m sort of saying the same thing in mine… haha

      Reply
  24. Let's See What Paul Does...

    I wonder if Paul will print the actual Op ed that Josh Collum wrote that started this whole discussion. In it, Collum points out – like some others have – that streaming and the emerging music business are actually good for artists. Some choice quotes:

    “You see, in my world, Spotify is not the problem. I repeat… Spotify is not the problem.”

    “I bet you have heard the horror stories of how streaming music is undercutting the careers of songwriters and artists.

    Whether it’s Aloe Blacc’s Op-Ed in Wired where he states he’s made less than $4,000 domestically as a songwriter in streaming revenue from “Wake Me Up,” and frames his scenario this way: “If that’s what’s now considered a streaming ‘success story,’ is it any wonder that so many songwriters are now struggling to make ends meet?”

    Or, Thom Yorke tweeting things like, “Make no mistake, artists you discover on Spotify will not get paid.”

    Of course, that’s not a streaming success story. And of course, indie artists you discover on Spotify will get paid.”

    “Some songwriters and artists are making a living that simply was not possible five years ago.

    I was at a mixer recently in Nashville with over 200 songwriters and artists in the room, all of them making significant money through micro-licensing to indie films and small to mid-size brands. Money they had no way of making five years ago.

    These songwriters and artists represent a class and generation that has thrown away the old rules of the music business and begun writing the new ones.

    One of those new rules is to embrace streaming on all platforms, from Spotify to Youtube, and more. They’ve re-thought their businesses (yes, they are businesses) and the deals they choose to sign through the prism of a “Post-Napster” perspective. And they are making a living that simply was not possible five years ago. These are the true success stories.”

    I think these success stories need to get more attention than they do.”

    “These artists don’t have 10 million Twitter followers. They don’t get asked to speak on Capitol Hill. And they don’t appreciate it when major artists and songwriters, who have completely different business structures from independent artists, say, “I’m speaking for the up and coming, unsigned artist or songwriter.”

    Reply
  25. Anonymous

    Amounts and figures aside. can anyone tell me how Mr. Perrin managed to get his music onto said playlist. It reads as if it was divine intervention. Mr. Perrin is gainfully employed by Sorted Noise, a music licensing company. Were the relationships the company had with gatekeepers instrumental in making this happen?

    Reply

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