Think streaming doesn’t pay? Then you’re not gaming the system right.
Late last month, we post the royalty statement from an indie rap label earning several dollars per stream (yes, per individual stream) on Microsoft Groove. More specifically, this label was pulling in an average of $4.65 per individual stream, which started adding up very quickly.
In case you needed a little refresher, here’s what the actual royalty report from Groove looked like.
Compared to low-barrel payouts at Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube, there’s absolutely no comparison. Apple Music, for example, pays a paltry $0.002 per stream on its free trial, while Spotify routinely falls below $0.005 per stream. YouTube, and more recently Google Play Music, have so many zeros in their per-stream payout reports, they have to be expressed in terms of exponential zeros on spreadsheets (and you think we’re joking, check this out).
All of which makes Microsoft Groove’s current payouts roughly 1,000 times better than what Spotify is offering. Which offers a rare opportunity to actually make some money off of streaming music. In fact, our back-of-the-envelope calculations show that you can realistically score about $50,000 in streaming revenue if you play this right.
Now, we’re not sure if this is a glitch in the royalty payout matrix or some other error, but it’s entirely possible that Microsoft is simply dividing the money from its massive, paying Xbox userbase and spreading it across a relatively small number of streams. Either way, savvy rights owners and artists are starting to jump in to take advantage of whatever’s going on, with the possibility of this high-paying window closing at some point.
(Quick note before going further: Microsoft has changed the name of its streaming music service a few times over the years, and we’ve seen at least three different names on streaming royalty reports. That includes Xbox Music, Musiwave Xbox, Zune, and Groove, with other variations included. As far as we know, they’re all the same thing.)
But, how can you best position yourself to take advantage of this?
So, we went back to the indie rap label and tried to figure out what’s going on. It looks like there’s a big difference between plays that are happening on the Xbox gaming platform, and those that are happening on other platforms (like the Android Microsoft Groove app, the desktop app, etc.) But strangely, even those non-Xbox platforms seem to be paying more than 4 cents per stream consistently, which is still 8 times better than Spotify.
But, let’s kill the fattest beast first, shall we? “Really it’s quite simple,” the head of the label behind this high-paying experiment told Digital Music News this week. And here’s his quick, four-step process (in the label head’s words) to getting in front of the most lucrative streaming music audience in the world: gamers.
Step 1: ‘Put ads on Xbox targeting gamers to get your music into the users’ playlists when they play games’
The place to start that process on the Microsoft Network is here.
And, for a quick primer on what Xbox One ads are all about, read this article for background.
Step 2: Once that’s set up, ‘Keep adding fresh new music that the users can add to their playlists.’
Don’t blow your musical wad. Keep feeding the beast so that things don’t get too stale. We didn’t get specific advise on how often, but a lot is going to depend on your genre and how it matches to gamers.
And remember: know your audience! These are gamers playing aggressive first-person shooter games, not hipsters talking about their mason jar collections. Coffeehouse ballads will probably not do as well in first-person shooter games, while rap, rock, and EDM will probably do better.
Step 3: Let it roll.
“When they play their games, your music plays and racks up streams,” the label head relayed. “Most gamers are so involved in the games that the music is secondary, and gamers like hearing different music and not the same repetitive music in their gaming experience.”
Step 4: Repeat Step 2, start counting your money.
Great! You’re now ready to start gaming the Microsoft Groove system.
Now, once you’ve put your rinse-and-repeat cycle into overdrive, start responding to the songs that are getting most pickup. Once that’s established, your first hurdle should be to reach an initial 1,000 spins, which equals $4,500 — $5,000. At a 10,000 to 12,000, a nice stretch goal, you’ve now reached around $50,000.
Now, one other quick thing: this has nothing to do with bots! That was a big accusation in the comments section on the earlier piece, but according to the label, it’s completely ridiculous. “These ‘experts’ really have no clue lol,” the label head told us. “A bot runs a whopping total of 160 streams for a whole month and the streaming services pays on average over $4.00 per stream and this is due to a BOT lol.”
Any questions? Share your successes with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.