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No One Wants To Talk Numbers When It Comes To Streaming Revenue. Well, Here Are Mine

The following is by a NYC based independent artist Ron Pope. It originally appeared on the Huffington Post. I profiled him in How 10 Musicians Make Good Livings In Today’s Music Industry.

ron_pope_promo

My name is Ron Pope. I’m an independent musician, producer, songwriter, and label owner. I read the recent post on the Guardian ‘Plugged In’ which questioned why no independent artists are standing up and cheering for Spotify. It seemed as if they were beseeching someone like me to respond.

I want to be clear that no one from Spotify has asked me to write this article and I’m not being paid for sharing my opinion. In the past, I’ve heard many people complain that no one wants to talk numbers when it comes to streaming revenue; well, here are mine. My music was added to Spotify in September of 2010; through the most recent report, which runs through November 2013, I’ve had over 57 million plays and they’ve paid me out $334,636 with over $200,000 of that coming in 2013. I’m getting over a million streams in Sweden alone most months. As a result of this, I was offered a very respectable guarantee to play at the Bråvalla festival there last summer, where singalongs like this happened during every song:

I have an extensive catalog; Spotify allows fans to take in all of my music so that they can become a fan of me as an artist, rather than directing them to one particular single. That’s why my Swedish fans are able to sing along to songs that are eight years old the same way they sing along to songs that are eight months old. With Spotify, it’s not about a single; the fans can pour over my entire catalog and follow my journey from my first album all the way through to today.

When I played in Norway in early 2012, I sold around 100 tickets; since then, my music has exploded on Spotify there. My upcoming show sold out at 450 tickets more than three months in advance. I’m seeing tangible effects from Spotify every day in my career. I can now sell hundreds of tickets in cities I’d never heard of just a few years ago. Last year, in countries where Spotify is popular, such as Norway and Sweden, I made eight times more per capital than I did in the United States. My three top countries in earnings for 2013 were the US, where there are about 317 million people, Sweden, where there are about 10 million people, and then Norway, where there are about five million people. Almost no one in Sweden and Norway are buying music; more than 97% of the revenue I’m generating in those countries comes from streaming.

I’m not going to argue about whether or not streaming canalizes sales; of course it does, and anyone who tries to convince you differently is selling snake oil and magic beans. Regardless of that fact, what I’m seeing is a marked increase in revenue because so much of my music is now being consumed by so many people. I’d argue that many of these people wouldn’t have taken the opportunity to listen to me in the first place if they didn’t have the option to check me out on Spotify without any initial monetary commitment.

Until a few years ago, I was deriving 95% of my income from selling digital singles.

If there’s anyone who should be afraid of streaming, it’s me. Instead, I’m watching my fanbase grow exponentially.

My fans utilize social networking and streaming sites like Spotify to create an honest to goodness grassroots movement. These fans are consuming my entire catalog rather than one specific single.

At this point, standing at the gates of Spotify with an angry lynch mob waving pitchforks and torches is like people who threw up their hands eight years ago bemoaning the death of the CD. At this juncture in history, the music industry is like the Wild West; we’re all trying to figure out how to exist in a volatile new place that is constantly changing. Artists, label owners, producers, all of us have to look forward, not backward, and try to learn how to exist in a streaming world. I don’t know that Spotify will be the savior of the music industry and bring back the boom time 90’s bonanza that this business once enjoyed, but it has certainly worked wonders for my career. I felt it was only right for me to stand up and say so.

Follow Ron Pope on Twitter: @ronpopemusic
ronpopemusic.com

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Comments (81)
  1. Me

    Just out of curiosity, could you break that down into subscription streams and ad-supported streams?


    Reply
      1. Me

        That’s not breaking it down. That’s only one rate, which I assume is an average rate.


        Reply
      2. Anonymous

        “Here’s what the numbers look like as of 2014″

        Wow, so you only have to stream a song 134 times on Spotify to equal 1 download. Three years ago, the ratio was 140-1. Which means Spotify can be expected to pay as well as Nokia in 2054. :)

        Seriously, why aren’t we talking about Google Play instead? It pays almost 10 times more than Spotify…


        Reply
    1. TuneHunter

      Do not waist your time.
      Mr. Pope is no more than propaganda pupet of Dr. Ek.


      Reply
      1. TuneHunter

        His numbers are joke in the first place.
        15 years ago his numbers would be at list 10x stronger and we wouldn’t have to listen to this bragging.
        Mr. Pope would be busy buying real estate in Miami!

        Music is a product, internet is perfect place to sale this type of product and we have to do it. It’s not that complicated.


        Reply
  2. john

    damn that is fucking crazy, good for him.


    Reply
    1. visitor

      this is a short term game, period. music streaming math, if taken to it’s logical conclusion, and scaled all the way out does not work as a sustainable business model.

      good for ron pope, good for him today… but like the internet prophets of a decade ago who said piracy was empowerment, I think we all know better by now.

      http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2014/02/18/profitless

      http://thetrichordist.com/2013/02/08/music-streaming-math-will-it-all-add-up/

      it’s just math folks, it’s just math…


      Reply
      1. GGG

        So why don’t we figure out how to make it work, as opposed to rail against it entirely? You really think the idea of cloud storage is going to go away? Have you paid attention to tech advancements for the last…oh I dunno….entire history of mankind?


        Reply
        1. visitor

          GGG, there’s nothing wrong with music streaming except the economics…

          If you believe people will pay $50 a month for streaming subscriptions let me know. Music has to be monetized like cable/satellite with bundled packages to work. How much do most consumers pay monthly for access to television broadcast programming, that includes advertising? I think it’s probably close to $100 per month, per household.

          People need to get their heads out of a little box called the record business and start looking at the larger content and media distribution platforms and models – which would include windowing and transactional streaming as well as subscription streaming.


          Reply
          1. GGG

            I agree. I think the problem people have with paying for a subscription is that they DO still pay for some DLs. So there’s already going to be a slow build to adapting to streaming, then slowed down more because it’s another thing you have to pay $10 or whatever for, then even slower because 95% of articles you see about streaming is how bad it is.

            I think it will continue to grow slowly for a couple more years until someone (maybe Beats, maybe Deezer, probably not Spotify since they are the worst marketed company I’ve ever seen) tips the scale. That’s where hundreds of millions of people start generating incredible amounts of revenue for artists.


            Reply
          2. Brian

            I agree. A premium cable-type model is the future.


            Reply
  3. Dry Roasted

    Ron says:

    “I’m not going to argue about whether or not streaming canalizes sales; of course it does, and anyone who tries to convince you differently is selling snake oil and magic beans.”

    Who would be “trying to convince you differently” and “selling snake oil and magic beans”? Daniel Ek, the CEO of Spotify:

    “I’d also like to address people who think they’ll gain sales by not being on Spotify. There’s not a shred of data to suggest that. In fact, all the information available points to streaming services helping to drive sales.

    Album unit sales [were] up in the U.S. in 2011, the year Spotify launched, for the first time since 2004. More than a dozen albums which debuted at number one have been available on Spotify at launch.”

    Source: Evolver.fm, Feb. 10, 2012, “Spotify CEO Daniel Ek Talks Royalties, Social and The Future”

    http://evolver.fm/2012/02/10/spotify-ceo-daniel-ek-talks-royalties-social-and-the-future/

    Go check it out before they pull it down Ron!


    Reply
    1. Profits PLS

      $334,636 is revenue. Costs of touring with band, flights, foods, hotels, equipment, and etc. in rich countries like Sweden and Norway are probably $250,000 ++ a year, then taxes and salaries?


      Reply
      1. Ari Herstand

        You forget that he’s MAKING money touring. The “respectable guarantee” he mentioned I guarantee covers all travel and lodging costs. Musicians can not rely solely on download sales or streams. They never did. Musicians make the bulk of their money on the road. Always have.


        Reply
  4. Profits PLS

    That’s for ONE festival. Let’s see finances and P/L, not some vague inflated revenue info otherwise I’m calling B**sh*T


    Reply
    1. GGG

      What’s for one festival? That $334K is for four years of Spotify, he specifically states.


      Reply
  5. David

    Can’t say I had heard of Ron Pope before, so I did a bit of checking. The figures seem kosher, but there’s one noteworthy point to query: he describes himself as an independent artist, but according to Wiki his biggest hit, A Drop In The Ocean, which accounts for about half his Spotify plays, was recorded under contract to Universal. It would be interesting to know how his payout rate from Spotify for that song compares with others which he released independently.

    The big question is how far his case can be generalised? I suspect the answer is: not very far. He seems to be an example of that new phenomenon, an artist who is big on the internet, but little known otherwise. For comparison, I looked up the Spotify artist’s profile for Bjork, who is surely one of the best known independent artists, but she has nowhere near as many Spotify plays as Ron Pope. And most independent artists are probably a long way behind Bjork.


    Reply
    1. GGG

      How is any of this streaming’s fault, though? You can’t blame lack of success of artists on streaming. Just like when people paid $20 for CDs, some artists will make it, many others will fail. I come across artist pages all the time who have substantial numbers ranging from 50K Facebook fans to 1M+, and I’ll have never heard their name uttered once. It’s the beauty of the internet, not sure why so many look down at people like Ron. Like being successful but not a world famous household name somehow doesn’t or shouldn’t count.


      Reply
      1. David

        My point is that if independent artists have to rely on streaming as their main source of income, the bar to ‘making it’ (by which I mean making a living, not a fortune), is much higher than if they can sell CDs or downloads. To make a living from selling albums, you need to sell tens of thousands. To make a living from streams you need tens of millions. And that just isn’t as easy as stories like this one imply. Let’s take another example: Arcade Fire. By any reckoning Arcade Fire are one of the best and most popular independent acts in the world (I haven’t checked precisely how independent they are, but for the present purpose that doesn’t matter), but judging by their Spotify artist profile they get fewer plays than Pope. Which is just plain weird.


        Reply
        1. GGG

          Right, as payouts and number of people streaming stands right now, I agree. However, at some point I’m assuming (hoping) numbers get high enough that Spotify pays out higher, or a company like Beats or Deezer does everything better and ousts Spotify. Which would mean higher number of people streaming.

          But we are also in the midst of a split revenue era until the streaming numbers tip the scale. These arguments seem to assume that he sells so little albums they can be completely ignored. I’m assuming he’s sold in five figures. So that $334K is not his only money made off recorded music, it’s Spotify alone! Not even Youtube, etc.

          Also, according to Ron his 57M plays are since 2010. Arcade Fire’s “top ten” songs alone are at about 41M by some quick estimated math. And as I’ve found out before, the algorithm for those top ten tracks are not the most played overall. Popularity based on time has an impact, so it’s entirely possible they have a few songs well past their top one of 10M.


          Reply
          1. A Regular Here

            Thank you, GGG. You’ve provided another data point with your estimate of 41m Spotify plays for Arcade Fire. Given their top 50 paid downloads, it is nonsensical for Arcade Fire and Ron Pope to be in the same ballpark. Ron Pope can’t even break the top 1000 in paid downloads!

            Looking at streaming and paid downloads over a longer period time helps to take out the “goosing” of paid downloads to achieve a temporary high chart position.

            But labels paying for downloads to increase chart position does not directly hurt other labels and artists.
            Having click farms does. The click farmers help themselves to great big slices of the royalty pie leaving less for everyone else. These figures STINK of fraud. Pope may not even be involved but he can’t possibly be unaware of the disconnect.


            Reply
            1. GGG

              It’s not 41M total, it’s 41M from ten tracks. 57M is Ron’s lifetime streams. 41M is the top ten Arcade Fire we can see numbers for. They have far, far more than 41M streams.

              Not to mention, I think Arcade Fire’s reach is exaggerated. Sure, they can headline arenas in a few of the biggest music markets in the country, but I think the blog love they get makes them look a lot more popular than they are. Though, that’s beside the point.


              Reply
    2. Ari Herstand

      Actually, if you see his most played song on Spotify is A Drop In The Ocean from his 2008 album (2 years before he signed with Universal). Knowing Ron and his story very well, he built up his following in the Myspace era – before Universal. Universal actually did virtually nothing for him. He left them very shortly after signing.


      Reply
      1. David

        Fair enough. Looking at Wiki again, he wrote and recorded the song before he signed to Universal, but it was released as a single under his Universal contract. I don’t know who has the copyright.


        Reply
        1. Ari Herstand

          Ron got all the rights back. His ties are cut completely from Universal. They don’t own or control any of his career.


          Reply
  6. A Regular Here

    Something is really fishy here. OK, certain artists do better in specific territories but Ron’s paid download numbers in the USA,, though respectable for an indie artist, hint at 1% of his self reported Spotify numbers.

    The Swedish festivals can indeed be very generous with their guarantees. I have an act that earns pennies from Spotify in Sweden yet pulled down a 3000 euro fee for a 30 minute festival set.

    So I think someone is playing favourites here.


    Reply
    1. David

      I thought it was fishy too, but as I said, on checking it out, the figures look kosher. ‘A Drop In The Ocean’ has about 30 million plays on YouTube, which has no connection with Spotify. It’s baffling. I have no idea why that song gets so many plays. I would put it in the broad category of ‘not terrible’. But who am I to judge? I also have no idea why Taylor Swift is so popular, apart from having really good legs.


      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        His kind of music is really popular with the ladies. I’m assuming you have a penis and are a heterosexual, therefore you are probably not his main market.


        Reply
      2. A Regular Here

        David,

        It looks even worse, actually.

        He was claiming these Spotify figures was all down to his extraordinary popularity in Scandinavia. Well, YouTube is hardly used at all in that region, yet he has these massive numbers. His paid download numbers would suggest maybe a million spinner on YouTube not 31 million plays of one song.

        There is indeed a connection between Spotify and YouTube. They are both vulnerable to click farms!


        Reply
  7. Anonymous

    “I’ve had over 57 million plays and they’ve paid me out $334,636″

    Yeah, it’s sad. But why didn’t you force your fans to buy instead?

    9 out of 10 would’ve said f*** you and stolen your work, but the last 10% would have visited iTunes.

    Result: $4,000,000 for you…


    Reply
    1. A Regular Here

      For the moment, paid downloads still co-exist with streaming in the U.S. market. So called “internet hits” still lead to paid downloads in the USA. Pope’s repertoire is as distributed as any on the ‘net.

      He must know his Spotify income bears no relation to his peers’ experiences.


      Reply
    2. DUDE

      “Result: $4,000,000 for you…”

      Your math is a little fuzzy here bro, we’re talking 57 million TRACK PLAYS on Spotify and you’re assuming that a) each one of those track plays came from a different person and b) that 10% of those people who streamed one track one time each would go on to buy an entire album from iTunes at 10 dollars a head if the music were unavailable on Spotify

      That seems highly unlikely to me.


      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        “Your math is a little fuzzy here bro”

        Nope, it’s right on the money. :)

        What I’m saying is that 10% will buy the track — not an album — if they can’t stream it for free.

        And iTunes pays $4m for 5.7m tracks. I know it sounds like a lot compared to Spotify, but it’s the truth…


        Reply
        1. Nick

          But 1 stream doesn’t = 1 person, it could be more like 25 streams = 1 person, which would be about 2.3 million people. This means if 10% of them buy 1 track it’d be $230,000. Keep in mind also that those 25 streams per person can be listening to one track multiple times.


          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            The average fan doesn’t stream the same song 25 times.

            And Mr. Pope would have made twice as much if he had stayed away from Spotify and as few as 2% had bought the tracks instead.

            Now, nobody thinks the cannibalizing rate is that low.

            Also bear in mind that Mr. Pope’s deal is extremely favorable. You usually have to stream a song 140 times to match 1 sold iTunes track.


            Reply
            1. Anonymous

              I just found some very interesting numbers:

              The new iTunes-Spotify ratio is not 1-140, as I said in the post above, but 1-134 as of February 1, 2014, according to The Trichordist.

              But the mindblowing part is that the iTunes-Google Play ratio is 1 to — wait for it — 15!


              Reply
            2. Nick

              I’m not saying they stream the same 25 tracks, I’m saying each fan might stream 25 tracks some of those 25 streams would be repeat streams. And there’s no way they would buy every track they streamed on spotify if it weren’t avalible in spotify. That’s unrealistic thinking. Some people may listen to the entire catalog on spotify to find that they only like 4-5 songs, which means they’ve streamed a bunch of songs they wouldn’t have otherwise bought anyway.


              Reply
              1. Anonymous

                Unless you are Skrillex or deadmau5 if you are a EDM artist Spotify is the best way to make money right now.


                Reply
                1. Anonymous

                  Nonsense, iTunes pays 134 times more.

                  Even YouTube pays more, not per spin but because of their size. Nobody knows Spotify, while everybody knows and uses YouTube.


                  Reply
                  1. Danwriter

                    But (relatively, virtually) nobody buys EDM recordings.


                    Reply
            3. johnakline

              I listen to the same tracks dozens of times on Spotify. Why would you say that people don’t listen to the same tracks over and over again? Of course they do.


              Reply
        2. Anonymous

          On a typical day I stream 120+ tracks…


          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            …so you’re not average…


            Reply
        3. DUDE

          OOPS, speaking of fuzzy math that was pretty dumb

          Converting 10% of your streams into track sales is still pure fantasy though dude, whered you come up with that ratio? Im genuinely curious as to how you think you could achieve that


          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            Nobody knows the exact ratio, we all have to rely on our experiences here.

            Which is why I added the fact that Mr. Pope would have made twice as much if he had stayed away from Spotify and as few as 2% felt compelled to buy his tracks instead.

            I’m in no way religious about streaming. I use YouTube because it makes sense. And I’m debating whether or not I should use Google Play; a 1-15 iTunes-Google Play ratio is definitely in the ballpark. I would also use Spotify if it made sense. It just doesn’t.


            Reply
            1. DUDE

              Even 2% seems optimistic dude, you’re still operating on the assumption that each of those streams represents a potential buyer which is obviously not the case since most people will give artists they like more than just one play.

              Assuming for the sake of argument that every 10 streams represent 1 listener/potential buyer, you’d actually have to convert 20% of streamers to buyers to make twice as much as Spotify is paying. 10% (your original guess) would get you ~$400,000 which is not *that* much better than the $334,000 Spotify paid.

              Granted it would still be better not to stream based on those assumptions if only marginally, but converting 10% of a fanbase thats only listening to your music 10 times and then never coming back to it – hardly superfans, thats less than an hours’ worth of tunes – into buyers seems wildly optimistic to me, and just a tiny bit less rosy than that puts your increased sales on par with Spotify money. Tone the optimism down a little more and you’re actually worse off not putting your music up on Spotify.

              Id give this one some more consideration if I were you dude


              Reply
    3. PiratesWinLOL

      9 out of 10 would have said f*** you and forgot about him and his concerts too. It is not like the supply-demand situation allows for anyone to force the consumer to do anything. Seriously, I don’t think the vast majority of young people would even know how to download a legal MP3 or how to play such a file from the cellphone. Very few would go through such nonsens, when you can just click and listen to the next great artist.


      Reply
  8. peeps

    interested to know which service Ron uses to get music onto spotify etc?


    Reply
  9. River Waters

    There are always going to be successes. The point, I think, is not the exception, but the rule. Find 100 with similar stories, rather than just one, and I may become a believer.

    I do not think you will find many current artists (who never or rarely recorded on a major label) in the jazz, folk, classical genres who see success like this.


    Reply
  10. David

    Just to reinforce how untypical Ron Pope is, two of the best known and most successful ‘indie genre’ artists are Foals and Beck, but from the figures on their Spotify artist profiles they are less streamed than Pope!

    Heck, we can even look at a bona fide rock giant: Bruce Springsteen. None of his songs have more than 16 million cumulative plays, and that includes Born to Run, Dancing in the Dark, and Born in the USA. Overall, he has more total plays than Pope, but not by a massive amount.

    So all you need to do to make a decent living from Spotify (after paying your expenses) is to be nearly as successful as Bruce Springsteen. Piece of cake.


    Reply
    1. jw

      I think this comment is very misleading. Springsteen & Beck’s fans aren’t listening to them on Spotify, primarily. Spotify is very much a tertiary revenue stream for them… I’m assuming most fans of either of those two acts already own cds or mp3s, & have pre-existing listening habits that they haven’t broken yet. Ron Pope, on the other hand, is a newer artist whose fans have no pre-existing listening habits, & I’m assuming his demographic skews younger, so a much larger percentage of his listenership are using Spotify. Specifically, artists who are discovered on Spotify are going to have more streams, proportionately. And I don’t think very many people are discovering Beck or Springsteen on Spotify.

      If Springsteen’s fanbase was listening to his music on Spotify proportionately to Ron Pope’s fanbase, his numbers would be astronomical, as would be the payouts. And ultimately, that’s the goal of these streaming sites. Artists like Springsteen actually stand to gain the most from the mainstream adoption of streaming, because thousands & thousands of folks are going to listen to Born To Run today on CD or mp3, for which they’ve assumedly already paid for, but none of that listening is monetized.


      Reply
      1. David

        Fair points about Springsteen and Beck, but what about Foals? An artist of exactly the same vintage as Pope.

        Foals’ figures on Spotify are not terrible, buth I don’t know what percentage of the payout they get, and split among five band members it won’t go very far.


        Reply
        1. jw

          What about Foals? You think they’re recouped?


          Reply
  11. Anonx

    The highest streamed track on Spotify is nearing 200 million streams.

    “Yeah, it’s sad. But why didn’t you force your fans to buy instead?

    9 out of 10 would’ve said f*** you and stolen your work, but the last 10% would have visited iTunes.

    Result: $16,000,000 for you…”

    FOR JUST ONE SONG.


    Reply
    1. Casey

      Except you completely pulled that statistic out of thin air and have absolutely no facts to back it.


      Reply
  12. FarePlay

    Here they come. Interesting how Spotify handled their pr release for their IPO. Took an ad out for an IPO Champion.

    Now does anyone really believe that Spotify doesn’t have the connections through Goldman Sachs and Silicon Valley to find the “guy”. Let’s get the back room rumors started without publishing a timeline.

    Spotify is seriously in need of a cash infusion without giving away more chunks of equity. Now, while Ari is saying that he doesn’t get hard dollar compensation from Spotify, i would think they’re other “benefits” to be gained by being a prolific supporter of the service.

    Can the Spotify model work for some? Absolutely. They’re just not so many.

    The bigger question, and one that Ari is not qualified to address, is can Spotify be profitable and if not why all the “disruption” to an already fragile industry and musicians who just want to be great players and not social media experts.

    My concern with Ari is not whether he is compensated, but how often he writes about it.


    Reply
  13. Yeah

    We always had sellout rock musicians that’s why the rap industry was born.
    Keep singing about your bullshit.


    Reply
    1. Esol Esek

      Yeah, noone in rap is a sell-out, just like the president isn’t. Wow, keep delusion alive, angry young man.


      Reply
  14. Willis

    Numbers are only what you report. Did you know that 68% of statistics are incorrect?


    Reply
  15. tiniws

    What’s being argued here?

    The music business is undeniably changed. It’s not going back. Leverage every vertical possible and try to make a living. There’s nothing new under the sun, folks. New technology, same game.

    Reading the discussion above, I see posters making all kinds of assumptions based on a variety of statistics numbers: Sell or stream? iTunes or Spotify? Statistics can prove any hypothesis according to the report’s aim.

    Stop relying on numbers and get out there and do what you love. Either side can be argued. History seems to favor the progressive approach rather than conservative. We all feel the sting now (i.e., the biz’s wholesale resistance in the early 2000’s to incorporate new technologies).

    Is Spotify God’s gift to the music biz? Probably not. Is streaming an integral technology in the music biz’s new landscape? Possibly, but who cares? There’s money there, however arguably negligible it may be. Go out and get it.

    Good for Mr. Pope for making some money in this volatile market. He seems to be taking advantage of a full range of possibilities and revenue streams. Each of these feed into the other. Chicken or egg: Who cares?

    Stop complaining and start hustling.

    And if you’re still sore, try to change the policy surrounding copyright. Don’t attack the businesses or artists when they operate within their bounds.


    Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Nice, but how the fuck is getting paid for radio airplay going to help the average musician? Seriously, 99% of the stuff on the airwaves is major label owned music.


        Reply
        1. Sucks for the Songwriters

          It’s worth noting that in countries that pay both performers and songwriters for radio airplay, songwriters get a far smaller royalty then they do in the USA. That’s all that’s going to happen if performers start getting radio royalties.


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    1. cjhoffmn

      What’s being argued here is whether this change is a good one and something musicians should support. Distribution channels change – it is true, but that doesn’t mean you have to supply that channel. Walmart and Macy’s both distribute a giant amount of product, but become a vendor to them often puts you out of business because they can get away with paying very low prices. Awareness can lead to different behavior of suppliers – supplying them product is not a good idea for an independent producer of product.

      This is similar – a new, lower price, high volume distribution channel has opened up, and it has a big future. Should undeveloped, up and coming acts (1) believe it will lead to profits (2) support it (3) supply it? Those are three relevant questions.

      I massively applaud Ron for this. I do wonder though what the history of “blowing up on MySpace” is like compared with getting popular on Spotify today. In any business, there will be winners, losers, and the odds of being either. There will always be winners despite bad odds, just not many of them, and in general, what happened for them is often not able to replicated. I think its important to discuss that openly, because it helps prevent people from making decisions that lead to losses.

      I’m really curious:
      How did he “blow-up” on Myspace?
      How many Social Media followers did Ron have when he moved his library onto Spotify?
      How did he market to drive people to discover his tracks out there?
      How did he get recognized?
      How did he support new launches?
      How are things different today than when he first got started?

      While I agree with you tiniws – the business has changed. We can’t assume old methods are applicable, yet, as the supply side of the equation, producers / labels / musicians have a direct choice as to whether to support the changes. What’s being debated is if this change makes sense, and whether there are better ways that lead to longer run sustainable profits.

      Ron – what you’ve done is awesome and commendable. Hustle, grit, and determination are always needed, and I guess you have all three! To your point – you were willing to cannibalize your own stream sales because you found a way to increase your demand enough to make a great income – especially for a musician.

      Thinking about what you did to come into Spotify with your fanbase – would it work today?

      Great stuff.


      Reply
  16. johnny

    Half a cent per play…. I guess you can make it up in volume!


    Reply
    1. Anonymous

      Volume? Spotify delivers less than 3% of all streaming in the US. And they still lose money…


      Reply
  17. Nasa

    So here’s the thing, and this is being proven over and over by the modern music industry. Services like Spotify serve the MAJOR LABELS really well. They do now and they will in the future. Because a major label can pump up an artist like Ron Pope (see comment above laying out how his biggest hit was on Universal) and that can then boost streams. I have no doubt that artists like Shakira can make small fortunes on Spotify. Artists like that have been bolstered by major label money for years around the world.

    The question is this. Why do you listen to music? Do you listen to it based solely on who’s music is most popular? Because if that’s the case, you’ll be a kool aid drinker for Spotify. It works great for that function. Only the “right” people get paid, IE the folks on majors or that work with majors.

    If the answer is “I listen to music to hear new, interesting and creative things”, then Spotify is a failing proposition. It doesn’t serve that. Artists that are independent now can’t grow through a stream only system. It would be like forcing all indie artists across all spectrums and success levels to rely on commercial radio to be heard.

    Do you like Jazz? Do you like Experimental Hip-Hop? Do you like Stoner Rock? Do you like any genre or artist that ISNT playing HUGE festivals due to a major label single like this guy? Well, say goodbye to them. Because even though Spotify has lots of diverse music to offer, the math doesn’t add up for artists not name Ron Pope. If Ron Pope was a Jazz musician would we even be having this conversation? NO.

    And you can’t sum that up to “well, just be more successful then”, because if that’s the case we might as well all make it our goal to get on American Idol and never do anything creative again as a culture. That’s where this is going, eventually the major label influence will be so strong within the streaming system that you won’t even hear indie artists on them anymore. Look what happened to Emusic. It’s coming and the whole time you’ll be preaching about how much you think you’re helping indie artists.

    Keep that kind of help, thanks.


    Reply
    1. Ari Herstand

      I need to disprove the “Ron’s biggest hit was with Universal” false statement that keeps getting repeated. I know Ron and his story very well. We toured together. I’ve known him since 2008. He blew up on Myspace first (with his biggest song “A Drop In The Ocean”) 2 years before Universal. He re-recorded the song with them and they kind of put it out, but didn’t do anything for him. No real radio. No marketing push.

      As you can see on Spotify, his #1 song was put out independently in 2008. Two years before his very short deal with Universal.

      So, I know these inferences are easier to prove your point, I have to step in and explain the real situation. Fact of the matter is, he built his fanbase entirely on his own. No label.

      Instead of picking and choosing half-stories to prove your point, why not step back and get inspired by an independent artist who streaming actually works for?


      Reply
      1. Carlos

        Fact of the matter is, he built his fanbase entirely on his own. No label.

        Except that one little part where he made a deal with the biggest label in the world Ari? Seriously, Ron doesn’t want to talk about what UMG might have done for him because that makes his story of “I made it on my own!” less credible or interesting. So was there NO radio play, NO marketing, NO promo money at all coming from Universal then? Do you even know? Until you answer that this inconvenient truth which was raised in the discussion NOT the article at all will fester.


        Reply
        1. Ari Herstand

          Pretty much. I can honestly tell you that Ron did not gain fans from UMG. He had a huge fanbase before UMG. He was always top 3 on unsigned charts on Myspace before UMG. UMG put out two singles. They did nothing. They dropped him. Just like 98% of all the artists major labels sign. The difference is the majority of that 98% go on to do nothing.

          Believe what you will. I know his story. I’m not trying to manipulate the truth to prove a point.


          Reply
          1. FarePlay

            I do find it interesting that with all the prolific posting from Ari, that I haven’t heard him,or really anyone on this blog, talk about the I Repect Music petition, other than a few detractors.

            I also find it fascinating that while the corporate record/music companies are held in contempt, as in most cases they should be, few of the people cast the tech industry in a similar light as profiteers more interested in creating wealth, than supporting the very art form they build their businesses on.


            Reply
            1. Esol Esek

              You’re not listening, then. Writers, photographers, painters, designers, ALL content creators are calling out Google, Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Getty, iStock, Huffpost, Newscorp, Reuters etc etc etc. Silicon Valley is the enemy, and people are setting up legal entities to attack their content theft policies.


              Reply
    2. JTVDigital

      Just be more successful…and stop complaining :-)

      Seriously, what is your point? That ‘niche music’ sells less than mainstream / pop? I think we all get that already, Spotify or not Spotify.

      Music has never been as diverse as today in genres, sub-genres, new trends…etc.

      Do you really think artists will stop creating new music / genres because of Spotify’s low payouts?


      Reply
  18. how much from teaching

    zoe keating (who posted her numbers above) i’ve heard of a few times via the ‘net… and her numbers i believe (see her spreadsheet). for some reason Pope’s numbers feel gamed; it just seems so far outside the curve that i can’t help but wonder (and feel gulitly for it) it there was some sort of paid-for-views/botviews, like how youtube had to reset views a year or so ago because all the majors had tricked the system… it just doesn’t compute.


    Reply
    1. Ari Herstand

      I think ya’ll just need to accept that Ron Pope is wildly popular (regardless if you’ve heard of him or not). Did you watch the video of the thousands singing along to him? He’s totally independent. A friend of mine. He didn’t game any of his numbers. His Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram interaction numbers check out.

      Again, we toured together. I saw his hard core fanbase first hand. Just because he’s not on the radio doesn’t mean he can’t be popular. I’m very confused as to what everyone’s argument is. Is everyone so caught up in the old system that they just can’t fathom an independent artist actually doing BETTER than major label artists? Look at all the (independent) YouTube stars out there KILLING IT. Like Boyce Avenue, Lindsey Stirling and the bunch.


      Reply
      1. A Regular Here

        “think ya’ll just need to accept that Ron Pope is wildly popular”, so says Ari. Much as we should accept the planted reviews for Ari’s own poorly selling releases, Ari’s hyping of his acting “co-starring” credits (just how many lines did you have, Ari?).

        Digital Music News should be more than a vehicle for hype, hidden agendas and mutual back scratching.

        As a counterpoint, Zoe Keating’s contributions are refreshingly candid and instructive. Ari, you could learn a thing or 2 while you strive for success.


        Reply
  19. JTVDigital

    “…what I’m seeing is a marked increase in revenue because so much of my music is now being consumed by so many people. I’d argue that many of these people wouldn’t have taken the opportunity to listen to me in the first place if they didn’t have the option to check me out on Spotify without any initial monetary commitment”

    That is the most important part of the interview.


    Reply
    1. Ari Herstand

      Absolutely!


      Reply
  20. Steven Cravis

    I like how Spotify sends out an email with a big album cover to everyone who follows that artist, when their new singles or albums are released on Spotify.
    Steven Cravis (On Spotify)


    Reply

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