The Typical Artist Makes More Than 80% of Recording Revenues from Downloads

For all the arguing over streaming income, there’s this.

According to stats just shared by CD Baby with Digital Music News, the typical artist makes more than 82 percent of their revenue from paid downloads, with CDs accounting for more than 11 percent.  That leaves streaming revenues – including Spotify – with a scant 6.5 percent contribution.

CD Baby, one of the largest direct-to-fan distributors, shuttles music to a broad range of endpoints that include iTunes, Spotify, Facebook, Amazon MP3, Google Play, and even YouTube through synch catalogs like Rumblefish.  That’s just the start of a menu that also includes discs, and CD Baby president Brian Felsen clarified that these are aggregated figures that tend to mask considerable variation between different artists.  “Artist money is all over the place,” Felsen noted.  “Some make it exclusively from CDs, some from downloads, it depends on artist and genre.”

That said, this is what happens when you pool everything together from all CD Baby artists, and average it out for the typical artist.

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We’re not sure of the year-over-year streaming changes, though Felsen noted that download revenues are currently increasing by 21 percent, with CDs climbing 1 percent since last year.  That could be a sign of physical bottoming, though Felsen also pointed to a number of business improvements and partnerships.  “I definitely am able to attribute the CD increase to our deal with Alliance [Entertainment], improvements in processes with Amazon, and new international retail partnerships,” Felsen continued.

The company is undoubtedly invested in the CD as a format, given that its parent is Discmakers.  That said, the purchase of CD Baby was undoubtedly motivated by the continued erosion of CDs, and the latest staying power can only last so long.

Digging deeper into the digital picture, here’s a breakdown of various online and mobile outlets.  This was shared with us by CD Baby in February of this year, so we’re guessing that Spotify has probably notched some meaningful gains since then.


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3 Responses

  1. Jabsco

    How can this info graphic not include YouTube stream revenue?

    • Casey

      I am going to guess CD Baby doesn’t make anything from Youtube?

      • Central Scrutinizer

        CD baby isn’t in the streaming business either. This fact must be taken into consideration when judging the veracity of the data.

        Also, Zune?!?