Portishead Gets 34 Million Streams. Portishead Makes $2,589…

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£1,700 = $2,589 US.

57 Responses

  1. Anonymous

    And thank you Tidal for letting us download all the songs we like.

    No need to buy music anymore.

    • David

      I don’t use Tidal, but what gives you the idea it allows users to download music any more than most other streaming services, notably Spotify? Spotify premium subscribers can play previously cached tracks when offline, but of course the number of plays is counted towards Spotify’s payments to rights-holders. I assume Tidal is the same. Do you know otherwise?

      • Anonymous

        It’s no surprise that Spotify doesn’t want you to buy music.

        Same thing with Google’s Music Key: Its download feature is one of the reasons we need a YouTube alternative: Download sales is the most important income source for recording artists today, and people just don’t buy songs they already got.

        Russia’s huge social network VKontakte is also notorious for its download option. Here’s what the Hollywood Reporter said this week:

        “Unlike Facebook, VKontakte has My Music and My Videos sections, in which a user can save music tracks and videos uploaded by other users. While immensely popular with younger users, that option has enraged rights holders.”

        Again, it’s no surprise that big anti-copyright corporations like Google, Spotify and VKontakte want you to stop buying songs.

        But Tidal is owned by artists!

        Why don’t they want musicians to sell music?

        It’s even one of their biggest selling points. Here’s what they say:

        🙁 “you can download content of your choosing to your device, and play it” 🙁

        That’s not streaming. That’s a record store. Buy everything you want for $10/month — and don’t ever use iTunes again.

        • DavidB

          So I take it you agree that Tidal’s system is not basically different from Spotify’s?

          And of course I agree that with offline streaming you don’t *need* to buy a download, but I don’t see anything inherently wrong or ‘anti-artist’ in that. It all comes down to the question of revenue. Tidal’s revenue per user promises to be much higher than Spotify’s, because there is no free option.

          BTW, with streaming services the distinction between ‘online’ and ‘offline’ is blurred. When you stream a track from Spotify, and presumably some other services, it is cached on your device (subject to a storage limit), then if you ‘stream’ it again it is played from the cache, even if you think you are ‘online’. This is more efficient for both the user and the service, as it reduces bandwidth usage and costs.

          • Anonymous

            “Don’t shoot the technology messenger because that is a train that will keep developing”

            In my daily work, I use more technology than your average techie — and I have done so for years — so let’s not turn this into a tech discussion.

            And you’re completely ignoring the fact that professional songwriters and recording artists make their living from download sales — not streaming! Check the numbers.

            So the very notion that an artist-owned streaming service sells downloads for one cent a pop is absurd.

            However, you’re spot on here:

            “the real pirates who are the ISP’s. The ISPs have hid behind the Safe Harbor defense provided by the current Copyright Act.”

            You can’t ignore individual pirates — uploaders or downloaders — and it would be unthinkable to release a record today without the assistance of one or more anti-piracy services. But the ISPs are indeed the real pirates.

            And yes, we do need to fix that.

          • Anonymous

            “So I take it you agree that Tidal’s system is not basically different from Spotify’s?”

            But of course — and that’s really the point, isn’t it?

            Let’s see, everybody in the industry hates Spotify so why don’t we launch a new… Spotify?

            Spotify was created by a pirate, David. Tidal was created by artists. Don’t you think we should expect something else?

          • GGG

            I mean, sure, we should, but DLs were crashing before streaming, so it’s kind of silly to keep pushing back against streaming, as opposed to figuring out how to bring in more money from it. Streaming is technologically easy now. You don’t think some pirate streaming service would pop up and lure in users if Spotify or Deezer or Tidal didn’t exist? Hell, we already had/have them with the likes of Grooveshark and Soundcloud.

          • Anonymous

            “it’s kind of silly to keep pushing back against streaming”

            Yeah but it ain’t streaming, GGG.

            Tidal sells unlimited downloads for $10/month.

            It was a dealbreaker when Music Key did it, and it’s a dealbreaker now.

            “as opposed to figuring out how to bring in more money from it”

            No argument there, but I’m so not interested in new copies of old models that didn’t work. I’m interested in new stuff.

          • Anonymous

            Not saying that it is, but it’s what I’ve got until something better (a YouTube/Patreon/Twitter/iTunes/Netflix-combo) comes along.

          • Patriq

            “Tidal was created by artists”.

            Sorry, lad, Tidal was created by the Swedish-Norwegian company Aspiro, which has been maintaining a fairly popular streaming service in Norway called Wimp. Aspiro has a long history in different mobile services, and has among other things provided ringtone and mastertone ring signals from mobile phones.

            Jay-Z & co bought Aspiro along with Tidal when it was already launched as the hifi alternative of Wimp last Fall. Tidal was not created by Jay-Z.

            Get your facts straight, please!

    • Universal Indie Records

      You should really investigate things more before you go about posting misinformation and this is the SECOND time I’ve seen you post the same nonsense.

      Do you understand the concept of offline downloads? If not let me explain.

      Basically Tidal lets you download songs to your device so that you may listen to them without having to use your data plan. These are not like mp3 downloads where you can burn cds, save them to your hard drive etc.

      These are tied to your subscription and if you do not pay your bill, you will not be able to utilize those downloads. So basically, it works just like streaming… except offline. You ARE NOT able to utilize these downloads if your bill is not paid.

      Tidal is not the only one to do this. Beats Music does this as well. I can speak for any other service as I don’t use the others.

      • Anonymous

        Here’s how it works:

        Tidal is not a streaming service. Tidal is a record store.

        And you can buy anything you want — songs or videos –for $10/month.

        But there’s a catch:

        Tidal only pays the artists approx 1 cent per sold track. That’s 69 cents less than what the artist gets from iTunes for the exact same song.

        And I’m sure you can understand why an artist can’t sell a song for a cent. Contrary to common belief on these pages, professional songwriters and recording artists make their living from download sales, not streaming. Check the numbers.

        • There is something...

          For someone pretending to work in tech, you don’t understand a sh*t about how it works…

          Every time you play a song downloaded in your computer / phone, it generates A PAYMENT to the rightsholder, just like online streaming. That’s why you HAVE TO PAY a monthly fee to be able to play your downloaded songs.

          When you buy a song on iTunes, it generates ONE and only ONE payment to the rightsholder. If you play the song a thousand times, it doesn’t matter, you’ll never pay again.

          Now, do you finally understand how it works ? PLEASE STOP BOTHERING US WITH YOUR BS !

          Thanks !

          • Bandit

            “If you play the song a thousand times…” how much do you get paid from streaming services if the song is played a thousand times? Is it more than the one time sale?

            Just asking cuz I’m not good at math

          • Anonymous

            “how much do you get paid from streaming services”

            Streaming services usually pays between 1/100 to 1/1000 of 1 download sale. About 50% of the users listen to a song less than 1 time (i.e. they only hear a few seconds), and the rest typically listen to a song 15-20 times.

            So it’s a seriously bad deal for the artist.

          • Anonymous

            “For someone pretending to work in tech”

            Come again? 🙂 I’d rather put a fire out with my face.

            I make music. Which means that technology is deeply and intimately integrated in every single thing I do — from composition to performance, production, distribution, marketing and beyond.

            And you don’t even begin to understand the basics:

            1) Professional songwriters and recording artists make most of their money from iTunes sales, and
            2) Tidal customers — 770,000, so far — don’t buy songs from iTunes or similar stores when they can download everything they want for $10/month.

            Except my stuff, haha.

          • John Smith

            1) Aside from the fact that songwriters/artists can have several other income streams, what does it help that they potentially could earn more on CD sales and iTunes downloads when those kind of sales are dwindling due to piracy and/or a are not happening at all ? Even the download-market is far from the size the music market had been back in the heyday of the LP and CD. Owning music in the sense of keeping a physical product and/or having a paid-for digital file on your device is just not popular anymore (for various reasons), and the music industry should be happy that with streaming there’s a new form of music consumption on the rise that has the potential to generate revenue streams where there haven’t been any in the recent past.

            2) This has been explained several times to you: there’s a significant difference in the “download” you are meaning – which is a digital file one can acquire (the digital equivalent of CD or Single), and the streaming platform’s special feature which is usually labelled as a “tethered download”: a download that is conditional on the user continuously paying the subscription fee. Regardless of which: in order to have access to a certain song/album the user needs to pay. He can do so by either (digitally) buying this song/album, and/or by subscribing to a streaming platform. Both alternatives are better for the songwriter/artist than any pirated song/album. Of course the perfect scenario would be that anyone who likes to listen to a certain song/album would buy it for full price – but that ain’t gonna happen.

          • Anonymous

            “they potentially could earn more on CD sales and iTunes downloads”

            No no no — I’m not talking about what artists potentially could earn.

            I’m telling you — and this is a fact, not an opinion — that professional songwriters and recording artists in the real world make the vast majority of their income from download sales, not streaming. Again, check the numbers.

            “a download that is conditional on the user continuously paying the subscription fee”

            But of course. Again:

            Tidal is a record store where you can buy anything you want — songs or videos — for $10/month.

            No need to buy iTunes songs ever again.

          • John Smith

            Of course streaming income is ridiculously low for any artist compared to download sales; but that’s due to the fact that streaming is still in its infancy. This will change when (soon) paying subscriber numbers are rising and when the payout mechanics/PRO-rates are being overhauled (probably not so soon).

            As soon as you cancel your Tidal-subscription you will lose all your Tidal-downloads. You will then need to download them from a download store, or re-subscribe to a streaming platform. Either way you will need to pay for it, whereas one could theoretically pirate EVERY song for free for $$ZERO – with no payout to any artist whatsoever.

            There are many reasons to not subscribe to a streaming platform anyway, so there will still be enough people actually buying/downloading music.

  2. JJ Fad

    ok, those numbers suck, and I am a HUGE fan of Geoff’s, but how about he discloses what kind of advance he got from UMG, which gave them the right to sell his music so cheaply?

    The royalties on streaming are indeed terrible now, but I don’t know if ANYONE is happy about it. I think every stakeholder is hoping they improve over time.

    • Me2

      Captain Torrent is worth over 400m, but I guess money can’t buy happiness 🙂

  3. so

    You bring up a good point. The band is probably unrecouped on the artist side based on the advance from the label, so the only streaming rates he is seeing and reporting are publishing side (and may even be split there before the money gets to him).

    • @¶,*ƒƒƒ&™

      And no matter what streaming service you are using, then the songwriting royalty will be the same paltry .0006037 portions of a dollar per stream when paid through BMI or ASCAP.

    • DavidB

      That’s conceivable, but not likely. Portishead were very popular in their day. Their first album sold over 1 million copies in the UK and US alone, and their second was even more successful chart-wise (though there are no sales numbers in the Wiki article.) If these are ‘unrecouped’, what isn’t?

      • Jeff Robinson

        Selling a million records might put a band on the precipice of recouping. Most acts needs to 2 hit singles at radio to get sales numbers of 1 million records sold. Providing that no auspicious activity took place creating that 1 million sales number. Remember, some mom and pop retailers were for sale to create ‘activity’ for a band. We’ve all heard stories about this, Record company X pays retail chain to falsify sales numbers to show more activity than the band was actually receiving. Sort of like the ‘paper-add’ at radio where a station reports a spin of a song, but never ever plays it.

  4. Anonymous

    Weird to call out Apple since they don’t currently stream music and Portishead probably made quite a bit of money of sales from iTunes over the years…

    • so

      It’s probably iTunes Radio and iTunes Match that he’s quoting.

  5. Albert Shanker

    Thank goodness cloud based music libraries ,stored in the cache on your mobile device will replace streaming technology in the not to distant future.. Writers will still be screwed ,but at least non creative venture capitalists and no talents like Dre and Z will lose their rip off investments.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      It’s pretty interesting to think of what comes after this generation of streaming. And, if any of it can be properly monetized. Apple seemed to be onto something with iCloud, but Spotify has been taking the lead pretty firmly. What happens when storage, and delivery bandwidth, or less challenges and more afterthoughts?

  6. Adam

    They sold their music to UMG. UMG therefore has the right to sell it at any price they wish.

    • steveh

      You are being grossly unfair.

      Many or most artists on record deals are perfectly capable of looking at a royalty statement and seeing, for CDs for example,:- Units sold = X Royalty Base Price = $Y Royalty rate = Z% Earnings = X x Y x Z

      But then 34 million streams for $2500 – you what mate? Something has to be wrong here…. It can’t just be the record comapany, because the general accounting for CDs and iTunes etc seems more or less par for the course. But for streaming it is most definitely not, so somewhere along the line it has to be the fault of the general streaming artist income model. It’s just not working.

      And so you find that very few artists are endorsing Spotify etc. Look at their websites or Facebook pages – “buy our CDs – buy our merch – buy our download album on iTunes” – but not very much “listen to us on Spotify”. Get the picture?

      • Patriq

        Funny to see how lost you are in the US with regards to streaming. In the Nordic countries where streaming is fairly popular (over 80 % of music compensation comes from streaming in Sweden, 75 % in Norway, about 55 % in Finland) the situation is completely different. Artists are ALSO endorsing streaming services since it’s becoming the way to consume music after radio. Downloads are so yesterday and CDs you can hardly find in stores any longer in Helsinki, Finland.

        So when subscribers catch on, artists will start endorsing.

        And Garrow’s figures are just a big confusion here in Europe. He does not tell if it is performer compensation or songwriter royalties he is talking about, not if it is Youtube or Spotify or something else. And why does he target Apple? Go figure. Since the debate has gone on for some time here (3-4 weeks) Garrow’s statement makes him look somewhat naive… despite the fact that artist compensation should be higher compared to the present situation. That is hardly Spotify’s fault, since artists have made their deals with the labels, and the labels have licensed to Spotify and other streaming services. Artists should renegotiate their contracts.

        • steveh

          Your point about the Nordic countries is old and out of date.

          They are small and a-typical.

          What is notable is that streaming has not reached anything remotely like the same proportion in the major European territories.

        • steveh

          Oh and I just picked on this, that you said:- “Artists should renegotiate their contracts.

          That’s really a pretty dumb thing to say. In a climate of general falling sales is it not somewhat difficult for artists to renegotiate their contracts. What kind of leverage do they have?

    • DavidB

      Portishead did not sell their music to UMG. They signed up to a small record label which was independent at the time, but later taken over (directly or indirectly) by UMG. And Portishead’s original recording contract would have been made in the early 1990’s, long before streaming was in anyone’s thoughts.

  7. Wedau

    It is very likely that most of these streams are YouTube. The whole thing is pointless without a detailed brakdown of streams. It is interesting that readers are blaming Spotify straight away without knowing anything. And for the (well respected) artist to blame iTunes: sorry, that’s not a sign of knowing what is going on with your own business

  8. RickyLopez

    It looks like the contract could be out of date. As are at least 90% of contracts out there when it comes to streaming. UMG are obviously a US company but EU laws are on the band’s side and it’s the duty of the contract holder to inform of any changes to ANY terms. They probably did [probably on page 72] of a royalty statement sometime back…..but Portishead ‘could’ dispute easily…If it was worth it of course

  9. Anonymous

    Not sure what the tax situation is for the guy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s 50%. So he probably actually made more like $5200 before taxes. Also most all their songs are split three ways, so the song now has made $15,600. This also might not be representing the publisher share (half), which he might or might not be collecting, so that’s now $31,200. Again all just conjecture without more detail, but it’s quite possible we are looking at something more like $.001 per stream instead of $.0001. Still pretty crappy, but probably more accurate.

  10. Z100?

    How much did Z100 or or KIIS FM pay to any artists for broadcasting their music last month? Each top 40 artist probably accounted for 50M+ spins last month (1.4M avg user per day x number of spins x 30).

    Well… significantly less than $2,589 US (L 1,700)… How about $0.00 for the sound recording. I dont care about top 40 artists (aka the owners of Tidal) but if we fix terrestrial radio for all artists, we can make a living again.

  11. DrNue

    An article on this side showed a graphic that post tax payout goes as follows:

    10.9 %: Artist
    16 % : Songwriter / Publisher
    73.1 %: Record Label

    So Geoff is getting I guess one third of 10.9%+16%=16.9%
    16.9% / 3 = 1700
    => 16.9% = 5100
    => 73.1% = 25077.51

  12. Reality

    Why is any one still interested in these vague royalty statements from wealthy artists? And does any one here know how much it cost to get a portrait painted before the photograph? Things change, including the value of art. But reality is there are still millionaire painters and photographers. Websites used to be extremely expensive and now you can have one for under $100. But there are still websites that cost millions too.

    My point, aside from the obvious one, is that the only thing different in these arguments of royalties is that wealthy companies and artists aren’t happy with the change. Plenty of up and coming less successful labels and artists are fine because they earned $100 more than they did last year. Plus FM, Tower Records, and a Universal deal was never in their future. So they’ll take a Spotify and YouTube check any day of the week. And just like we’ve seen a million times before, we have new millionaires and the cycle continues. The sky is not falling.

  13. JG

    There is a simple solution to all of this that no one is talking about and I can’t understand why: pay out the 75% or $7.50 of the $10 monthly subscription to ONLY THE ARTISTS/LABEL THAT YOU LISTEN TO THAT MONTH. so if a teenage girl only listens to Katy Perry then Katy/Capital would get the $7.50 and split it dependent on her deal. Now if a metalhead kid in Indianapolis only listens to Fugazi and Prong for a month well then those bands get the $7.50. People this solves the problem. Big artists still will get the lion’s share since they are so popular anyway, but the smaller acts will get a LOT more if they get the streams. Spotify and Tidal make the same $$ so it doesn’t matter to them. The problem is convincing the big 3 record label conglomerates to do this deal and distribute this way. But I don’t see how they lose much $$. Curious to hear everyone’s thoughts. Makes perfect sense to me.

    • Sarah

      Those are good thoughts. 🙂

      It’s exactly the way subscriptions should be done, in terms of payouts. The issue is likely that Spotify needs to be able to reallocate the subscriptions of the paying subscribers in order to pay the artists that the non-paying subscribers listen to (which isn’t a good reason).

    • GGG

      This is something I’ve been saying for a while now, so I agree. Seems only fair to me.

      • Me

        The only problem with this is that the more one person listens to multiple artists, the less money they get. I for one am not listening to only one or two artists a month. If you listen to 100 different artists in one month, then that’s only $.075 for each artist.

        • GGG

          Well, it’s a valid point, but it’d be weighted still. So, yes, there are times where it might end up being the same thing anyway, but other times where it might be more beneficial.

          For example, I’ve listened to Ryan Adams’s Live at Carnegie Hall 3 times all the way through in the last few days, and really not that much else on Spotify. A few singles from new bands here and there. Now, granted it’s the end of the month and I don’t remember how much other stuff I’ve streamed, but I know for a fact I’ve listened to that album alone far, far more than anything else, and with a run time of 3.5 hours (so 10.5 hours total), quite possibly equal or more than everything else combined. If we say it was, for argument sake, he should get half my $7.50, or around $3.75. That is compared to Spotify’s best rate of .008/stream, for streaming 42 tracks 3 times, where he’d get about a buck.

          • GGG

            I don’t see why you’d have to relicense anything. It’s just about coding/accounting. There is clearly already some technology involved in paying out at different price points, otherwise my acts wouldn’t have payouts ranging from .0001 to 1.4 cents. So it can’t possibly be that hard to implement something that tracks plays by specific users. Hell, I’m sure they already do for data mining purposes.

  14. jot

    Portishead should hit up their label and publishing company. Spotify pays fat advances that never trickle down to the artists/composers. The streaming services are not innocent, but neither are the labels and publishers exploiting the content.

  15. JTVDigital

    As usual such statements out of context are very confusing and give a blurred message to the other artists and fans.

    Even using the low-end average in terms of per-unit stream value (Spotify), 34 million Spotify streams would generate a bit more than 100,000 USD net for the label.
    What are the deal terms of the band with their label? Nobody knows.
    If they are under a “traditional” recording artist deal with the label, it won’t be surprising that their share is no more than 10%. Under that scenario, and under that scenario only, then yes they’d end up with approx 10,000 USD for the band. Assuming it’s been agreed to divide it equally amongst band members (they are 3 permanent members? or 4?), and considering all of the above approximations and guesses, we end up with something close to the numbers announced here.

    But it may be important to mention that on top of the streaming revenue (= master use royalties) they’ll each receive their songwriters’ royalties.

    • steveh

      As I posted earlier:-

      Many or most artists on traditional record deals are perfectly capable of looking at a royalty statement and seeing, for CDs for example,:- Units sold = X : Royalty Base Price = $Y : Royalty rate = Z% : Earnings = X x Y x Z

      But then 34 million streams for $2500 – you what mate? Something has to be wrong here…. It can’t just be the record comapany, because the general accounting for CDs and iTunes etc seems more or less par for the course. But for streaming it is most definitely not, so somewhere along the line it has to be the fault of the general streaming artist income model. It’s just not working.

      And so you find that very few artists are endorsing Spotify etc. Look at their websites or Facebook pages – “buy our CDs – buy our merch – buy our download album on iTunes” – but not very much “listen to us on Spotify”. Get the picture?

  16. Tsjerk Kooistra

    There will be place for multiple streaming platforms for consumers to listen to music. These platforms should be seen a modern way for consumers to discover new music and artist’s. Artist should be accessible through all these platforms to guarantee a minimal level of accessibility so consumers so they can easily listen and discover them. Possibly convincing them to come to their live performances. All these platforms are based on a ‘1-to-many’ model though, where consumers get access to often more than 25+million artists.

    Todays app technology gives artist the possibility to create a 1-to-1 relationship with (for sake of it, let’s call them) ‘fans’ on their OWN platform. For this 1-to-1 relationship artist don’t get paid because a fan watched another advert from e.g. Gillette, neither they have to share the subscription fee with any other random artist played on some playlist that month (on our offline).

    Fans really don’t mind paying a small yearly contribution directly (let’s say the fee of 1 month for a regular streaming service), supporting the artist they really love, getting access to premium content and possibly exclusive flash sales, live/recorded streamed house concerts, guest appearances, acoustic versions, discounts in merchandise store, preferred ticketing options etc.

    Artist should get used to the fact that they regularly have to be ‘top of mind’ with their fans (also on the 1-to-many streaming platforms) and release new materials on a regularly base (compared to album releases/tour cycles) and that no longer the Labels or Record Stores will be collecting the moneys but this can be done through their own platform with a single click/touch of a finger by their through fans.

    Tsjerk Kooistra

    CEO Contendis

  17. Rickshaw

    Ok, so now the group has $2589 they didn’t have before. Prove that this has taken away from other revenue. You can’t.

  18. Stephen

    Stop crying and take your music off of Spotify. If it’s the label that decides, release music independently. And finally, let’s all just forget about the idea of music being art. It isn’t art any more, it’s free entertainment for plebs. Music is dead, live with it and get a job…or just live off of all those royalties you procured through the 90s and stop fkin crying!!!