What Spotify Paid One Artist in 2018

Zoe Keating’s Spotify payouts prove one thing – you can’t make a living off streaming music.

Earlier this year, Canadian award-winning cellist and composer Zoe Keating shared her Spotify payouts with Digital Music News.

Using RouteNote as her distributor, she earned $4,388.93.  Fans streamed her works 1,154,513 times.  Keating earned just $0.0038015 per stream.

Using CD Baby, she earned a slightly higher Spotify payout.  At a per-stream rate of $0.0039, Keating earned $5,654.58 for 1,449,887 total plays.

Detailing the company’s payouts to artists, she then shared six years of Spotify payouts.

In 2013, the award-winning artist earned a cool $1,174.35 after 416,112 streams.  Using CD Baby as her distributor, Spotify paid her $0.0028222 per stream.  Prior to her distributor’s cut, Keating had earned $1,290.49 at a per-stream rate of $0.0031013.

A year later, Spotify’s per-stream rate actually rose to $0.040689.  After 712,039 plays, Keating earned $2,897.18.  At a per-stream rate of $0.0044713 before CD Baby’s 9% cut, she had earned $3,183.71.

In 2015, Keating earned $4,821.07 for 1,487,584 streams.  Spotify had paid her $0.0032409 per stream.  Prior to CD Baby’s cut, she had earned $5,297.88 at a per-stream rate of $0.0035614.

In 2016, using RouteNote as her distributor, Spotify paid her $2,214.53 after 606,748 plays at a per-stream rate of $0.0038015.  Keating didn’t write how much RouteNote kept.  Using CD Baby, she earned $7,800 from 1,952,933 plays at a per-stream rate of $0.0039940.  Keating had earned $8,571.43 at a per-stream rate of $0.0043890 before CD Baby’s 9% cut.

For the first half of 2018, Keating earned $2,657.25 after 707,891 plays at a per-stream rate of $0.0037538 using RouteNote as her distributor.  At a per-stream rate of $0.0035298, she earned $3,254.82 after 922,092 plays using CD Baby.  Prior to CD Baby’s 9% cut, she had earned $3,576.73 at a per-stream rate of $0.0038789.

Now, Keating has shared how much she’s earned from Spotify this year.

Why you can’t pay the rent from streaming royalties alone.

In a Twitter post, she told her nearly 1 million followers,

In 2018, my music was listened to on Spotify for 190k hours by 241,631 people.”

Totaling 2,252,293 streams, she only received $12,231 from the streaming music giant.  This means on average, she received $0.00543 per play.  She states the total figure “is 39.2% of my annual rent.”

So, how can independent artists, including Keating, survive the streaming music giant’s terrible payouts?

Keating gives two solutions – attend artists’ shows and support their work directly.

She concludes,

If you love the music please consider going to a show or supporting my work directly at zoekeating.com.  Thank you!


Featured image by Ed Schipul (CC by 2.0).

14 Responses

  1. Tony Tee

    I just started a label http://www.earjackrecords.com
    It’s what we call an exclusive content label.
    This means that certain music from the artist can only be purchased/streamed exclusively from this site.
    The advantages are…
    You can control the price point and a lower price will encourage a sale which is far better than a stream.
    The first album we have released is by an artist called Blew Money, the complete album is $1.99.
    Ask any music fan if they would purchase a download for $1.99 if it was only available in that form and the answer is a resounding YES !!!!!
    Artists have to take back the power of the sale in order to finance their musical progress.

  2. Not a cry baby

    She’s a mucisian who can’t make a living off streaming alone yet? Cry me a fucking river, and join the club. That’s how it is for 98% of all musicians.

    If I had nearly half of my rent covered JUST from streaming on Spotify, I’d be fucking happy as balls.

  3. Hank R.

    I would like to see her earnings through Apple Music and other streaming services. The fact that consumers are still downloading and even buying physical will carve out any earnings those listeners would have generated through streaming platforms. While I’m not saying the article is wrong and I do agree with the underlying point; it’s incomplete to definitively state “you can’t make a living off streaming music” but simply list one outlet. Even performance income (e.g. earnings picked up by SoundExchange, RE:SOUND, etc) could be factored in to her overall paycheck.

    • Anonymous

      That’s a fair point. The real question is, what does an artist like Zoe make off the consumption of her recorded music overall? Interactive, non-interactive, downloads, physical, sound recordings, publishing… what’s the bottom line, and is that number enough to pay rent?

      I’m pretty sure the answer is still depressing, and the vast majority of musicians are going to have to either perform constantly, sell lots of merch, or keep their day jobs. That said, I also believe that physical and downloads would have declined at the same rate with or without streaming. It’s just an inevitable consequence of the internet. If it weren’t for streaming, we’d be even more fucked than we are now.

  4. Niels Schroeter

    It always seems to be about one metric… Spotify, Pandora, etc., etc. If you’re going to disclose how little you make in one area, then share the whole picture. Perhaps access to your music via streaming and internet radio has had a positive impact on touring, licensing, DTC merch, etc. If it’s not and you’re unhappy with the proceeds, then pull your music from these services and try to forge a new path.

  5. SF

    Record label guy here. For my label, Spotify generates about 45% of our revenue. Every other platform combined generates the other 55%. But in terms of per capita revenue, Tidal currently offers the best rev stream for artists. If you want to support artists, use Tidal. (Yes, it benefits labels too but that’s going to happen regardless when an artist or their work has been signed to a label.) If everyone who uses Spotify moved to Tidal, we’d be able to pay our artists around 4x what we’re able to shell out right now.

    The problem is that when Napster killed the traditional supply & demand system in 1999, Apple bailed out the music industry with its music store in 2003 but forced an 80% decrease on the previous price point and then took 30% of what was left over. Then Spotify came along in 2008 and undermined that model even more (their rev share varies depending on the label and distributor.) And these Big Tech idiots weren’t thinking supply & demand because it’s all digital – supply is infinite. They were only thinking about how to scale to millions and billions of users.

    It’s DSPs – Spotify, Apple, Google, etc – calling the shots because they own the access to customers. Now they’re the gatekeepers. Until labels (especially UMG, WMG, and Sony) grow some cajones and accept the risks of standing up these platforms, artists will continue to receive nothing but table scraps. It’s extremely unlikely that any labels will grow some cajones.

    So unless you’re like Trent Reznor – you’ve developed a solid fan base and aren’t afraid of the cost/labor required to sell your work in limited distribution at a higher price point on your own platform – welcome to your future.

  6. Joesph K

    It’s not like Zoe Keating has a huge solo discography or has ever had a hit. Her last solo album was in 2010, although she issued a new EP this year. She’s done soundtrack work mostly for indie movies that nobody ever saw, and a long time ago. Her collaborative releases are mostly than a decade old, and not with big names.

    Like another poster mentioned, what about Apple Music? What about Google Play? What about Amazon’s streaming service? What about all the little services? What about Pandora?

    Nobody mentioned mechanical royalties. What about publishing income? Domestic and foreign.

    Did she play live in 2018? Did she sell any CDs or downloads? All that is left out. How convenient, Daniel Sanchez.

    • Anonymous

      Her website seems to indicate she’s keeping plenty busy. Live shows, new EP. It’s a fair point that the article doesn’t go into enough detail about that, but I don’t think that’s the issue.

    • paul

      She did post her revenue from all the other services and as you can see they are quite dismal.. Spotify & Pandora & Apple Music are clearly the places to be if you want listeners.

      2,252,293 Spotify streams -$12,231
      1,448,186 Pandora listens – $2,818
      127,313 Amazon Prime – $427
      62,426 Amazon Music Service – $716
      23,636 Deezer – $151.85
      16,838 WiMP – $253
      9,453 Napster -$71
      5,812 GooglePlay – $109
      3,936 Youtube Music – $15
      3,443 Tidal – $47
      673,000 Apple Music streams – amount, don’t know yet, around $3,900*?

  7. Anonymous

    Huh… and yet, I know several musicians that can pay rent from spotify streams. I guess it’s all about genre. Nobody is really signing up to hear cello music.

  8. paul

    “In 2018, my music was listened to on Spotify for 190k hours by 241,631 people.”

    What is she crying about?? I’ve had the same number of views on a few videos I put days of work into on youtube & I’ve earned $45 over 6 years from them! I’ve had over 1 million views on youtube on my channel & the grand total is $78 in 6 years.

    She should be thankful she gets anything at all! As a video creator I put my videos up for free like most do on youtube.. Many artists put their music up for free, without the platforms giving you an audience you’d have nothing & nobody would be turning up for your shows. Think of your music as your advertising & down the line you will earn when people turn up to see you perform.

    • XLR

      The Keyword there is “Youtube”, you’ve been on the platform long enough to know about their egregious payouts, unless you’re in their Preferred Tier ad system like Logan Paul was/is there is no guarantee to fair pay even with millions of plays. They gloat about Youtube Music but have terrible payouts and a Copyright Claim issue with people/companies making claims on videos they don’t own, they have a Youtube Gaming platform but gaming videos get demonetized regularly, they have issues across the board.

      You’re right about artists using Youtube as a means of promotion for their music but if it doesn’t translate financially it could hinder them from taking their careers a step further by funding a tour, paying for more studio time, or making enough to focus solely on music. We should all be fairly compensated for our work, hopefully payouts from these companies increase soon.