Zoe Keating Offers More Evidence That Spotify Royalties Are Declining

Zoe Keating Offers More Evidence That Spotify Royalties Are Declining
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Zoe Keating Offers More Evidence That Spotify Royalties Are Declining
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Photo of Zoe Keating

Artist Zoe Keating has announced on Twitter just how much she is earning through Spotify, which appears to indicate that streaming royalty rates from the company are declining sharply.

Keating indicated that she earned $753 from Spotify in September of this year, which came from a little more than 200,000 streams of her music. This means that she earned about $0.0037 per stream.

Last year, Keating reported that she was earning about $0.0054 per stream from Spotify. So, if she is indicative of a typical artist on the platform, this would mean that royalty rates on Spotify have declined considerably in the past year. It would also represent a continuing trend. Last year, royalty specialist Audiam reported that, while Spotify’s own revenue rose, royalties paid to artists at the same time fell.

As a way to express the dire financial situation many artists find themselves in today’s digital world, Keating has further semi-joked on Twitter about the paucity of her music income.

She told her followers on the platform that, if they could only listen to another 48,000 streams of her music per month, she would be able to pay the $924 monthly health insurance premium required for her and her son.

While it does not appear as if Keating has reported streaming revenue from other platforms such as Apple Music, she did tell her followers about the paltry performance royalties she earns from Spotify. Because she publishes her own music, she received performance royalties as both an artist and a publisher. But together they amounted to a little more than $150 for the quarter, and she equated 200,000 streams to $47 in performance royalties.

Keating further mentioned what she earns in mechanical royalties. She says that, in the last five years, they totaled only $5,000. She added that she only received this money after she herself contacted the Harry Fox Agency (HFA) and tracked this money down.

23 Responses

  1. Mimi

    How much does she assume she should earn? Why does she has a premium insurance when I work two jobs and have a basic?

    • hardknockskool

      how dare those entitled musicians demand they make a living when thanks to unregulated capitalism none of us can from our ‘real’ jobs! none of this is relevant to the fact that royalty rates are actually going down the more music that gets listen to but she posted screenshot of insurance choices and that’s the price of a bronze obamacare plan in vermont. health insurance is stoopid expsnsive!

    • Doug

      Yes, I work with an Indie artist and he has seen his rates go well below the ones that you often see quoted. They’ve dropped about 20% over the past year. Our theory is that labels negotiate their per-stream rates and the unsigned indie artists, who are not represented by a larger entity, are part of the equation for how Spotify balances the books. Many of the other comments are true too – the addition of podcasts; the increase in the number of streams outpacing growth of new paid subscriptions, etc. – but the trend is there.

      • Anonymous

        This is the story behind the story. I’ve heard theory too and believe it but we will never know until more labels/artists publish their earnings

  2. troll

    her music is really bad. nothing weird she doesn’t earn much, music is bad.

  3. BAC

    Zoe Keating barely has any music on Spotify. Her last album was in 2010. Her last release was a 4-track EP in 2018. Why doesn’t she release more new material? Probably spending too much time on Twitter complaining about things.

    Why is she going directly to just the Harry Fox Agency for US mechanical royalties? What about Music Reports and SoundExchange? As an indie, she should be using something like Audiam or Songtrust to collect all her mechanical royalties through foreign societies.

    There’s nothing wrong with the Spotify rate.

    As usual, this is more anti-Spotify fake news put out by Digital Music News. It’s pathetic that you have to constantly run to a loser like Zoe Keating as an example. Why the constant bias against Spotify?

    • DavidB

      These days Zoe Keating makes most of her income from TV and film commissions and synchs, which still actually pay for music. Her point about Spotify is that the rate per stream has declined, from a level that was not great to start with. A few years ago Spotify’s propaganda claimed that they paid rightsholders on average between .6 and .8 cents per stream. If that figure was ever true, it has fallen by about half. I don’t think Spotify now quote any figure at all. That hasn’t stopped them going to Court to try to cut the royalties they pay to songwriters.

      • BAC

        DavidB –

        You obviously don’t receive Spotify royalties.

        I do.

        My recent average per-stream is slightly higher than what Zoe Keating is receiving, about 10%, but there are a variety of factors involved in that calculation. How many “free” tier listens vs Premium vs Family in the US. All those rates are different. And then there are all the rates calculated for streams in countries outside the US. Again, all different.

        Yes, the per-stream rate for Spotify used to be that high, but that was when Spotify had less than 10 million paying subscribers worldwide. Now they have over 100 million paying subscribers worldwide.

        Why did the per-stream rate go down? It’s because so many people use the free tier which pays a vastly lower rate than the single or even the family subscription listen. It’s because countries that have to charge less for subscriptions (India, etc) are now using Spotify, and the aggregate rate for artists will be reduced as a result of this.

        As for paying “songwriters” less money, that’s been covered a lot. A 44% rate increase for “songwriters” spread out over a few years by the Copyright Royalty Board is rather steep. I’m not saying that songwriters shouldn’t be paid more. I’m just saying that’s a rather hefty percentage increase. It was designed to cause trouble. My guess is that Apple or Google or Amazon wanted it to happen in order to hurt Spotify, their competition. Apple, Google, and Amazon can afford to eat the increased cost, but Spotify doesn’t have a rich sugar daddy. We all know that these tech giants do rather nasty things via lobbying in order to hurt their competition and avoid taxes. Why would Spotify be any different?

        I’m still waiting for somebody to come forward to tell us their plan for paying artists through streaming services. If you’re so smart and know everything, then tell us what rates should be charged to subscribers and what rates should be paid to artists. Also consider that you’re not living in a vacuum with only one company offering these services. Come on, you’ve had many years to think about this one! You’re so much smarter than the execs at Spotify or Apple Music or Amazon. You know everything, keyboard warrior. It’s time to tell the world how thing should really be.

    • Mind Yo Business

      I’m guessing you must work for Spotify…. The owner Daniel Ek, is a billionaire paying musicians pennies for their work.

  4. Wailer

    There are now non-musical options on Spotify, the pool for payment divided among podcasters, too.

    The more choice listeners get, the more choice listeners will exercise, driving per stream rates lower, which is as it should be — it’s not rates we should watch, but yield.

    Zoe should license her work for use on podcasts.

  5. Someone in the know, unlike the other commentets

    There is something very wrong in the culture when commenters find reasons to justify why rentiers like Ek should be enriched as if they’re monarchs when the actual talent is paid less than the janitors in Spotify’s luxurious offices in New York skyscrapers.

    There was a time in this country when people were paid a fair wage. Musicians actually were admired and paid enough to make a career out of it. The conclusion that the present royalty division is the way it has to be is incorrect. The major labels demanded to invest in Spotify as the price for allowing their artists’ work to be on the site. It’s not enough for those whores to screw their own artists once; they do it again with the streaming services. Just listen to the bean counter Corson from Warner on the latest Lefsetz podcast. It’s a disgrace and shame on the public for buying into this abuse.

    • BAC

      “There was a time in this country when people were paid a fair wage. Musicians actually were admired and paid enough to make a career out of it.”

      She plays a fucking cello and has released almost nothing in the past 10 years. She’s never had a hit. And you think she’s owed a “fair wage”?

      Musicians were paid enough years ago? You should talk to the many non-superstars who signed shitty contracts where their publishing was taken from them and they could never recoup advances. You’re delusional.

      I read her tweets. 7 years on Spotify and she didn’t have her titles and ISRC codes in Harry Fox for her US mechanicals until recently. Whose fault is that? It’s her fault. She probably doesn’t know that she has foreign mechanical royalties sitting out there in other countries. I guess that’s Daniel Ek and Bob Lefsetz’s fault, too.

      • Tired of people rooting against the underdogs. Quit watching Fox already.

        The point, schmuck, is that the Spotify formula is unfair. We are living in a monopolist’s world, where the people at the top are milking the system at the expense of talent. Amazon, FB, Google, Spotify – all great ideas but unfair to everyone but the executive rentiers. You have chosen to pick on one artist; pile on if it makes you feel good. There are those that root for the underdog and then there are the dreamers who admire greed and avarice. Just because it’s a business doesn’t mean it should be unfair.

        You sound like the type who says it’s wonderful that you can sit at home and have everything delivered. One day, when every store is closed, and communities suffer from empty storefronts and zero property taxes to fund their schools, you might wake up and realize that technology is just a tool. We are human beings who have evolved to socialize. There won’t be shows to go to, except for Drake and other manufactured drek. When you refer to the. Ad contracts of yore you’re right. So why praise Spotify for bringing that leverage to the modern era?

        I don’t want to live in a cultural wasteland where every kid wants to be an engineer because there’s no living in any other field. I love music of all varieties – even cello. At least she plays an instrument! If you know any teal musicians you would be impressed with their actual skills – not the marketing machine at the top labels that produces garbage without groove or rhythm.

        Wake up fool. Shun the greed. Admire talent. Your kids might actually like you again.

        • BAC

          “The point, schmuck”

          You’re defending somebody who has been in the industry a long time, has no work ethic for releasing new music, and can’t figure out how to get paid for her US mechanical royalties.

          The Spotify formula is unfair. What should be the formula?

          Come on, you’ve had many years to figure out what percentage of Spotify revenue should used to pay artists. Obviously, nearly 70% of revenue isn’t high enough.

          What should Spotify be charging customers? $10 a month is too low. Should it be $50 a month? $100 a month? What’s fair to artist?

          This is an open forum. You’ve thought long and hard about it. Tell us your plan.

          • Someone who thinks

            It’s not about the 70%; perhaps that is fair. The problem is that the division is the numerator (total of your plays) divided by the denominator (total plays). So when Drake’s drek is played 100 times a day by one fan, versus, say, someone playing Zoe’s piece once, Drake gets 100 times the payday. It doesn’t matter that the revenue was $12 per month from the Drake fan, and $12 per month from the Zoe fan. i have thought about this disparity. Perhaps that isn’t entirely the right way to look at it either but it does make sense more than the current formula.

            Additionally, there should be antitrust restrictions employed so that labels, who have an obvious bias, shouldn’t own the distributor of their music in the streaming setting.

            I’ll also be honest and state that it’s offensive to say the least that billionaires are being made on the backs of artists. Spotify is wonderful, but wouldn’t exist without the talent creating the product. I have nothing against big rewards going to founders, but this is absurd.

      • Anonymous

        Digital Music News should follow the lead of other sites and require registration for comments. This poster an industry troll who writes variations on the same theme on every article like this.

        • highschoolmath

          Easy answer: user-centric accounting. If you love sad boring cello music and only listen to Julia Kent, Hilda Gudnadottir and Zoe Keating then all the royalties from your subscription should go to them.

          Keating needs to lay of Spotify and give them more credit for helping the industry but the lady is no slacker. She had a kid, her husband kicked the bucket and she seems to write mostly commercial music which is prob way more lucrative than releasing albums

  6. Anonymous

    spotify royalties are lower than every other major music service

    musicians don’t have a right to make a living if I barely scrape by with a real job

    spotify royalties are lower than every other major music service

    radio pays less

    spotify royalties are lower than every other major music service

    shut up and tour

    spotify royalties are lower than every other major music service

    stop complaining

    spotify royalties are lower than every other major music service

    musicians never made a living until the 20th century

    spotify royalties are lower than every other major music service

    your music is bad

    • I’ve been told I’m intelligent - what do you think?

      The subhuman who describes himself as ANONYMOUS derides me by claiming I am an industry troll who comments regularly. This sad apologist for the grotesque rentiers of our tone should know it’s the very first time I have commented. Evidently I struck a chord. Unfortunately his views are widespread in the culture. He’s as uninformed as he is angry.