Nadine Shah Says She Can’t Pay Rent Despite Having More Than 100,000 Spotify Monthly Listeners

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Nadine Shah. Photo Credit: Paul Hudson

Singer-songwriter Nadine Shah recently stated that she is struggling to pay her rent despite having more than 100,000 monthly listeners on Spotify.

The 34-year-old Whitburn native Nadine Shah elaborated upon her Spotify earnings situation while addressing the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, as part of its ongoing probe into streaming royalties. DCMS Committee members unveiled their comprehensive analysis, which is specifically studying streaming’s impact upon labels, artists, “and the sustainability of the wider music industry,” last month.

Shah – who joined Radiohead guitarist Ed O’Brien and Elbow frontman Guy Garvey in speaking before the bipartisan House of Commons select committee – broached the subject of streaming royalties when asked whether she believes that the relationship and agreements between labels, streaming services, and others are transparent.

“I don’t feel that it is that transparent. I don’t,” said Shah. “What I do know is that the earnings from my streaming, they’re not significant enough to keep the wolf away from the door. I’m in a position as an artist with a substantial profile, a substantial fan base, is critically acclaimed, but I don’t make enough money from streaming.

“I’m in the position now where I’m struggling to pay my rent. And I’m embarrassed to talk about these issues publicly. I’m embarrassed to talk about them for many reasons. Because money, you know, sometimes to an extent is an indication of success. But here that’s not really the case I think, because I am a successful musician, but I’m just not being paid fairly for the work that I make.

“I don’t think there is enough transparency, no,” concluded the “Trad” artist. “But the bottom line for me is that, what is transparent is that I’m not being paid.”

With 101,999 monthly Spotify listeners to her credit and a similarly strong following on other platforms, Nadine Shah’s claims of streaming-related financial struggles are particularly noteworthy. While her two most popular tracks on Spotify, “Evil” (2017) and “Ville Morose” (2014) have a combined total of over 3.2 million plays, the resulting royalty payments are relatively small, given the multiyear timeframe that they cover.

Factoring based upon Digital Music News’ often-cited breakdown of Spotify’s per-stream royalty rate, between $.003 and $.005, for most artists, the mentioned 3.2 million streams would have generated approximately $16,000 (on the high end). Across the nearly seven years since the release of “Ville Morose,” the royalties come out to about $2,290 annually – or just $190 monthly.

Initially, the DCMS Committee indicated that relevant stakeholders would have until the evening of Monday, November 16th to submit written testimonials pertaining to streaming. Possibly due to the information that’s come to light thus far – the session opened with the reading of an email from an artist who struggled to make ends meet while signed to a major label – officials have since extended the deadline to Friday, December 11th. The next DCMS Committee hearing concerning the economics of music streaming is slated to take place on Tuesday, December 8th.

4 Responses

  1. Roberto

    Twenty years of music fans stealing music and now we have legalized free (stolen) music invented by a guy who used to run a Torrent! Hundreds of BILLIONS of songs stolen by the music fans who now expect great music from the musicians but don’t want to pay for it! What about a musicians strike or how about NO NEW MUSIC for a few years? Oh no, instead the musicians just keep on recording new music for free then complaining about how much money they are making! DUH!! I am now spending my days sending out DMCA take down notices! It is what I enjoy doing and you should see the INSULTS I get from my “fans” who suddenly find that they can’t get my music for free any longer and are pissed big time! Nice people these music fans!!

  2. Ruell Bankasingh

    as stated many times, the issue is the amount being paid by most streaming companies. they have to understand that at musician use to profit from sales and radio plays, with a middle man company that makes purchasing no longer the top choice, your opportunity for profits falls drastically. fans are being funneled to streaming platforms and you have to struggle to get a sale. this means that the middle man took away your option of making sales, of getting much radio play since a lot of labels control that’s whether they admit it or not, it is the fact. so most independent and label artist are left with streams, if we made 50,000 music sales we would have made 500,000, but now we are mostly getting streams. if they don’t pay us, minimum 0.05 we’re not going to really profit the way we should. even with radio play, they could structure a rotation for all stations to play once a month independent artist that fit the criteria for a few hours were the pay is good, and this would benefit us. meaning you gather all the independents that are on that level and rotate them everyday, and continue to do so in a cycle. every independent could get paid, instead of just mainstream label artist. where i am in south florida. it’s all just main stream every hour. literally, you will hear the same songs every hour, every day. The big companies don’t care about anyone else and they all want to horde all the profits. if their making billions, they still want to take the dollar you got or opportunity to make a dollar. it’s disgusting, society, human beings in general are no different from the veil evil demons in the anime’s. they can structure it fair and benefit everyone, yet they refuse. the PRO’S protest the unfair pay because they analyze everything and know what is fair, yet the big companies pay off the corrupt politicians and they rule to harm the people and benefit the already profiting immensely corporations. Is it what it is, no sense denying reality.

  3. Jeffreh

    I’m sorry, but 100K monthly listeners is not that much. A new song could get picked up by an editorial playlist and see a surge like that. And that isn’t even taking into account labels, lawyers, management, etc.

    While the royalty amounts may be abysmal to some, the real issue is the reliance on Spotify alone to pay her rent in a month. Especially with all of those other team members to consider.

  4. J. Norman

    I always love to see Digital Music News quoting the average stream rate of $0.003 to $0.005 per play. Whenever they do, I compare it to my payouts (average of $0.0003 — notice the extra zero), and I start drooling with envy. LOL!