“Cars” Singer Gary Numan: ‘I Got £37 From a Million Streams’

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Gary Numan performing live. Photo Credit: Man Alive!

“Cars” singer, songwriter, and producer Gary Numan has revealed that he once earned just over $50 (£37) for one million streams — or about $0.00005 per stream.

Gary Numan disclosed his decidedly small royalty payment – and relayed his stance on today’s streaming-driven music landscape – in a recent Sky News interview. The Hammersmith, London-born musician’s comments starkly contrast figures released this week by the British Phonographic Industry (BPI), which touted streaming as financially beneficial to artists.  The BPI noted  that “labels receive gross revenues of around 4.33” from a standard $9.99-per-month subscription, “of which artists receive 1.33.”

The 62-year-old Numan didn’t specify which of his tracks generated the minuscule payment for one million streams, or from which platform the check arrived.  “I had a statement a while back and one of my songs had had over a million plays, million streams, and it was £37,” Numan relayed. “I got £37 from a million streams.”

For reference, Spotify pays most artists between $.003 and $.005 (one-third of a penny to one-half of a penny) per stream, based upon DMN’s much-cited royalty-rate breakdown – meaning that creators would receive $3,000 to $5,000 for one million plays.

But Numan didn’t say whether these streams derived from Spotify (YouTube and Pandora pay less per play, it bears mentioning), and a number of factors affect the Stockholm-based platform’s per-stream royalty rate. Classical violinist Tasmin Little, for instance, said that she earned just $17 or so (£12.34) for five to six million Spotify streams.

Numan, who is preparing to release his 19th studio album later in 2021, also described the time (“about a year ago”) that he printed a streaming-royalty statement without checking its precise length beforehand.

“It was hundreds and hundreds of pages. And the end of it was, like, £112 [$153.07]. It was barely worth the [paper] it was printed on, and it took nearly half an hour to print. You know, it’s so much stuff, so much streaming, and there’s absolutely nothing in it,” he said.

Lastly, the “My Name Is Ruin” creator summed up his position on streaming’s role in the contemporary music industry: “The solution’s simple. The streaming companies should pay more money. They’re getting it for nothing.”

Earlier this month, an investigative article shed light upon the prevalence (and listenership success) of “white noise” songs, which earn the same royalties as proper music, on Spotify. Separately, many have pushed back against the platform’s recent moves to delist indie music artists over alleged “artificial stream” violations, and a number of the impacted artists are denying that they used third-party services to boost their play counts.

28 Responses

  1. Michael David Curley

    You can understand how most artists get left out of the heavy-duty sales: The stuff you only hear on national radio’s. It’s gone downhill since Cowell was involved in it for over ten years. Streaming services rescued it somewhat, but it’s a far cry from 5 cents a play. Gary Numan would have then received £50k on a million streams. The youth should wake up!

    • JAS

      5 cents a play on radio, is not the same as pay per stream. In a large market like NY or LA, that ‘play’, would be heard by 10,000+ people simultaneously, so divide up that nickel. .0035 per stream then makes sense.

      To earn the 50k you state is over 2700 plays per day for a year. I doubt Gary got that much air play in the last 10 years. Even world wide.

      The problem is there seems to be HUGE discrepancy song to song, artist to artist.

      You and I pay the same for a pack of smokes or a tank of gas, regardless of our stature in the community. There needs to be a standard, like $2500/millon streams. Hit song, or burp into a microphone, if it streams a million times, that $2500 is earned.

      Spotifiy’s math should pay 3-5K/million, but seems to favour popular artists. Hits should earn more simply by streaming more, not by a higher/stream rate. It would be fine to add incentives for hit makers, as long as the baseline margin was paid to everybody.

      To be clear, I 100% support artists being compensated for the value they create.
      I don’t think old style radio per play rates apply to streaming. I DO believe artists ARE getting ripped off by this inconsistent pay. Gary definitely should have earned about 40x more for those million streams.

      • See u in the bread line

        You totally miss the real con!
        You pay for your ignorance

  2. Roberto

    60% of Pro musicians have quit the music business. I wonder why? Oh yes, money! Now you need a DAY JOB in order to keep your electric turned on and fans expect music for free and could care less how musicians pay their bills or feed their families. Were there any musicians present when these streaming rates were set? Budgets have gone from $250,000 down to nothing and fans expect the same quality?? With a 99.9% failure rate why would anybody go into the music business in 2021? And more Pro musicians will soon quit the music business since Covid came along. No money from music sales tied in with no money from gigs is a disaster for the musical community. But the fans are clueless. And the quality of music will continue to decline. Remember Beatles, Pink Floyd, Eagles, Queen? Say goodbye to those great days when fans paid for music and musicians had budgets to make great music – music that still stands up today! And the era of the HOBBYIST musician is upon us ….

    • Not Quite

      Until you mentioned the Beetles
      Yuck! There are GOOGOBS of black blues musicians that have publicly stated they played on the tracks because of how completely TALENTLESS they are!
      The first industry plants

      • JAS

        I am gonna have to say no, I don’t think so. Can you provide a single name?

        You seem to imply that they never played on the albums at all. I guess all the concerts were fake too.

        Keep in mind, I am NOT a huge Beatles fan. Did they all ‘fake’ on albums after they broke up?

        This does not mean other musicians weren’t involved, but this was no Milli Vanilli…

        • Jas if that's ur real name

          You need to do your research it’s well documented I’ll give you a hint since you seem completely unable to study which implies an expansive liberal education all of which has already failed you

          Watch Quincy Jones tell you from his own mouth

          then lick the boots clean princess well see how your weave holds out!
          Because it will be displayed on only fans where you will have to sell yourself for food
          It’s a hard lesson but it will serve you if you survive
          Ha ha ha

  3. The Truth

    no one is asking: “what percentage does he own from the song in question?”

    • Pat

      Even if he owns 100% of the writing/publishing, Spotify keeps 30% of revenue, gives label/master owner 57%, and the scraps, 13% go to writer/publisher(s). These are rough estimates, as their compensation algorithm is very complicated. Creatives are being absolutely fleeced by DSPs and label middle men.

      • Anonymous

        pretty affordable, 30% to make your music available everywhere, with easy access and plenty of metrics about the people who listen to it.

        What commission should Spotify charge for its service?

  4. Anonymous

    Don’t you guys have an editor for dim witted millennial writers? The Cars lead singer died in 2020

    • What to do with a high IQ

      Amen…. So many of these posts are from complete morons

  5. Tommy Wimmer

    Gary Numan wasn’t the lead singer of the Cars. His hit single was named “Cars”.

    Gary Numan was in Tubeway Army. The lead singer of the Cars was Ric Ocasek.

  6. PleasurePrinciple

    How can a music news site confuse Gary Numan with Ric Ocasek? Know your music history.

    • Refreshingly stupid

      None of these people have been in or around the music business in any way shape or form ever

    • Duhhh

      If you knew your music history, you’d know he wrote the song ‘Cars’.

  7. Master Blaster










    How you like it!!!

    Burn Baby Burn!!!!!

  8. Jokes On You

    Not one “writer” on this site has ANY music business experience

    They fit right in with the lawyers and billionaires that are feeding off of us!

    They like to be posers like most TALENTLESS losers putting any article up the industry tells them to for a chance to lick the boots

    Just so they can “look” cool at high school reunion and to their mom who live upstairs because we all know that get paid very little which makes since because the will have no money to fight lawsuits for insider trading!

  9. henmaus25

    SI Todos…………………………………………………… !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Sending this off to

    the lead detective watching this fake news site to hi-lite now they have no music experience and are in fact an arm of the music monopoly feeding the public false info to beef up stock prices and business evals

  11. Martin

    For the smaller artist streaming is worser that file sharing. The big companies get the money and the independent artist is getting nothing. It should be the other way around with the whole diy possibilities.

  12. Gordon Gekko

    The problem is that songwriters get peanuts compared to the labels that own the masters. I’m an Independant musician that owns 100% of my masters and I made $3500 from streaming last year on roughly 1 million plays. A lot of these old artists don’t own their masters only the publishing which is why they’re getting so little in streaming royalties. Bottom line is publishing companies got royally screwed when Spotify and the labels made a deal. Only legislation can fix it.

  13. Let’s make a Hit

    There is still gold to be found up in them there hills.. blockbuster hits can still make you millions and give you that dream lifestyle.