One of the music industry’s best-paying platforms is now comprehensively tracked by Chartmetric.
Last month, we covered Chartmetric’s sizable ‘version 2’ upgrade, which includes critical TikTok tracking capabilities. But the company’s latest addition involves a platform conceptualized when TikTok was almost unimaginable.
Tucked within Chartmetric’s recently-launched Airplay monitoring section is a toggle for SiriusXM Satellite Radio. SiriusXM is a platform that rarely grabs headlines but frequently beats rivals in terms of per-stream royalties and promotional impact. Chartmetric’s SiriusXM tracking coexists alongside conventional broadcast radio monitoring, which includes major radio stations across all five continents and more than 30 countries.
That includes the United States, where SiriusXM finds most of its subscribers (the satellite radio provider is available in the US and Canada). But unlike US-based broadcast radio stations, which only pay royalties to publishers and songwriters, SiriusXM pays royalties for both publishing and recording streams.
That makes a noticeable difference for artists enjoying regular spins on Sirius stations. That includes Bobby Caldwell, whose soulful classic, “What You Won’t Do for Love,” is played regularly on stations like Yacht Rock and The Blend. “Sirius definitely plays a lot of Bobby’s music,” Caldwell’s wife and manager, Mary Beth Caldwell, told Digital Music News. “They play him a lot on Yacht Rock.”
That translates into a noticeable paycheck, though Caldwell admitted that it remains difficult to verify every play. “I ask myself: is that really all of the plays?”
Chartmetric’s tracking was partly designed with that problem in mind — and DMN recently joined the effort to spread the solution. Sirius pays recording royalties through SoundExchange, and Caldwell shared that SoundExchange paychecks are now arriving monthly. Now, the next step is verifying the stream counts tabulated by Chartmetric against the monthly breakdowns, an audit that was difficult to conduct previously.
Looking ahead, a sizable discrepancy could result in substantial royalty increases. Mary Beth shared that Bobby’s Spotify payments are substantially larger, based on the enormous streaming volume difference between the two platforms. Pound-for-pound, however, Sirius takes the per-stream royalty cake: according to one recent report, a single play on SiriusXM can generate up to $44. By comparison, Apple Music pays a penny per play, while Spotify pays substantially less than half a penny.
But it’s not just royalties that make SiriusXM a critical platform for artists. According to Big Machine Label Group founder, president, and CEO Scott Borchetta, SiriusXM is an indispensable launchpad for his roster of artists.
“SiriusXM is a critical partner for us,” Borchetta told DMN. “The argument could be made that ‘The Highway’ is the biggest country music station in America. When we have a real record, the Highway moves the national needle almost immediately for us in streams and sales.”
“They also have the ability to move on multiple key tracks from a project which only helps us break artists quicker and establish the value of a body of work.”
Big Machine’s roster is formidable, with superstars like Tim McGraw, Sheryl Crow, Thomas Rhett, Carly Pearce, Midland, and Lady A, among others. Those artists receive substantial streams on platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, and Amazon Music. However, the pound-for-pound promotional and royalty impact is far more significant on SiriusXM for certain artists.
For Chartmetric, the goal is to track every platform relevant to an artist or song. That introduces a complex interplay, though the dashboard for SiriusXM Satellite Radio is relatively simple.
While SiriusXM boasts hundreds of stations across its network of satellite, streaming, and app-based platforms, this is a relatively contained platform. Geographically, SiriusXM is limited to North America, and the dial features plenty of talk-only stations like Howard Stern and sports programming. On the musical side, most songs land on a limited number of genre-specific stations.
Accordingly, Chartmetric’s breakdown for a specific song focuses on plays across relevant stations. Total plays are split between these stations, offering an easy glance for anyone tracking the action.
Case in point: Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas Is You,” easily one of the holiday season’s biggest songs, is receiving spins on eight different SiriusXM stations. Incidentally, the biggest station is ‘TikTok Radio,’ which speaks volumes on how interconnected platforms have become in the music industry. It’s also a major reason Chartmetric covers both platforms – and a lot in-between.
Indeed, no platform is an island, and Chartmetric has already started mapping connections.
The company also lists every SiriusXM channel and its corresponding followers on TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, and even SoundCloud. Some stations are bigger than others – and, accordingly, are more interconnected with social media platforms.
During its most recent quarterly investor call, SiriusXM revealed 34.17 million paying subscribers. That’s slightly down from last year and pales in comparison to platforms like Spotify, which most recently reported 195 million paying subscribers. But despite the discrepancy, SiriusXM has a stable bulwark of dedicated listeners — and arguably, a more potent platform for artists. Now, with Chartmetric’s recent integration, SiriusXM is far more accessible to artist marketing plans and analytics tracking.