Monetizing Music

Chase Sandborn

Articles in the journal from the Toronto Musician’s Association and the website informationisbeautiful.net provide interesting statistics about the impact of technology on musicians’ ability to monetize their creative output. This information is an opportune follow-up to my previous column entitled “Revolutionary Thoughts.”

CD Sales

When a self-produced artist sells a CD for $10, the full amount goes to the artist. Keep this information in mind the next time you are in the presence of a band with CDs for sale. The vote of confidence and even the small amount of cash mean a lot to the artist.

Digital Downloads

If an album is downloaded from a site like Bandcamp or CD Baby for $10, the remittance to the artist is approximately $8.50. Similarly, when a single track is downloaded from iTunes for $0.99, the artist receives $0.69. These terms seem pretty fair considering there are no costs involved with producing and distributing a physical disc.

Streaming Services

The reality is that CDs and even downloads are rapidly becoming anachronistic as streaming becomes the predominant delivery method for music. Here the rates paid to the artist take a nosedive, ranging from $.001 from YouTube to $.043 on Tidal per track streamed. This formula dictates that 23,000 to 1,000,000 plays are required to earn the artist $1,000. While these figures range from optimistic to astronomical for an independent artist, it is worth noting the disparity in payment from various streaming media services. At the top end are Google Play and Tidal. I was happy to see this data as I’m really enjoying my premium monthly subscription to Tidal, which delivers the music in CD quality and provides insightful information on the artist with expertly curated lists of suggested tracks based on the current selection.

The amount and variety of music available at the click of a button is at once enthralling and overwhelming. If I devoted every hour I have left on this earth to listening, I’d barely scratch the surface. For those now coming of age during this time of technological wonder, take full advantage of the musical windfall as you grapple with the challenge of monetizing your art.