Spotify is ramping up. Electronic producers have shifted their attention to building followings on the platform. Spotify is expected to be huge in 2016: here’s a few reason why you should release and build your following on Spotify.
Spotify & Royalty Fairness
The first thought that artists have about Spotify is that they pay incredibly low. Celebrity musicians like Taylor Swift and Calvin Harris have outwardly come out and griped about Spotify not paying them enough money for their streams. I’m all for getting artists more money, however artists have to understand a few things before criticizing streaming services for underpaying musicians.
1 radio play ≠ 1 Spotify play
I often hear the complaint that AM/FM radio pays better royalties than “online radio” services like Spotify. These artists miss the fact that streaming services are not radio, or even “online radio”. AM/FM radio stations will play 1 song for hundreds, thousands, or even millions of listeners. Depending on the size of the broadcast, one radio station can reach many people. 1 song played on Spotify goes to 1 device.
Artists think radio pays better because artists equate being able to reach thousands of listeners to be the same as being able to reach one listener. If you would really like to calculate out the “fairness” between Spotify & terrestrial radio, there’s a simple way: find the royalty per person. Find a number of listeners per radio station (not so simple), and then divide it by the royalty check of 1 play. Do the same for Spotify. There’s some extra bonuses that comes along with radio, however it is my theory that the larger the radio station, the less money artists are actually getting paid because the denominator, or number of people listening, increases while the royalties stay relatively the same.
Big-label artists accept low-royalties
Whenever an artist signs onto a big-label, they are signing away 50-85% of their royalty payments to the label. If an artist has extra personnel contributing, the chunk that the artist receives gets smaller and smaller. Calvin Harris’ most recent album Motion credited 20 other people, beside Calvin Harris, to have contributed to the album. Each one of these 20 people receives a cut of the songs they contributed towards. Special legal provisions also make digital streaming services like Spotify and satellite radio services like SiriusXM to pay songwriters more than other forms of royalties. If artists want to max out their streaming checks, they need to fight to maintain ownership of the music. The more hands in the pot means the less for the artist.
Spotify is more reliable than album sales
The average consumer does not pay for music. They don’t expect to. As a millennial myself, I attach absolutely zero money to buy recorded music. I only voluntarily spend money on music if I want to support one of my favorite musicians–maybe 3 artists at max that. The rest of my music spending is either from iTunes gift cards, or when I really need a track for a DJ set. Otherwise, I spend $0 on recorded music.
I know there’s an artist reading this right now who is screaming, “why the hell won’t you buy music!!!”. What’s interesting is that the idea recorded music in vinyl, or CD’s, or .MP3’s, isn’t even 150 years old. Hell, mass-consumption of vinyl records is barely 100 years old. Selling music is 100 years old, playing music is thousands of years old. Don’t get romantic about the way the 20th century musicians made their money and think that you have to do the same things. A lot has changed since then.
Since consumers have such a low value of music, it’s to the artist’s advantage to monetize on ways that do not charge the user. Publishing on streaming platforms allow artists to make money off of fans listening to their music.
One reason for artists to focus on building their Spotify follows is to have their music distributed straight to listeners on release. If tracks are delivered to listener’s streams, even in the form of sidebars, artists have an initial audience, and initial royalty money, to come in with every new release.
It’s easy to become Spotify Verified
Becoming verified on any platform is a good way to for artist’s to show they are legit. Verified doesn’t just signal the authenticity of the account, but also says that the artist is somehow important or worth paying attention to.
Spotify hands out Verifications at 250 followers. That’s nothing. There are some Twitter and Facebook accounts at hundreds of thousands of likes/follows that aren’t even verified yet.
Spotify offer free analytics
Spotify announced that it is debuting its completely free Fan Insights tools. Fan Insights shows artists the data about who listens to their music. Streaming services like YouTube and SoundCloud have offered location insights and similar data, however Spotify offers this data for free. Spotify also claims it goes more in-depth and offers more data points than its competitors. This release doesn’t mean much to big artists who can afford fancy analytics, but it could help out budding artists in choosing cities for their first tours, among other things.