Spotify pay shit money row- Guardian article makes bizarre claims about musicians earnings.
Thom Yorke and Nigel Goodrich started it all by pulling the Atoms For Peace album off Spotify because of the shitty royalty rates paid to smaller bands by the big company.
And it’s true, the Spotify royalty rates are so laughable that most musicians don’t even look at them.
For the fan, of course, it’s a great service- but it’s just another hurdle a musician has to clamber over whilst attempting to survive in the increasingly infested sea of sharks that’s out there.
The old school model of the cigar chomping crook has been replaced by the shiny digital thief like the pirates, grinning as they make money and telling you that they are doing you a favour- Spotify is the respectable end of this bleeping new world.
Thom Yorke has certainly sparked debate again- that endless debate about how poorly paid musicians are in the digital era- a time when playing in a band is fast becoming a rich kids hobby.
There was an article on the Guardian website today about how musicians get paid that seemed quite naive- so naive that we have decided to answer some of their basic points. Also we hope their writer got paid more than what a band gets paid by Spotify for their labours! (Guardian piece in italics).
Spotify is not the world, yet the hair-pulling and foot-stamping on both sides that always accompanies these royalties debates often forgets that. So where else do artists make money? Here are some ballpark figures:
CDs and downloads: Depending on the dealer price and if they are recouped (ie have paid back the initial label investment), it could be anywhere between £1.02 and £1.44 for a CD album sale (and 80p in mechanical royalties for the songwriters) or between 10p and 14p for a download (8p for the songwriters).
That’s all well and good in an ideal world but someone has to pay to make the things and there is also the studio and rehearsal cost- (and boring real life stuff like food and rent and often having to split the money up 4/5 ways…). It quickly seems that this article is written from the perspective of someone who thinks Robbie Williams is the average musician- even a big cult band makes very little from CD sales these days- they are also much harder to distribute with shops going bust, people buying a lot less of them and people being able to get the music for free off the internet.
Radio: A play for a three-minute song on Radio 2 generates £59.73 (collected by PRS for Music) for the songwriters, and a similar figure (collected by PPL) is split between the label and the performing artists.
That would be great but radio is very limited in what it plays. Radio one and two will pay good royalty rates but they play a very narrow band of songs over and over and that’s mainly pop which is a tiny percentage of music that is ever made. Evening radio plays slightly more music but it pays far less royalty rates. 6music pays far less as well and also plays a quite narrow band of music- mainly the polished end of indie and hip indie music and certainly no rock music- so rock bands have little chance of making much radio royalties…
Live: Private gigs can range from £75,000 for an act with a few hits to £2m for superstars. One UK DJ is estimated to have made $300,000 (£200,000) per show in Las Vegas last year.
Maybe this writer could work as an agent! Hardly any bands get £75 000 per gig! – even with a few hits! Classic bands with a bunch of hits get about £10/15 000 and more for festivals- well known circuit bands are likely to be getting two or three grand tops and that’s still very few musicians- then there are the costs- travel, crew, accommodation and visas (up to £5000 to get a British band into the USA these days and months of messing around to get the visas which is also costly).
Use in a TV show or film: Background music on EastEnders, say, falls under the broadcaster’s blanket licence and would cost a few hundred pounds. If used as a theme tune to a show, it could generate £40,000 split between the act and label (with a similar fee for publishing).
How many people actually get this? It’s like winning the FA cup getting music onto an ad or a TV show- I can’t even believe this is even listed as some sort of common earning for a musician.
Use in a Hollywood movie: Up to £100,000 just for the recording (again, likely to be shared with the label).
This is now really starting to take the piss…
Use in an ad: Between £300,000 and £400,000 would not be uncommon for the rights to the original recording for a defined campaign period, possibly doubling if its use is exclusive.
Very, very rare and nowhere near as much money…
Endorsements: For anything from clothing brands and jewellery to energy drinks, upwards of £400,000 a product.
Yes, if you are Jay Z, usually the occasional free shoes for anyone else.
Maybe the article was written as a joke – a parody on out of touch journalism, because whoever wrote it does not live in the real world and seems so out of touch with reality that it’s unintentionally laughable.