How Much Streaming is Really Worth to Artists: a Consumption Analysis

by Bieler Bros. on January 11, 2013

How Much Streaming is Really Worth to Artists: a Consumption Analysis

The streaming debate has been a watershed moment in artist empowerment, a discussion which has allowed them discover that they can have a meaningful voice in the digital debate. Crucially it has also been a democratization of the artist voice. In the days of Napster it was only the superstar artist who got airtime to argue for (Chuck D) or against (Lars Ulrich) file sharing. Now in the days of social media the playing field has been levelled. The streaming debate has also been a coming of age for artists as business people, coming to terms with the wealth of analytics and sales data they now have at their fingertips.

Messy Data

All of this has been good and positive, and it is an evolution that I look forward to seeing continue. However there has been an unfortunate by-product of the process. With an artist posting their latest streaming versus download income data practically every week the focus has been on quantity of data not quality and, most importantly, data has often been misinterpreted and stripped of crucial context. The situation is compounded by the murkiness created by the mass of moving parts that determine how much an artist gets paid. These include: what sort of deal the artist is on, whether they are recouped, whether the artist is just a performer and/ or a songwriter, whether the label is redistributing all of its advance payments from the streaming services with artists, whether the artist is paying additional fees to distributors / aggregators and how good a deal those organizations have struck with streaming services.

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