So, this week I saw a couple of very similar posts from artists - both house music producers - proclaiming “Two Million Streams on Spotify!!” for their latest track. Those are pretty impressive numbers. So what does 2 million streams on Spotify get you? Rich? Famous? Here’s my analysis….
I know my house music and I’d never heard of the tracks in question or the artists concerned and although fame is relative I’m going to say that their two million streams hadn’t made them “famous” even in that corner of electronic dance music. To be honest I’m struggling to remember who they were and I listened to the tracks a couple of times and they were well produced but ultimately a bit forgettable. It’s fair to say that if I find them advertised at a club night near me I’m probably not going to be overly excited….
So if not immediately famous, had it made them rich? Or even on their way to making a living from their music? I ran some basic sums.
400 streams on Spotify nets you about £1 ($1.37) although this can vary a little. So 2million streams is about £5000.
Of that the distributor is likely to want a cut (let’s be really generous and say just 10%) so the £5000 becomes £4500.
After that the label will want to take back any expenses for mastering, promoting, art etc. Let’s assume, again quite generously, that’s another £500. £4000 left.
A good deal with a label would see that split 50/50 so that artist share would be £2000 before tax and perhaps £1800 afterwards.
So a decent amount but certainly not “rich” on their 2 million streams and if they spent out heavily promotion (some Spotify promotion campaigns on playlist push can easily top £1-2000) it could be a lot less. If you could repeat that 2 million each month and with other bits of income from other streaming, sales and publishing you might be on your way to earning a living.
So where is the real money and fame?
If you are both a talented producer and DJ the real opportunity for money is in having enough profile to land reasonably sized and regular DJ slots at clubs and festivals where a two hour set could be earning you several thousand. Assuming those 2 million streams came from real people who are sharing the track, their love of you and creating a buzz with their friends and across social media then promoters may well be looking at you as a good booking and be willing to pay out. 2 million streams without a buzz and a fan base is not going to entice them though.
So, what’s the alternate to prioritising Spotify? All a "big hit" might help but ultimately I'd say I’d say concentrate on "the basics" - build a local following through DJ sets and expend over time to other cities, record sets to stream and engage with specialist internet radio, push for radio plays for your releases so people hear your work and know your name with endorsement from bigger acts, remix for others so you can share their audience and be generally sociable on social media! It won’t make you a star overnight but neither will 2 million Spotify streams.
PS - It's worth noting that Apple, who have a slightly smaller market share, revealed this week it pays $1 per 100 streams, nearly four times Spotify so even if you are prioritising streaming maybe Spotify isn't the one!