Music industry blog Hypebot unveiled a surprising rumor about Lady Gaga last November. It seems she was only paid $167 for 1m plays from the UK music streaming service Spotify. It’s rare to read a candid disclosure of how much mega entertainers actually make from royalties, streams, downloads, etc… These amounts are kept so under-wraps that it’s also risky to assume the accuracy of any rumors uncovering them. In other words, I’m not sure if Lady Googoo Doll really made a part-time Taco Beller’s weekly wage on a song you’d have to live under a rock not to have heard (Poker Face).

However, I am sure how much my band has made with Spotify. Better yet, here’s a breakdown of the payouts we’ve received from all streaming services we’re distributed through. Instead of relying on the fractional amounts/per stream breakdown, I chose to calculate how many streams one would have to achieve prior to getting a hefty $1 USD payout. This list includes the now defunct Ruckus (the more the merrier). Enjoy!

Just in case your multiplication isn’t as sharp as a middle-schooler, it seems – with an independent distribution contract – one would get paid the now infamous $167 with a mere 430,359 Spotify plays/streams. Still nothing to brag about, but it goes to show you how much major labels garnish artists paychecks. The interesting thing I took away from crunching these numbers is while only charging a $5 USD/month subscription fee, Napster still pays out exceptionally more than Spotify. The UK service (yet to launch in the US) charges approx’ $20 USD/month for an all access subscription. I don’t use either service, therefore I’m not familiar with the advantages/disadvantages each provides/lacks.

Going further, I thought it might be fun to figure out how many times an artist would have to be played in order to be make a modest salary of $30k. This graph is measured in the millions (obviously).

My advice:

  1. Get invited to a private torrent site.
  2. Download away.
  3. If you like something, send $5 in the mail to the artist.