Surprise! Artists make pittance on streaming services

According to some artists, they're making less than one cent for every play on iTunes Match or Spotify.

Don Reisinger
CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Music-streaming services are big business for labels and even the companies that offer them. But for artists, they're not so great.

Josh Davison, a member of the band Parks and Gardens, yesterday took to Twitter to divulge the exceedingly small amount he and his fellow musicians make from streaming on iTunes Match and Spotify. According to Davison, each time one of his songs streams on iTunes Match, the band makes $0.00330526797710. When that same song plays on Spotify, the band makes $0.00966947678815. In other words, if Davison wants to make just one cent off a song play, it'll need to be streamed three times.

Web developer Scott Buscemi also shared information on Twitter, revealing that none of the popular streaming services available today, including iTunes Match, Rhapsody, or Spotify, deliver a single cent per song play.

The Next Web was first to report on the revelations.

It's certainly no secret that artists are not pleased with the revenue they generate from digital music. For years, some bands and individual artists have complained of their cut of the sales, going as far as banning their music from being included in iTunes. More recently, artists have taken aim at streaming services.

Last October, Coldplay, one of the world's biggest music acts, decided that it would not offer its then-new album "Mylo Xyloto" to Spotify, Rdio, Rhapsody, and others. Adele, Tom Waits, and Paul McCartney have also taken issue with streaming services in the past.

Still, subscription-based streaming services are generating big cash. According to data released earlier this year by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), subscription music services saw revenue rise 13.5 percent in 2011 to $241 million. The number of paying customers jumped 18 percent. Single purchases and full album downloads both hit over $1 billion in revenue last year.

CNET has contacted both Apple and Spotify for comment on the revenue information. We will update this story when we have more information.