Monday, March 1, 2010

Dismal Returns For Streaming

You'd think that a song popular enough to get tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of plays would generate some substantial income for the performer. You sell in substantial mass and get compensated accordingly. That's not the case, according to Billboard's annual Money Makers report.

It seems that the income to the artists from all those streams are shockingly low. Of the top 100 musical money makers of 2009, only 10 made more than $2,000 from interactive streams, with Beyonce topping the list with a mere $5,000!

What's more, only 25 artists made more than $1,000 from on-demand streams, with Michael Jackson topping the list with $10,000 (these figures are US only and don't include publishing).

But there's still some real money in digital album download sales. 13 artists generated sales of over $200,000, again led by The King Of Pop with $800,000, and another 26 made more than $100k. And single track sales pulled in the kind of money you'd expect a pop star to generate. 3 acts generated more than $1 million in digital track sales, with Lady Gaga leading the pack, and 33 others made at least $100k from digital single track download sales.

Streams from subscription services like Rhapsody actually paid off a little though, with 26 earning more than $100,000, led by Nickelback, Michael Jackson, and Taylor Swift.

So what does this all mean? Even though we think we've figured out how to monetize music in Music 3.0, it's still a moving target. There are still many holes in the system, with the artists still taking the brunt of any shortfalls that occur. Because even if subscription music takes hold in a big way and the income stream of the industry takes a big leap forward, there's still no guarantee that the money will find it's way into the artist's pocketbook.

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