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Digital Audio Insider

Digital Audio Insider is a blog about the economics of digital music, from the perspective of a self-released, indie musician.

Updated: 2018-03-05T20:06:22.919-06:00


From Russia With Love


Better late than never -- we just received 4 cents in our CD Baby account for 42 streams on Yandex in June and December of 2015.

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That'll Cost You Extra


This isn't a new phenomenon -- I noted several such cases in this post from 2007 -- but Slate highlights some examples where you'll pay more for the digital version of books and music releases than the physical item:
Imagine, for a moment, that you want to buy The Complete Works of Primo Levi edited by talented translator Ann Goldstein. If you were to buy a new version of the hardcover collection on Amazon, the price is $58.40. If, however, you decided that rather than adorning your shelves with Levi, you wanted to download it to your e-reader, saving yourself paper and time, you would need to pay $59.49. It would cost you more not to physically own the books.

Friday Fun: More Cowbell


Via my bandmate Porter -- someone at Monoprice had some fun with the description of this item:
Handheld Cow Bell - 7-1/2-inch - Black
Don't Fear becoming the quintessential American Band. You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet until you've seen yourself on stage using this 7-1/2" Handheld Cow Bell from Monoprice!

Whether you are on stage or just Down on the Corner, the cow bell sound evokes a positive, upbeat mood, which is the perfect accent or main beat for latin-American style music, Funk, or just good old American Rock and Roll!

This welded steel cow bell measures 7.5" tall, 4.3" wide, and 3.0" across at the opening. The handle measures 2" wide, 0.8" tall, and 0.5" deep, allowing for a comfortable grip with two fingers.

So, add more cow bell to your performances and you'll be on the road to fame and fortune! Just keep an eye out for the Taxman and his Evil Ways. What could be more Logical?

From the Band to the Fan


Wilco is doing something I haven't seen from a well-known act before -- selling its used gear directly to its fans/the general public via an online store.

It appears to be a success. Since launching the store on November 30th, the band has sold more than $100k in music gear and memorabilia, selling nearly item it offered for sale. That's not pure profit, of course, as they had to purchase all of that gear at some point, perhaps for as much or more than what they're selling it for. But in an e-mail discussion with some musician friends, an interesting question was raised -- is some of this gear selling at a premium over its base market value as equipment, due to the association with Wilco?

While the prices for some of the vintage guitars seem in line with standard going rates, one knowledgeable friend (who has assembled plenty of "partscaster" guitars) observed, "When you pay $750 for a partscaster of unknown origin parts, you're definitely just buying 'Pat Sansone's guitar' for that price."

Yet neither of us had a problem with it. After all, if an instrument can command a premium price due to its association with a particular musician, why shouldn't that musician realize it? It's certainly better than a third party purchasing the gear and then selling it at a markup. As my friend noted, "People want to feel connections to their musical heroes, and I'm betting every one of those buyers is totally psyched."

I don't know if Wilco planned this as a one-time event or if it will be an ongoing venture, but given the band's success with it, I'm wondering if other acts will emulate the idea and open their gear stores. If so, will they have similar success? Or is Wilco a somewhat unique act, with a devoted audience that is more likely to seek a connection by buying its gear?

Spotify Per-Stream Payments for July 2015



As the music-streaming service takes pains to point out, Spotify doesn't pay a set per-stream amount to labels and artists, as its business model is based on a revenue share, not a set streaming royalty. Yet that revenue share does, on a monthly basis, convert to a number for each stream. (And it appears that Spotify might have a fixed minimum rate in some countries.)

The following numbers are culled from reports from CD Baby, my digital distributor, and have been adjusted to account for the 9% commission it charges. I received the following per-stream amounts for plays of my self-released music in the Spotify catalog during the month of July:
US: .68 cents, .67875 cents, .17 cents

France: .78 cents

Italy: .67 cents

Spain: .515 cents

Sweden: .772 cents, .77 cents

Weighted average for all July 2015 streams: .5867 cents
For the US, it seems obvious that the two larger amounts represent streams from premium subscribers, while the smaller number is from subscribers to the free ad-supported service. The difference between the two numbers is small enough that I attribute it to rounding/truncation of very small numbers in the CD Baby report, but I opted not to average these numbers and am including both for sake of completeness. Ditto for the two different numbers for streams in Sweden.

To put the above numbers in context, the average amount I've received for all Spotify streams since August 2009 (from all countries and subscriptions levels) is .4301 cents per stream. It's also worth noting that the major label groups have ownership stakes in Spotify and may well have negotiated different (i.e. better) revenue share arrangments for their catalogs. Finally, these numbers don't include the smaller payments from Spotify to publishers/composers via performance rights organizations such as BMI and ASCAP.

Confirmed: Apple Music is Paying Two Tenths of a Cent for Streams by Trial Subscribers


After this summer's backlash over Apple's plan to NOT pay royalties for Apple Music streams by trial subscribers, the company announced it would pay a per-stream royalty of 0.2 cents for such plays.

Our first Apple Music royalties just appeared in our CD Baby account and I can confirm that, for the month of August, Apple paid a per-stream royalty of exactly 0.2 cents. No indication yet on what we'll receive for streams by paying subscribers.

Beats Music Beats Spotify


In terms of subscribers and market share, Beats Music (acquired by Apple as part of its purchase of Beats in May of last year) is way behind Spotify. But there's one area where Beats Music appears to be ahead -- the per-stream payout to artists/labels.

The first payouts from Beats Music just appeared in my CD Baby account. After adjusting for CD Baby's commission, for December 2014, we received 1.801 cents per stream. For comparison, our per-stream payout from Spotify averages out to 0.428 cents for the past few years:


On its support site, Beats states that its payout rate will higher than that of other streaming services as, unlike Spotify, it has no free option:
We pay higher royalties than the other services because we are a paid subscription-only service (in other words, we have no free version of our service that we have to subsidize).
The payouts we've received from Spotify have varied greatly, as some are coming from premium subscribers and some from free subscribers. For the latter, the payout amount is based on a share of advertising revenue and is very small. However, our initial payout from Beats included two rates -- approximately 1.926 cents for some streams and 1.300 cents for others.

My only guess here is that the higher rate is for listens by monthly subscribers who pay $9.99 a month (or $119.88 a year) and the lower rate for listens from annual subscribers who pay $99.99 a year, though the payout difference is greater than the pricing differential for the two plans.

Free Holiday Music from the Layaways


My apologies for the light blogging in 2014 -- you can expect more frequent updates in 2015!

If you're in the mood for some holiday music, "Maybe Next Year" from my band the Layaways is available for free download from NoiseTrade:
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You can also stream the album at Spotify.

Punching U2's Gift Horse in the Mouth


Zack Huggins/Flickr

Andrew Sullivan has a good roundup of opinions on U2's "junk mail" (to quote Bono) distribution strategy. It links to a post from Marco Arment, who wonders why U2/Apple just didn't go with an opt-in strategy, instead of the opt-out approach that was used.

However, U2 and Apple actually did that back in February, with a 24-hour free iTunes giveaway of the song Invisible, which resulted in more than 3 million downloaded tracks. My guess is that the band already had a decent idea of how many downloads might result from an opt-in strategy and wanted to go bigger.

There's no going back on that decision, as the mandatory gift horse is already out of the barn. So we're left with the following question: Was this a better strategy, in terms of money and listeners, for U2 than a standard album release?

According to Wikipedia, the band's last album, No Line on the Horizon, sold more than five million copies worldwide. An impressive number, but it's less than each of their three previous albums. We don't know how much U2 and its label received in payment from Apple, but solely from an attention standpoint, it seems safe to assume that Songs of Innocence is receiving a wider listening audience. (And Billboard's Glenn Peoples notes that the band's back catalog is getting a boost as well.) Though given the backlash, it also seems safe to assume this will be the last time the approach is used.

One final thought: Given my age/demographic it seems impossible, but a large proportion of the complaint Tweets about the album listed here are from people who apparently were previously unaware of U2!

U2: It's Free for You, But We Got Paid


In a post on the band's website, Bono makes it clear that the free album is a giveaway from Apple, not U2:
It's also free to everyone on iTunes thanks to Apple. To celebrate the ten year anniversary of our iPod commercial, they bought it as a gift to give to all their music customers. Free, but paid for. Because if no-one's paying anything for it, we’re not sure "free" music is really that free. It usually comes at a cost to the art form and the artist...which has big implications, not for us in U2, but for future musicians and their music...all the songs that have yet to be written by the talents of the future...who need to make a living to write them.
So did U2 (and Island Records) receive a flat fee for distribution of the album to more than 500 million iTunes customers, or is Apple paying a per-download amount, based on the number of iTunes customers who actually receive the album? Either way, with cash reserves of more than $160 billion (as of June), Apple can certainly afford it.

Update: According to this NY Times story, it was a flat fee:
To release U2's album free, Apple paid the band and Universal an unspecified fee as a blanket royalty and committed to a marketing campaign for the band worth up to $100 million, according to several people briefed on the deal.

More Thoughts on iTunes Radio and Music Sales


After an e-mail discussion with my bandmate Porter about last week's iTunes Radio post, I'm wondering if there are two factors in play here:

1. It's certainly possible that iTunes Radio listeners are buying more music than they would have otherwise purchased.

2. But music purchasers might be a shrinking group. That is, as more people use Spotify and other "on demand" streaming services, the total number of music fans who feel the need to own any specific song is getting smaller.

Hence, iTunes Radio could be increasing music purchases among its listeners, but any such gains aren't enough to offset the overall trend of decreasing download sales. (This is all conjecture on my part, but it reconciles the intuitive idea that iTunes Radio listeners would be more likely to purchase downloads with the continued decline in music download sales since its introduction.)

Does iTunes Radio Increase Music Sales?


Back in 2009, my band the Layaways released a digital-only holiday album. While we sell some tracks from the album every year, 2013 was, by far, our best season ever for download sales. I was stumped -- we always get some holiday airplay on Internet stations like Soma FM and the occasional spin of a few tracks on terrestrial college radio stations, but there was no evidence of increased airplay in 2013 and we hadn't made any additional promotional efforts for the album. The mystery was solved when someone tweeted that he had discovered the record via iTunes Radio. Our version of "O Christmas Tree" had been added to the "Rockin' Holiday" station, where it was receiving regular spins: It seems very likely that the large increase in sales of our song (relative to previous years) was a direct result of the iTunes Radio spins it received. The big question, of course, is does this single anecdotal example represent an overall trend -- is iTunes Radio increasing the sales of music downloads? It seems intuitive that ease of purchase -- you're already in iTunes and you can click to buy right there, as opposed to being directed from another website or interface to iTunes or Amazon MP3 -- might boost sales. Yet that doesn't appear to be the case. As Glenn Peoples reported in Billboard last year, the introduction of iTunes Radio did nothing to halt a year-long trend of declining download sales in 2013. In our case, iTunes Radio was a net positive, because more than 100,000 listeners heard a song they probably wouldn't have otherwise known about, and a small percentage of those listeners purchased the track. But as noted in Billboard, a recent study by Music Forecasting makes the case that listeners are using iTunes Radio for a "lean-back" passive listening experience, one that is unlikely to result in large increases in music purchases. (The full PDF of the report is here.) In addition to the download sales, we also received a payout from Apple for each spin of the song. As reported last year by the Future of Music Coalition and Digital Music News, Apple opted to make a direct payment to artists/labels for digital performance royalties instead of taking the compulsory path and making payments to SoundExchange. For 103,874 spins of "O Christmas Tree" on iTunes Radio, we received $114.99 (before the deduction for CD Baby's commission). That translates to a little more than 0.11 cents per play. That's slightly less than the "$0.0013 per song plus 15% of net advertising revenue for the first year" spelled out by Apple's contract with indie labels, though I'm uncertain if that rate also includes payments Apple makes to music publishers. After I receive my BMI statement for the quarter, I can calculate the total payment we received for each iTunes Radio play. [...]

Some Advice for Writers...


...that probably goes for musicians as well:
"Also get a job; eating is a good habit and you will never make enough of a living as a writer to support a family. Be honest with yourself about the size of your gift. Expect no money but be diligent about sending pieces out for publication. All money is gravy."
-- Brian Doyle, via the Dish.

One downside of digital music stores, which provided instant worldwide music distribution to anyone who wanted it, is that they also introduced a new level of expectations for musicians. Before digital music, a local band might sell some tapes or CDs at gigs or a friendly record store, but there was zero expectation that music sales would provide any real income. However, having your music available to the entire world creates the hope that people around the world are going to buy it. Yet the overwhelming majority of self-released musicians (as well as most musicians on major labels!) simply aren't going to sell a lot of music.

I'm In with the In Crowd


A presentation by Alan B. Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for the White House, highlights an experiment that confirms something I've long believed to be true -- that listener perceptions of the popularity of a song have a huge influence on its actual/subsequent popularity:
Now let's see what happened when the download counts were flipped, so that the new participants thought the least popular song was actually the most popular. As you can see, the download count for the least popular song grew much more quickly when it was artificially placed at the top of the list. And the download count for the most popular song grew much more slowly when it was artificially placed at the bottom of the list.

In the alternative world that began with the true rankings reversed, the least popular song did surprisingly well, and, in fact, held onto its artificially bestowed top ranking. The most popular song rose in the rankings, so fundamental quality did have some effect. But, overall -- across all 48 songs -- the final ranking from the experiment that began with the reversed popularity ordering bore absolutely no relationship to the final ranking from the experiment that began with the true ordering. This demonstrates that the belief that a song is popular has a profound effect on its popularity, even if it wasn't truly popular to start with.
More good stuff here.

Tuesday Odds and Ends: A YouTube Music Streaming Service


YouTube is already the largest music-streaming platform, but it looks like it will launch a dedicated Spotify-style streaming service.

Felix Salmon on Amanda Palmer's TED Talk and content economics:
There are basically three ways to go about this. You can put up a paywall; you can ask for donations; or you can sell non-digital things to your digital audience.

On its face, Palmer's talk is about the second strategy, but in fact it's about all three. (And yes, I’m the "financial blogger" referred to in the talk.) For instance, when it comes to online publishing, why are paywalls more common than tip jars, despite the fact that they're much more difficult to implement? Palmer does a great job of walking us through the answer to that question: there's something shameful, there's a whiff of the panhandler, in asking strangers for money.
Nicholas Carr highlights another study showing that students prefer paper textbooks to digital versions, despite the seeming advantages of the latter format (portability, interactivity, etc.):
However, researchers often overlook students' personal beliefs about how they learn and study most effectively. Their resistance to replacing paper textbooks with e-textbooks together with an ongoing desire to be able to print electronic content suggests that paper-based information serves students' needs better in the educational context.
And if you missed it, this Music Ally story from last month rounds up a slew of reports on artist payments from Spotify (including ones from this blog).

Monday Odds and Ends


Amazon has received a patent for a method of selling "used" digital files. More coverage from Wired and a statement from ReDigi. (The firm had previously indicated that it would roll out a marketplace for pre-owned digital books.)

Is Apple testing an IOS-powered watch?

The Businessweek story on Doug Morris.

And the Gizmodo story on how Monster Cable, the lawsuit-happy purveyor of expensive audio and video cables, fared poorly in its business relationship with Beats Audio.

Friday Flashback Fun: The Cars Perform "Let's Go" in 1979


The Cars perform one of my all-time favorite songs during a 1979 appearance on the Midnight Special:

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Wednesday Odds and Ends


My Bloody Valentine is selling its new album (its first in TWENTY TWO years) direct to fans. The digital version is album-only, with a fixed price ($16) for your choice of three file format choices:
16bit 44.1 K WAV - This is CD quality with no digital compression. i.e. it's exactly like a CD. This format may not be compatible with some devices.
320kbps MP3 - This format is compatible with most devices.
24bit 96 K WAV - This format may not be compatible with some devices.
Meanwhile Prince is hawking his latest singles for 88 cents a track.

Audiogalaxy (recently acquired by Dropbox) pulled the plug on its music streaming app.

In the WSJ, discovering music via fitness classes -- Vanilla Ice attempts to cash in:
Zumba fans have already helped revive the career of Rob VanWinkle -- better known as the rapper Vanilla Ice. Last year, Mr. VanWinkle rerecorded his 1990s hit "Ice Ice Baby" with a Latin flavor and Zumba-friendly tempo, then starred in a video featuring Zumba choreography. Released last August, the single has sold nearly 17,000 copies.
And the Atlantic has the audio of the oldest playable recording, from 1878. The rhythmic noises at the beginning (the foil was stored folded for more than a century) make it sound vaguely techno.

A Few Quick Thoughts on the NY Times Spotify Article


I know I've promised a long-form post on Spotify, but in the meantime, some quick observations on this week's NY Times article on the economics of music streaming:

1. Mainstream press -- please don't conflate streaming services with personalized Internet radio (" listeners begin to move from CDs and downloads to streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and YouTube."). Spotify and Pandora are cousins, not siblings.

2. With all due respect to Sean Parker, the glory days of music sales in 1990s aren't coming back. It was a unique time, when consumers were willing to repurchase music they already owned (on LP and cassette) in a more-expensive format (CD). Even if a magical new format is rolled out, one that makes average consumers want to upgrade, my guess is that many of them would manage to acquire the content without paying for it.

3. To its credit, the article does mention (but doesn't emphasize) what I think is the most important point about the Spotify model -- the coupling of artist/label compensation with listener consumption, as opposed to consumers pre-paying for a lifetime of listening via the purchase of a download or CD:
"Unlike the royalties from a sale, these payments accrue every time a listener clicks on a song, year after year."
4. The per-play amounts paid to artists/labels are, as everyone knows, quite small. As noted in the article, self-released artist Zoe Keating reports an average payment of 0.42 cents per play. When you adjust that number for the 9% commission she pays to CD Baby, you end with 0.47 cents, which is almost identical to the most recent numbers I've posted here for Spotify plays of the Layaways.

Should Spotify pay more? In an ideal world it would, but the company is currently paying 70% of its revenue to rights holders and publishers. In addition to the freebie service, it offers two subscription tiers in the U.S. -- $4.99 a month for an ad-free service and $9.99 a month premium service with higher sound quality and a mobile option. Based on a 0.47 cents figure (and assuming that the current mix of free, $4.99, and $9.99 subscribers remained stable) Spotify would need to increase its U.S. subscription prices to $10.62 and $21.26 to accommodate a one cent per-play payout.

That larger number is still less than the $30 that Sam Broe, the 26-year-old music fan quoted at the beginning of the article, used to spend each month on music purchases before becoming a Spotify subscriber. But would he -- and other current/potential Spotify subscribers -- be willing to pay it?

A Quick Review of NoiseTrade


I've been testing the NoiseTrade site/widget for the past week and, for the most part, really like it. NoiseTrade is a promotional platform, not a digital music store, though some of its functionality overlaps with the features offered by sites such as Bandcamp.

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The concept is simple -- artists can create albums of up to 20 tracks, which listeners can download in exchange for providing an e-mail address and zip code. Albums are downloaded as zip files of 192k mp3s. All downloads are free, with the option to tip the artist $1 to $25. Labels can also use the service to create sampler albums. The service is free to use, with NoiseTrade taking a 20% cut of any tip money. Artists or labels receive the remaining 80%, after any credit card or PayPal fees.

The site is well designed, and individual artist/label pages can link to official websites and social media sites, as well as multiple stores (iTunes, Amazon MP3, eMusic, etc.). Yet NoiseTrade doesn't try to do everything and doesn't offer a ton of flexibility. There's only widget design available and the suggested tip amount always defaults to $6. And you can't allow users to download individual tracks, only the entire album, though you can set up a single song as an "album." Some artists offer a full album, a sampler from a single album, or a compilation of tracks from multiple releases. Whatever you do, it's one album per artist name, and you can't create pages/widgets for multiple albums without resorting to alternate artist names. Josh Rouse, for example, has an album under his own name and one as Josh Rouse and the Long Vacations.

While most of the artists using the service aren't well known, there are a decent number of names you might recognize, including Andrew Bird, Sloan, Aimee Mann, Sufjan Stevens, and the Civil Wars. At the risk of sounding slightly hypocritical (I'm hawking my own unknown music) that's a good thing, as even adventurous music fans want to see a few familiar names on a music site.

My overall take is that while NoiseTrade only does a few things, it does them well. (Though that makes me wish it had more features, mainly the ability to upload multiple albums.) I'd love to learn more details about how well the tipping system works on average -- the percentage of people who tip and the average amount. The total NoiseTrade downloads for the Layaways are still too few to make any sort of estimate, and it seems likely that tipping rate/amount will vary, based on the quality of the individual release. But I'll post an update after the holiday season about our download count and the tipping rate.

Thursday Odds and Ends: Apple Goes to 11


Walt Mossberg of the WSJ likes the new iTunes:
I've been testing this major new version, called iTunes 11, and I consider it a significant improvement in the look, feel, speed and function of the program, which had become somewhat bloated, sluggish and dense over the years as new features were added.
But Slate's Farhad Manjoo isn't a fan of the new version, or iTunes in general:
Is the new iTunes any better? Not markedly, to my eye. I've been using it for a few hours now. Naturally, the interface has been completely redesigned, though it's too early for me to tell whether the new version is better or just different. Now, instead of a pane of options on the left side, you click between functions using buttons and menus on the top. Is this a genuine improvement, or just a face-lift masking the rot beneath? I suspect the latter: While some parts of iTunes move a little bit faster (the iOS app management screen, for example, used to be unusably slow; now it's OK) most of it still feels lumbering.
Also from Slate, some advice on gift wrapping digital books that could also apply to digital music. Suggestion six seems like a really bad idea.

And in the latest issue of TapeOp magazine, Jeff Lynne says he recorded an album note-for-note ELO remakes because "...there was something I didn't quite get right about the sound of them in those days." But this reviewer hits on something else that probably factored into the decision -- it gives Lynne a new set of master recordings (that he, not his original label, owns) for licensing purposes. I can't fault him (or any musician) for taking steps to maximize earnings from a back catalog, though acts like Squeeze have been more upfront about this particular practice. Glenn Tilbrook explains the motivation for the band's re-make album from 2010:
"Originally, it wasn't going to be an album," says Tilbrook, 52. "It was going to be a series of rerecordings that we could offer to movie and ad people as an alternative to the original versions. But the closer we got to the end of it, the more I realized that we put a big amount of effort into it, and it stood up on its own, as a record."

Tuesday Odds and Ends


Some mind-boggling download stats from the New Yorker story on the live archives of the Grateful Dead:
Most users merely stream the music; it's a hundred cassette trays, in the Cloud. But you can download some of it, too. Some have been downloaded so often they'd be gold albums, were someone paying for them. (Anything the Dead release commercially gets removed from the Archive.) A mediocre recording of an unremarkable 1979 gig at Madison Square Garden has been downloaded almost seven hundred thousand times.
A nice bit from a Grantland story on Lindsey Buckingham:
It never ceases to amaze me how much new music is released by quantifiably popular artists -- and Buckingham's sales statistics are better than most -- that you never hear about in the media. It reminds you just how futile it is to even pretend that you can cover popular music at all comprehensively. At best, you can rope off a small portion of the overall landscape and convince yourself that the rest of it doesn't exist.
And this one's old (from January) but still worth a look. Nicholas Carr has a suggestion for publishers -- free ebooks:
Readers today are forced to choose between buying a physical book or an ebook, but a lot of them would really like to have both on hand – so they’d be able, for instance, to curl up with the print edition while at home (and keep it on their shelves) but also be able to load the ebook onto their e-reader when they go on a trip. In fact, bundling a free electronic copy with a physical product would have a much bigger impact in the book business than in the music business.

Wednesday Odds and Ends: Customer Acquisition Costs for Music Subscriptions, Indie Band Digital Sales, and Pandora's Payments to Artists


As far as I know, Rdio is the only music streaming/subscription service that has reached out to artists with an affiliate program that makes payments when an artist refers new customers to the service. Yet it's certainly not the only music service that pays referral fees. The MOG streaming service pays a $5 bounty when a referred trial subscriber converts to paid. And eMusic's affiliate program is even more generous. It doesn't even require a paid subscription, as it pays a $6 referral fee for every trial subscription that is referred by a website, no purchase necessary.

One quibble with New York Magazine's "Music's New Math" piece: the breakdown of CD sales vs. digital and streaming sales seems completely off, at least at the lowest level. The table for the DIY band shows CD sales of 500 discs, but only 200 downloads and 200 song streams of the tracks from the album. If you're selling 500 discs (and have any sort of online presence), your music will be streamed more than 200 times. Also see the longer magazine piece on Grizzly Bear. (Thanks to Aaron for the link!)

Finally, as Glenn Peoples pointed out, despite the numbers listed in this Tim Westergren blog post, Pandora doesn't make direct payments to artists. Pandora pays digital performance royalties to SoundExchange, which then pays the bulk of that money to artists and copyright holders.

Tuesday Odds and Ends


I'm one day late, but happy 30th birthday to the CD player!

How much can you get for your iPod? A personal finance blogger shares the different offer amounts for a used iPod Touch.

And Glenn Peoples reports on Rdio's customer acquisition via artists plan:
Details of the program, first revealed at in May, have been kept simple. Any artist can sign up (and get a complimentary Rdio subscription). Artists will be paid $10 for every new subscriber they bring to the service. The payment is the same regardless of country, subscription tier and the subscriber's length of stay.

Updated Spotify Artist/Label Per-Stream Payments


My 2011 post on Spotify payouts has received a ton of hits from a link in this NY Times piece on the royalties paid by Spotify and Pandora. So I thought it was time for some updated numbers, based on our most recent payouts from CD Baby.

For streams from August, 2009 to June, 2012, we've received an average per-stream payout of $.0046623 or .46623 cents, before CD Baby's 9% commission. The highest per-stream payout we've seen was $.011926 or 1.1926 cents and the lowest payout was $.0000237253 or .00237253 cents. (That's ignoring a handful of early "payouts" that rounded out to 0.0000000000 in CD Baby's accounting system!) My guess is that payout rates vary because of different Spotify plans (free and premium), differences in subscription prices for each region, and currency exchange rates.
Spotify Per-Stream Payments
August 2009 to June 2012

average: $.0046623
high: $.011926
low: $.0000237253
Keep in mind that these payouts are for self-released artists (or small labels) with digital distribution via CD Baby. The payout rates for the major label groups, which have an ownership stake in Spotify, may well be different.

It's difficult to discern a general trend in the payout rates over time, though, in most cases, the lowest rates were in 2009 and early 2010. The all-time high rate of $.011926 was for streams in November, 2011 and our most-recent payouts, for June, 2012, were $.008246668 per stream.