How much do music artists earn online?

I rediscovered some very interesting research published by David McCandless in April over at the Information is Beautiful website. They created a thought provoking infographic showing how much money musicians make in the new digital marketplaces. It’s amazing how non-profitable services like Spotify and Rhapsody are for anyone creating music.

The comments in the original post touched one aspect of distributing your music online that is close to heart for us here at Flattr – giving music away for volunteer donations. Essentially a pay-as-much-as-you-like approach.

Some big bands have done it (Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead spring to mind), tons of smaller, independent bands do it all the time in the hopes of getting more exposure, increasing their fan base, and getting people to come to their concerts.

It would be interesting to hear from bands who are using Flattr to get their fans to support them. Anyone willing to share their experience?

Tim Rutherford-Johnson took IIB’s numbers and added some more meat to the bones:

IIB’s chart doesn’t factor in the relative popularity of digital streams over physical purchases. You might need nearly 4,000-times as many streams on Spotify as you do physical purchases, but is that number achievable? How does it look compared to what is actually happening? “A deeper look at how much musicians make online

The whole digital marketplace revenue share with the creators and alternative ways of getting paid for your content online is a topic I’ll keep my eyes on. Expect to see more.

5 thoughts on “How much do music artists earn online?

  1. I’m hobby musician (as ps) and netlabel owner (Enough Records).

    I can tell you David McCandless analysis, despite already outdated, is quite accurate. Digital sales make more money then physical shares. Both for indie and major labels alike. And donate what you like (with a suggested price) usually does bring more money then a mear donate button. Howhever, media visibility and prior name the artist/label has is still quite essential to the campaign’s success. Regardless if the music is good or not, if you don’t get a snowball effect going you don’t go very far.

    Labels like mine, that operate for fun, paying from personal bank accounts, still have their place in the music world, lot of good music out there waiting to be discovered. We use the donations to invest on more promo material to give away (cdrs, dvds, flyers).

    It’s a very crowded market, lots of music being offered, not that many people open to discovering it. Hard to get media support to pay attention to your news and releases, we been focusing on getting peoples attention individually instead (used to be more focused on myspace, nowdays more about facebook).

    Also, a lot of the music made nowdays is aimed at rapid consumption, you find it, you like it, you loop it a few times, maybe copy it to your ipod and then you forget about it in a couple of months. Listeners don’t download as much, they listen to streams and if it’s really really _really_ good, then they might download it.

    To give a more direct feedback: i think flattr buttons on soundcloud for example are nice move. Would be nice to see them popup in other services where complete albums are present available for stream (archive.org, sonicsquirrel, clearbits.net, last.fm)

    But to be honest our experiments with flattr didnt go so well, it worked nice in the beggining (6/9 months ago when it was new to everyone, but nowdays it’s alot harder to get new hits)

    I believe more exposure in music discovery sites to flattr might be quintessential to change this trend, to make the standard user know about flattr and start using it more.

    Flattr’s basic interface to search the content submitted still feels very beta, it’s hard to dig through to find undiscovered material. When you do find it’s usually something that has already been flattr’ed alot, which is counter ideal to supporting diversity and rewarding new content.

    Just my 2 cents.

    Final words:
    to the flattr devs: keep up the cool work :)
    to the flattr users: check out our latest release :)
    http://enoughrecords.scene.org

  2. I’ve just discovered Flattr for Twitter and think it could be VERY important and cool for musicians (and everyone else) using micropayments. It’s a DIRECT link between author and fan giving the author the ability to add someone to their info channel without having to deal with email even.
    Really, I think Flattr is the game changer and my main concern is what you’re going to do when the Acquisition comes calling.

  3. ps – thanks for that really valuable feedback. Quite clearly our challenge is both getting more people to sign up with Flattr and more sites adopting the buttons. Music services is clearly one large group that we continue to talk to.

    What do you think contributed to the decrease of Flattr among your visitors after the initial spike?

    John – let us know if you decide to experiment with Flattr somewhere, would be very interesting to hear how it works out for you. And thanks for your words of encouragement.

  4. Siim Teller: most of our early regular flattr’ers were friends of the label (with content to present themselfs) who were also testing out flattr early on (while it was still beta and you had to flattr back in order to get your content), the model didnt work as well as initially hoped for most of them, so they slowly started abandoning flattr and didnt bother come back even after it became free for content submission. this behaviour is normal (people test things temporarily and come and go with the trends). we did get a few other new supporters since then, which corelates directly to the general acceptance growth of flattr itself, but the support per month is still lower then it used to be. my theory is that it’s lack of global exposure. we do advertise a flattr reminder to our followers on the last week of each month but i believe the real issue is people who use flattr arent finding our music that easily since we rarely show up on the default top of the last 24h list.

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