Albums Make More Money From Streaming Services Than From Downloads? Yes. Eventually.

Dozens of artists from David Byrne and Thom Yorke on down have decried streaming music services (Spotify, Rdio, Deezer, Songza, etc.) as evil, the killers of art and destroyers of cashflow for music creators.  But is streaming really all that bad?  Maybe not.

In an article called “Dollar-and-Cents Secrets of Music Streaming, The Wall Street Journal argues that there could be more money for everyone–eventually–in streaming albums than through downloads.

Data reviewed by The Wall Street Journal showed that one major record company makes more per year, on average, from paying customers of streaming services like Spotify or Rdio than it does from the average customer who buys downloads, CDs or both.

The average “premium” subscription customer in the U.S. was worth about $16 a year to this company, while the average buyer of digital downloads or physical music was worth about $14.

Other data from the same company showed that in the long run, even many individual albums eventually make more money from streaming services than they do from downloads.

Underscore that phrase, in the long run.

This is an argument I haven’t seen before.  It’s DEFINITELY worth the read.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “Albums Make More Money From Streaming Services Than From Downloads? Yes. Eventually.

  • December 29, 2013 at 6:19 am

    It’s just a different payment structure, most of the detractors don’t even seem to know what they’re talking about. Instead of making money quickly, it just takes longer, with each play from spotify or songza or torch music contributing to the final number.


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