Music Industry

How Much is a Stream of a Song Actually Worth?

There’s still a lot of FUD around the subject of streaming as people continue to equate a single listen to a song on a stream with a single purchase of a digital file. This is a silly apples-and-oranges comparison and should never be made. A site called Musiqware tries to set the record straight.

Last week, the UK’s Music Managers Forum published a report “Dissecting The Digital Dollar”, which “set out to explain […] how digital income is shared between each stakeholder in the wider music industry”. It is a good report, in which they outline seven key issues and raised 15 questions for the industry to think about.

But they failed to include the most important issue: The value of a single stream. Without that point, all further discussion is rather meaningless. Whatever percentage is applied to nothing, it’ll still be nothing.

The music industry will need to consider the per-stream value that any percentages are going to be applied to. The MMF report totally fails to address that point, and puts the “Division of streaming revenue” at the top of their list of issues.

So let’s look at a number of different price points that are currently floating around the industry:

It’s important that you keep reading.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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.

Alan Cross has 38031 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

One thought on “How Much is a Stream of a Song Actually Worth?

  • My biggest beef is my favourite artists are being penalized because I’m not streaming them all day every day. When I buy a record, I don’t put it on repeat. I play it through every now and then or play one track when it’s wedged in my head and I need it out. With streaming, my listening is so sporadic most of my ten bucks is probably going right into Spotify’s pocket. The only reason I keep paying it is because for songs I don’t already own, it’s better the artist sees that fraction of a penny than for me to watch a pirated lyric video on YouTube.


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