[This was my weekly column for GlobalNews.ca. – AC]
The future of music is streaming. It’s just too convenient for fans and too profitable for record labels to ever think of it going away.
The ability to frictionlessly access millions of songs from the whole of human history — the fabled “celestial jukebox” predicted years ago — has been a reality for a generation. And with labels deriving over 65 per cent of their revenues from streams, they love it.
Just last week, Sony had to boost its annual music revenue forecast by $500 million because so many people are streaming music during the pandemic. Universal, the biggest of the three majors, is earning around $20 million a day from streaming. Add in Warner and you have the majors raking in more than $1 million per hour. (All dollars U.S.)
The problem, however, is that little of this is trickling down to the artist. And with touring completely cut off by the pandemic, creators need all the revenue they can find. Unfortunately, little of it coming from streaming.
This is why there’s a new petition in the U.S. called Justice at Spotify, which is seeking to boost the minimum payout per stream to at least one cent. That represents a significant increase from the current rate, which averages to around $0.004 per listen — that’s 0.4 cents or four-tenths of a penny. At this rate, a musician would need around 250 streams to earn just a dollar, or about 650,000 streams a month to make the equivalent of $15 an hour. An increase to one cent per stream would — well, do the math.