Just came across this update to the "Selling Out: How Much Do Music Artists Earn Online" infographic via the splendid WFMU. Digital Music News has the full story on it.
Image from Digital Music News
Unsurprisingly doing stuff DIY comes out on top. Goes without saying really doesn't it. yeah, a major label probably has the infrastructure to enable bands to sell millions but this blog isn't really about that kind of MTV world. In all honesty, it's not really even about bands scraping a living (although there's nothing wrong with that). It's more about DIY punk type bands managing not to lose money on doing a record or covering the costs of a tour.
Once again, Spotify comes out as the worst. Someone in the comments posted another infographic showing how much Spotify pays out to artists and it's a reasonably respectable 70% of it's profits. The idea of being paid a small amount per stream does make sense but at the moment the number of streams you'd need to get is just ridiculous. Especially for small DIY bands where you'd consider a youtube video to have gone 'viral' if it had more than a thousand plays. The only way I could conceive of it working would be someone created a DIY version. Say you paid £10 a month for the power violence channel or £10 a month for Swedish D Beat channel. Probably not going to happen anytime soon so let's move back up to the top of the infographic where the self released music is.
I ran a few numbers on equivalent prices in Bandcamp to see how that would work. With Bandcamp they take a cut and there's the paypal fee as well. The cheapest paypal rate is a straight 5%. Bandcamp's fee is 15% which falls to 10% if you're selling quite a bit (basically enough that you'd be making this fictitious minimum wage figure).
Let's begin with selling the digital version at $9.99 which the other digital and CD rates are set at on the infographic. Bandcamp wins! At Bandcamp's top rate of a 15% cut plus paypal's 5% you'd need to selling 145 copies. That drops to just 136 copies if you're selling enough to get Bandcamp's 10% rate.
Now, in all honesty, a tenner for a digital album just really isn't on in my book. Let's drop the price down to $5. It comes out as only slightly more than selling a $10 CD (and no-one buys CDs). You'd need to sell either 290 or 273 copies (depending on Bandcamp's rate) at $5 to make that minimum wage figure.
It's one of the main reasons I'm not a fan of itunes. I say I'm not a fan, I absolutely refuse to buy from itunes. Going with the fact loads of people I know are trying to offload boxes of CDs as they don't want them it seems there's only two options left: vinyl and bandcamp (or other independent digital distribution). Pretty much the whole argument of this blog that digital can make a big dent in the cost of doing a DIY record.