Sunday 12 April 2015

You can make more off streaming sites...if you actually try...

Something that I've never really understood are free previews. I recently got a free preview of Sirius Satellite in my vehicle. Obviously I enjoyed the new listening options in my vehicle, but I only found out about the preview because I accidentally hit the Satellite button on my stereo. A similar thing recently happened with free previews of some specialty channels. Again, I only found out about the free preview because I accidentally entered in the wrong channel when trying to change the channel. Again, a happy accident...but why does discovering these free previews always seem to happen by accident? The whole point of free preview is to entice you into watching or listening and potentially influence you into wanting to keep the channel or satellite service once the preview is done. But how are you supposed to know about the preview if they don't promote it. Sure maybe they sent out a mailer, but who reads those? I have seen some commercials promoting the free preview of the channel...but surprisingly those commercials were on that channel. If you're going to make something available for someone to watch or listen to, you need to let them know that the option is there for them to take advantage of. 

It is fairly common knowledge that artists don’t make much from people listening to their music on streaming sites like Spotify, Rdio, Deezer, etc. Thanks to media attention drawn to this fact by artists like Taylor Swift, the general public is also now aware of how little artists get paid when someone listens to their track via streaming site. Has this stopped the general public from streaming music? No. Streaming sites are becoming more and more popular. They have become a major component within the music industry.

Alan Cross recently posted an article about streaming sites and talked about how you can’t compare paid downloads to streaming royalties because they are two completely different things. He also addressed some common myths and pointed out that the industry, more specifically the labels also played a major role in the low payouts. (Click here to see the full article)

But I believe there is one other factor impacting how much is paid out to artists that wasn't touched on. Artists don't promote that their music is available to be listened to on these streaming sites. Yes the payout per listen is fairly low, but it is still more than nothing. So why don’t artists promote that their music can be heard on these sites? For whatever reason, I can’t remember ever seeing an artists promoting the fact that their music is available for streaming on any of the streaming sites. Sure I’ve seen links to Soundcloud and Bandcamp shared and posted, but rarely have I seen a “Listen to me on Spotify” post with a link. I asked a couple artists why they don’t promote that their on Spotify and all of them had the same response “Well…we don’t make much off there so why would we?”

Nothing against Soundcloud or Bandcamp, I think both are great options for artists to reach new audiences, but you don’t make any money when someone listens to your song on either of those sites. Sure Bandcamp gives the option to buy the music and Souncloud has links to iTunes and Google Play, but so do the majority of the Streaming options. The big difference is that when someone listens to your song on one of the streaming services you do get paid. Not much, but more than nothing.

One artist I work with has a track that has over 500 listens on Soundcloud. That may not seem like much when you see artists on Soundcloud with millions of listens, but even if you take 500 and times it by the average rate paid out from streaming sites (which my calculations says is about $0.004) you get  $2.00…again not much, but Soundcloud doesn’t payout when people listen to your music. What if you were one of the lucky artists whose tracks has been listened to over a million times on Soundcloud? Doing the math that works out to $4000. May not seem like much for a million listeners, but compared to being paid $0 for the same amount of listens, suddenly $4000 doesn’t seem that bad…

Some artists have argued “Well, you need a subscription to listen to stuff on Rdio or Spotify”. No you don’t. Having a subscription typically gives the subscriber no commercials, unlimited skips and access to some other features, but for the most part a grand majority of the music on these sights can be listened to if you’re not a member. You even get paid when non-members listen to your music. Not as much as you would if a member listened to it, but still more than nothing.

How else are you going to get someone to listen to your music on one of the Streaming options if you don’t tell people it’s there. Joe General-Public is not going to randomly search words that combined happen to be your band’s name just to see if a band with that name exists on Spotify. Your friends and fans are more likely to assume you are not available on the streaming sites, rather than actually look you up. Most won’t likely think to look you up unless prompted by you to get them too.

What’s even more showing for me, the majority of artists who approach me about helping them with online distribution ask if I can help them get on Spotify, etc and then once I do they don’t promote that they’re music can be heard on those options. Why was it so important for you to get your music on to these sites if you’re not going to promote the fact that it’s available there.

Do not dilute yourself into thinking that maybe your music will come up as a suggestion when someone is listening to similar artists. I recently helped the band Shelbi get their music on Spotify and Rdio. Soon after their music was available, I started listening to them everyday on Spotify first thing every morning. I’ve been doing this for over 6 months now and I have yet to hear a similar artist come up next after their song. The main artists that tend to come up after Shelbi are Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, Rhianna and Bruno Mars.

Based on what Shelbi sounds like I assumed I’d get a Buckcherry, AC/DC or GN’R song next, not the current overplayed pop chart topper. At the same time, if I listen to any artist that you would assume is similar to Shelbi, do you think Shelbi has ever came up randomly after their tracks? And if you’re thinking well there’s still a chance my song will pop up randomly, similar to how I randomly bumped into an old college friend, that’s not a realistic option either. It was recently published that there are over 4 million tracks in Spotify’s that have never been played. That’s approximately one fifth or 20% of their library. Sadly I think it’s safe to assume a large portion of these unlistened to tracks are from independent artists.

Streaming sites like Spotify, Rdio, Deezer, etc actually pay artists when people listen to their music through their platform. Sure, it usually a fraction of a cent, but those do add up the more people listen to your music. Why wouldn’t you want to promote that you’re music can be heard online via streaming sites. Let people know your music is available for Streaming, encourage them to listen to your playlist that happens to include some of your own tracks in it or even encourage your friends and fans to create their own playlists and share the link to your track with their friends. 

No comments:

Post a Comment