Audio Download Income: Releases vs Songs vs Streams

There’s been a lot of talk about how streams can affect an artist’s income for audio downloads. When an artist puts music up on the internet for paid downloads they usually release a full CD (the “Release”) which customers can download either in full or the individual songs (the “Songs”) at a lower rate.

On my own releases I also have several CD’s which are a single track. Some outlets sell this as a single song which is an incredible value to download customers since they are paying roughly one tenth of the album value. And then other outlets are smart enough to realize “Oh, this track is one hour long, it must be a full album” and charge accordingly.

For me personally, I sell more single songs that I do complete albums. I would image this is true for most or all audio artists. But even though I sell less complete albums than songs, the total income from each is almost identical. For example, let’s say you sell 10 complete albums and make $7 off each album for a total of $70; versus selling 100 individual song downloads and making seventy cents off of each one, which also totals $70. I’m kind of surprised in my case how Releases and Songs end up each totaling almost exactly the same in sales. Must be some sort of mathematical curve at work there.

Then enters Streams. I can understand now why there is so much talk about it. Let’s say someone is on a website that streams one of your songs but they don’t pay to download it. They just listen to it. That stream is paid a miniscule amount of money. Fractions of a penny. I don’t know exactly where the income comes form. It could be that listeners pay a small monthly fee for listening to streaming radio of artist songs – or it could be subsidized by advertisers on the website.

In my particular case I have a lot of monthly streams of my music. And the income realized on that is less than one percent of download income. For example, if I make $100 in downloads, my income on streams is about sixty five cents. Pretty dismal.

Am I going to pull my music libraries off of streaming? I need more information and a longer view. But in the short term, I’m actually quite happy people are listening to my music. I didn’t get into music to get rich, I got into music so people could enjoy what I create.

I’d be interested in knowing other artists view on streaming income and whether they are allowing streams of their music or not.

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