If you want to promote your music and your voice in today's marketplace, you really need to understand streaming. This guest post, written by Carlos Silva, is a revealing look at music streaming services. The links he includes give a deep dive into in-depth reviews and infographics you can check out if you're serious about getting your music found. -JudyIn an era where everything we do can be broadcasted for the whole world to see or hear, it’s obvious that musicians want to capitalize. We no longer need to make cassettes or burn CDs in our garages and hustle to give them away strategically or attempt to sell them at the clubs. Now, we just need to share a link or, hell, even yell our band name from a rooftop so everybody can search us on their phones. Putting our music up on platforms like SoundCloud, Spotify or Apple Music has made the path to fame far more accessible. The catch, though, is that streams don’t always amount to riches.
What you want the most is to be heard, but you need to eat too. This is why you have to understand how these platforms work. While selling 100 CDs at $10 a piece would get you $1,000 of gross income, and then playing at your local venue could get you a couple of hundred more, it’s not that easy with streaming services. Even when each person that would “buy” your CD listens to the whole thing three times, those 300 streams will not earn $1,000. Not even close. These platforms work on royalties, so each stream is worth, on average, a certain amount. You need to be aware of that number when you put your music up. Spotify, for example, averages $0.0044 per play. YouTube, on the other hand, averages $0.0007. Even then, it’s not that simple. Each company has a different way of dividing these royalties.
Now, other than payment, you need to take into account which platforms will actually deliver on getting your content out there. Using Spotify can be very beneficial because of its community-style approach. You can easily share what you’re listening to on social media, and when using a desktop, you can see what other people listen to. This makes Spotify a very fertile place for the up and coming. Also, almost everybody uses Spotify. If you choose Tidal—which pays a much higher $0.0125 per play, but has a much smaller customer base—you might encounter some obstacles when sharing your content.
Nevertheless, services like Tidal have upsides. Users that pay for a service like that have very specific tastes and tend to be more demanding when it comes to sound quality. That’s another factor you have to take into account when finding a home for your songs: the audience. Consider your music, who listens to it and who would like to listen to it. Is your music more for parties? Should it be of quick access? Do you prefer to build a solid fan base that will follow you and pay to see you live? All these things can affect where you make shop. SoundCloud, for example, has developed a particular reputation for being a testing ground for new talent, and people looking for independent music lurk its interface often. Would this benefit your particular style? The most important thing is to always ask yourself these questions.
As a musician, these streaming services look and sound amazing, and to a certain extent, they truly are. You don’t need a studio or a company to produce your work in order to get it out there next to the big names. You can do it yourself, design your own covers and everything. Then, share the heck out of it and if your music is good, it’ll catch. There has been nothing like it, but that’s precisely why you need to do your research and be aware of all the ups and downs that these represent for you as an artist.