If Spotify is saving Swedish music sales, why aren’t indies celebrating?
Article original a The Guardian
It’s often hailed as a model for the future of digital music, but the reality is that many smaller labels can’t survive on streaming
David Elfström Lilja: the Swedish musician received £96 for more than 20,000 streams on Spotify
“Swedish music sales up again thanks to Spotify”, screamed last week’s headlines. Though CD sales in Sweden are down 30% and digital downloads are down 22.6% “this has been solidly offset by the rise in streaming” they continued. So how come we’re not hearing whoops of joy screamed from the rooftops from Sweden’s music creators – or its indie labels?
In the previous Plugged In we explained that many major-label artists are unhappy about streaming rates due to the way record deals are structured, but what about smaller labels?
When Swedish independent artist/producer/songwriter and label owner David Elfström Lilja checked his admin page on Phonofile, his distributor, the other day to find out how much he had made from his latest single Worlds Collide in its first few weeks of release, his heart sank. For 18,035 streams he had received 8.70 SEK (£0.80). Meanwhile it had soldtwo copies on iTunes, for which he received 36.37 SEK (£3).
“No one can say that streams don’t cannibalise sales, cause I can’t imagine those streams wouldn’t have generated at least a few sales [if people couldn’t stream it unlimited times],” he reflects.
After questioning the figures with Phonofile, it turned out that things weren’t quite as bad – the distributor admitted that the figure wasn’t correct, that they’d made a mistake of a couple of decimal points when calculating his royalties. Instead, it said, he was supposed to get £96 for 20,590 streams (a reminder for everyone to double check their statements).
But is this per-stream royalty reasonable? Spotify proponents point out that it may take a few years for a music fan to listen to a track enough for the revenue to equal a download – so, in other words, indies and artists need to be patient.