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THE “COST OF LIVING” ON SPOTIFY STREAMS

The other day I was considering the purchase of a double LP when a thought crossed my mind – how many times would I need people to stream my music on Spotify to pay for this double LP?

The estimated answer turned out to be 8,459.

Let’s type that out in words: eight thousand four hundred and fifty nine.

Needless to say that put a momentary dampener on my desire to buy the double LP in question.


TRYING TO MAKE IT AS A FULL-TIME MUSICIAN

I’m currently taking an extended break from web development work to focus on music, and whilst I’m enjoying it immensely, there’s a good chance it won’t be sustainable. But I have some savings set aside for this purpose and can return to regular work next year. However there is always the question of whether I could ever follow my passion and be a full-time musician with some support from streaming revenues.

So I wondered, what it would be like to view the costs of living in terms of how many streams I need to cover the costs. Walking into a shop, picking up a litre of milk, and the attendant saying “That’ll be 311 streams please”. Stopping into a cafe for a coffee, “Here’s 1,015 streams thanks”

I decided to do up a table of some day-to-day living expenses. I figure it might help to put things into context a bit more, because when you hear that each stream is worth X fractions of a cent, it doesn’t really help visualise what that really means.


SOME PROVISOS ON THE FIGURES

Naturally the below figures are to be considered estimates. Don’t go into a shop with your Spotify Artists statistics open suggesting that the 2000 streams you got this month entitles you to a bottle of wine. The prices for each item are very rough estimates just to give a sense of things and are mostly taken from a set of sample prices for the cost of living in Berlin, Germany. I’ve taken the monthly German minimum wage figure from here – the hourly rate being €9.19 and for someone working 40 hours a week. For interest’s sake I included a few technical tools for musicians, the prices of which come from a price comparison engine or Thomann.

Additionally, the actual amount earned per stream varies hugely, even on a single service. For these calculations I’ve used figures from 2018 from a mid-sized indie label which generates almost 1 billion streams annually – enough of a data set to be considered fairly accurate. The original source article is over on The Trichordist. So for the data below we’re using $0.00331 as the per stream earning, and that’s converted to Euro at today’s exchange rate of 1 Euro = $1.12. So each stream is worth €0.00296.

Finally, if you self-release you naturally get all the earnings (unless your digital distributor is taking a percentage), but if you’re on a label then you’re likely to have a split of earnings. Again this could vary hugely but for argument’s sake we’ll consider it a 50/50 split – and we’ll assume the digital distributor isn’t taking a percentage before that split…!


THAT’LL BE HOW MANY STREAMS?!

Still here? Good! Check out the figures below!



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