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How to Increase Your Earnings on Digital Music Streaming Platforms

Streaming music. You can’t live with it, you can’t live without it.

people listening to streaming music

Many artists are frustrated by how little most streaming platforms pay. But if they ban the platforms, they may just be cutting off their nose to spite their face.

With digital platforms being the most popular way for fans to access music, musicians need them for publicity purposes. Refusing to release their music digitally can do more harm than good.

Fortunately, there are steps you can take to bring in more money through digital streaming. It won’t be much, but it will bring in listeners while earning you income. Here are some tips to consider.

Promote That Your Music is Streaming

People certainly aren’t going to listen to your music unless they know it’s out there. You can build excitement around your music by letting people know about the release a few weeks out. Then they will be looking forward to hearing it. Create fliers with the album artwork and post them on social media to boost interest.

You can also have release parties. These can take the form of live shows, intimate gatherings, and livestreams.

Once the music is out, continue reminding people that they can tune in digitally by posting CTAs with the marketing materials you release. Include links to your music in emails, blog articles and YouTube videos. You can also advertise on social media and Spotify through posts and paid ads.

Release More Music

The more music that you put on streaming platforms, the more likely you are to get listeners.

Many musicians hold back on releasing their music because they don’t think it’s good enough, well recorded enough, new enough, etc. However, artists that have released tracks that they didn’t think were perfect found it to be beneficial in helping them generate a bit of cash and getting their name out there. And most of them haven’t experienced any backlash.

Sure, there may be some songs that are REALLY THAT BAD that you may want to keep to yourself, but if you have any that are meh, you may consider releasing them to gain interest and generate some cash.

Get Your Music on Playlists

computer display of playlist

If you can get your music on a popular playlist, it will increase your listener base. The best and easiest way to do this is to submit them early on. You can do this through Spotify for Artists and digital distribution platforms like Tunecore. It’s basically as easy as ticking off a button on a form.

However, these playlists will only consider unreleased music so you will need to submit it to them at least 2 weeks before the music goes live.

If you miss your window, you will have to get a bit more creative in trying to get your music on playlists. One way is to search Facebook for playlists so you can contact moderators and submit it that way. Many of the moderators will want you to like the playlist and some even may ask you to stream it every day, but you can only do what’s doable.

You can also make your own playlists and include the music of artists in your social groups hoping they will add you to playlists they might have.

Another idea is to contact local retailers and businesses to find out if they have a playlist. If so, ask them if they will include your music. If they don’t, find out if you can generate a playlist for them and ask to be added.

Take Advantage of Pandora AMP

The streaming service Pandora has recently added a new feature known as AMP that provides additional ways for you to connect with fans.

The first thing you will have to do is get your music accepted on Pandora, and they’re pretty picky. If you don’t get accepted, you’re basically out of luck.

But if you do get accepted, you can set up your profile and start reaching out to fans. You can promote just about anything including shows, merch, music, etc. The platform will also provide insights on who’s listening to your music which will help you create more targeted ads.

Do Sound at Local Events

If you know how to do sound, you can tap into a great way to get your music out there.

Usually, fans at a venue will want to hear music between band performances. You can use this opportunity to play your music over the PA.

If people hear your music and like it, they may ask you what they are listening to. This gives you an opportunity to let them know where they can find your music. If you have business cards printed with your digital streaming link on them, give them out.

And while playing your music at events you’re doing sound at can get more people listening to music, you don’t want to be too opportunistic. You should only play your music at events that are suited to your genre.

Create Your Own App

app being selected on cellphone

If you are tech savvy, you may consider creating your own app. People can use it to stream your music, find out about your shows and join your email list. It will also boost your credibility.

There are various tools that will assist you in making your own app. Free DIY App Maker is not the best one out there, but as the name suggests, it’s free.

If you are okay with investing a little money for better quality, EVO Band App is recommended. It’s more expensive than the free options, but it’s not as pricey as hiring your own developer.

Create a Release Strategy 

A release strategy will help make people excited about your music. Earlier we talked about flyering strategy that will boost interest, but this method involves the stages in which you put your music on public platforms.

Start by releasing a single on digital platforms. Wait a month or so and then release your full album on CD only. If fans liked the single, they will be forced to buy the full album on CD as it won’t be available on streaming platforms.

Then wait another six months and release the album streaming.

This strategy will help you collect money through physical sales before you resort to streaming which is lower paying. It also helps you build momentum, so you get more plays overall.

Guest Blogging

There are tons of online music magazines that are looking for writers. If your writing skills are up to snuff, you can offer to sign on with them as a volunteer writer in return for posting an article about your music with a streaming link included.

Going this route is time consuming, but once the link to your article is in search engines, it will stay there indefinitely continuing to attract people to your music.

Look Into Blockchain Powered Streaming Apps

graphic image of blockchain

When we hear the word blockchain, most of us think of cryptocurrency. But the blockchain can record any financial transaction and it can do so in real time. 

Experts are currently working on developing blockchain powered streaming apps. These will benefit the music industry by providing automatic payments that do not take a percentage out as a record label or streaming service would. It will also provide more transparency when it comes to artists knowing where the money they are earning is coming from.

Many people feel blockchain powered streaming apps will fix a broken music industry. Whether that is the case remains to be seen. But artists are recommended to look out for these apps and to submit their music as soon as they’re available.

Record and Stream Music in Different Languages

Streaming platforms outside the U.S. tend to pay more per stream. So, if you release music in different languages, it may get played in higher paying regions 

Take Advantage of SEO

Spotify now offers artists a way to maximize SEO on the platform through Spotify for Artists. You can become more visible by using keywords that describe your music.

You can also use the names of popular artists in your genre as keywords. That way, your band or artist name will pop up when people search for your genre and similar sounding musicians.

What are the Best Platforms to Stream On?

Artists can make more money by streaming on higher paying platforms. But which platforms are best? In this section, we will review what’s out there.

Deezer: Deezer may not be the most popular music platform, but it has over 14 million user’s, half of whom are paid subscribers.

The platform has a unique service called, “Pay what you play” so if a subscriber listens to just one artist on the platform, their entire subscription will go to that artist.

The payout from Deezer can vary depending on your location, the type of subscription and who you ask. However, most say you are looking at rates between $0.0064 and $0.0011 per stream.

Amazon: Amazon is one of the most popular music streaming platforms with over 5 million users. They pay artists about $0.004 a stream which is about average. However, Amazon Music Prime offers users lower subscription rates so artists could be making as little as $0.00139.

While Amazon doesn’t offer anything special in terms of their payouts, they do have an Amazon Digital Music Store where artists can sell their releases. Amazon takes 30% of each sale.

Spotify: Spotify has taken a lot of heat for its low payouts. The platform, which has over 200 million active users, pays artists as little as $0.0033 per stream.

This is further diminished as the revenue doesn’t go completely to the artist. The platform takes 30% of the income leaving the artist with a mere 70%.

Things have gotten so bad that advocates for musicians’ rights have launched a Justice at Spotify movement. They are demanding that the platform pay musicians one cent per stream, adopt a user centric payment (similar to the one Deezer uses), be more transparent with revenue streams and end legal battles intending to impoverish artists.

spotify logo

Pandora: Pandora started out as an internet radio station but has since transformed into a digital streaming platform. They pay as little as $0.0013 per play.

This is likely due to their dwindling listener base. The platform has around 55.1 million users down from the 81.5 million users they had in 2016. Their limited listeners may be partially because they only stream in the United States.

Pandora offers paid and unpaid services to subscribers. Those with an unpaid subscription must listen to an ad before every play. Artists are paid with a fixed rate of 45% that comes through performance royalties via Sound Exchange.

Subscribers that pay for the service can listen ad-free, and artists are paid through the subscription money. However, the royalties go to the label and distributor often leaving the artist with less than half of the income. This will vary depending on the type of subscription.

YouTube Music: With YouTube’s popularity, you would expect that the platform would pay artists generously. But when it comes to streaming music, they pay a disappointing $0.008 per stream.

However, they somewhat make up for this by giving artists the opportunity to make money off posting music videos.

Tidal: Tidal is not the most popular music streaming platform, but it offers one of the highest streaming payouts coming in at a whopping $0.013 a stream. It also aims to be more artist friendly by offering a Direct Artist Payout Program and a Fan-Centered Royalties program.

These programs give artists royalties based on their HiFi Plus Tier subscribers. However, there is no exact number to determine how much they will make. It depends on their HiFi Plus Tier subscription revenues.

What Factors Effect Streaming Payouts?

money

Streaming payouts should be pretty straightforward. A certain amount is offered per stream. So, if you are getting one cent per stream, you will get ten cents per ten streams, a dollar per a hundred streams and so on.

But as you can see by the rates above, things aren’t always so simple. So, what are the factors that are affecting how much you’re getting paid? Here are a few that come into play.

Free vs. Premium Streams: The type of subscription the user has will affect what you are making. If the user pays for the service, you will be making more money than you would if the user does not pay for the service. The ad revenue will ensure the artist gets paid, but it won’t come anywhere near what they would make if their music were being streamed by a paying customer.

Local Markets: You will also get paid differently depending on where your money is streaming. For example, one month of Spotify is $9.99 in the United States but it’s only $3.99 in a smaller market like Indonesia. The more the customer pays, the more the artist will get paid.

Pay for Play Features: You may also pay more if you sign up for Pay for Play features. For example, Spotify now offers Discovery Mode which puts artists on the top of searches, so they are likely to get more streams. However, the service will only work for you if users like your music. Even if your song comes up on the top of search engines, it can still get ignored.

There is no cost for the Discovery Mode, but Spotify will take a bigger percentage off the money you make, another downside of the service.

The fact that there are so many factors involved in how much you get paid per stream means that many artists are confused when it comes to determining how much they should be making. That’s why so many of them complain about a lack of transparency.

Can Artists Make a Living Off Streaming Services?

The answer to this question is yes. However, you will have to get a good number of listens to make anything close to a minimum wage salary.

Minimum wage in many parts of the world is $15 per hour making for a yearly income of $31,200. If an artist is earning a $0.003 rate on Spotify, they would need to generate 10,400 streams a year, or 865,000 streams a month to equal that income. And this doesn’t account for any out-of-pocket expenses the artist may incur in terms of marketing.

The streaming economy is so pathetic, it has even gotten backlash from Paul McCartney, one of the richest musicians in the world. With so little coming in from each stream, and with record companies taking the lion’s share, a very small amount ends up trickling into artist’s pockets.

The music streaming industry is not looking great, but hopefully these tips will help you generate the highest income possible. The right type of promotion and listing on specific platforms will allow you to bring in more money. What do you do to boost digital streaming sales?

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