What YouTube Really Pays… Makes Spotify Look Good! #sxsw

Is this the future of music? We continue to look at more artist revenue streams.

We’ve been waiting for someone to send us this kind of data. This info was provided anonymously by an indie label (we were provided screenshots but anonymized this info to a spreadsheet). Through the cooperative and collaborative efforts of artists such as Zoe Keating and The Cynical Musician we hope to build more data sets for musicians to compare real world numbers.

In our on going quest for openness and transparency on what artists are actually getting paid we’d love to hear from our readers if their numbers and experience are consistent with these numbers below. At the very least, these numbers should be the starting point of larger conversations for artists to share their information with each other.

Remember, no music = no business.

whatyoutubereallypaysFor whatever reason there appear to be a lot of unmonetized views in the aggregate. So let’s just focus on the plays earning 100% of the revenue pool in the blue set. These are videos where the uploader retains 100% of the rights in the video including the music, the publishing and the video content itself.

Plays  Earnings  Per Play
2,023,295 $3,611.84 $0.00179
1,140,384 $2,155.69 $0.00189
415,341 $624.54 $0.00150
240,499 $371.47 $0.00154
221,078 $313.47 $0.00142
4,040,597 $7,077.01 $0.00175

So it appears that YouTube is currently paying $1,750 per million plays gross.

We understand that people reading this may report other numbers, and that’s the point. There is no openness or transparency from either Spotify or YouTube on what type of revenue artists can expect to earn and under what specific conditions. So until these services provide openness and transparency to musicians and creators, “sharing” this type of data is going to be the best we’re going to be able to do as East Bay Ray comments in his interview with NPR.

As we’re now in a world where you need you need a million of anything to be meaningful here’s a benchmark of where YouTube ranks against Spotify.

Service  Plays  Per Play  Total  Notes 
Spotify To Performers/Master Rights 1,000,000 0.00521 $5,210.00 Gross Payable to Master Rights Holder Only
Spotify To Songwrtiers / Publishers This revenue is for the same 1m Plays Above 0.000521 $521.00 Gross Payable to Songwriter/s & Publisher/s (estimated)
YouTube Artist Channel 1,000,000 0.00175 $1,750.00 Gross Payable for All Rights Video, Master & Publishing
YouTube CMS (Adiam / AdRev) ** 1,000,000 0.00032 $321.00 Gross Payable to Master Rights Holder Only

The bottom line here is if we want to see what advertising supported free streaming looks like at scale it’s YouTube. And if these are the numbers artists can hope to earn with a baseline in the millions of plays it speaks volumes to the unsustainability of these models for individual creators and musicians.

Meet the New Boss: YouTube’s Monopoly on Video | MTP

It’s also important to remember that the pie only grows with increased revenue which can only come from advertising revenue (free tier) and subscription fees (paid tier). But once the revenue pool has been set, monthly, than all of the streams are divided by that revenue pool for that month – so the more streams there are, the less each stream is worth.

All adrev, streaming and subscription services work on the same basic models as YouTube (adrev) and Spotify (adrev & subs). If these services are growing plays but not revenue, each play is worth less because the services are paying out a fixed percentage of revenue every month divided by the number of total plays. Adding more subscribers, also adds more plays which means that there is less paid per play as the service scales in size.

This is why building to scale, on the backs of musicians who support these services, is a stab in the back to those very same artists. The service retains it’s margin, while the artists margin is reduced.

[** these numbers from a data set of revenue collected on over 8 million streams via CMS for an artist/master rights holder]


Streaming Price Index Updated 2014 : Per Stream Pay Rates

Music Streaming Math, Can It All Add Up?

YouTube Shares Ad Revenue With Musicians, But Does It Add Up? | NPR

7 thoughts on “What YouTube Really Pays… Makes Spotify Look Good! #sxsw

  1. As a songwriter and musician, I’m vitally involved with many of the issues discussed in this blog. And I like words like transparency and objectivity. Yet, so often when I find myself reading your articles, I feel like I’ve just got beat over the head with a lot of heavy-handed, foredrawn conclusions. And they are pretty much always the same.

    One hallmark of objective reporting is that facts are messy and objectively arrived at conclusions are seldom pat, absolutist, fully conclusive. By contrast, those are the hallmarks of heavy-handed persuasion of the type often served up by predetermined attitudes and conclusions.

    1. Yes KS2, many of these problemas are recacurring, thank god we don’t have more. I must admit I was slack jawed when I read Chris Castle’s article on the DMCA, a repost from 2006. Eight years later, we still have the same serious loopholes that so many pirate sites hide behind.

      In the case of this post, we have been dancing around the inconsistencies of YouTube, ever since they abandoned the 3 minute format. Now, we’re treated to album cover videos featuring entire recordings.

      The news here is that Trichordist finally got their hands on some actual data for the first time. Talk about flying under the radar, YouTube has been barrel rolling for a very long time under the powerful radar jamming of Google.

      I’m not familiar with the word “absolutist”. But I sense there is some finality to it.

  2. This is the same economics that has screwed the newspaper industry. There are so many pages were ads can be placed that each placement is just a fraction of a penny. You need to have millions of page hits or streams in order to gain any revenue. The owners of the site don’t care as they are getting the fractions from all pages/streams. In effect what has happened on the internet is the same thing that happened in the middle ages. The landowners (in the case of the internet, site owners), take the lions share of anything that is done on ‘their’ land. Under feudalism you worked for the local lord for 5 days a week and got to work on your own for one day. What people did then was run off and either find a better lord, or moved to a city where they were not feudal subjects.

    I’ve run off to the city and recently managed to get all my photographs off Google Images.

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