How do you make $100k a week from Spotify? All you have to do is have the #1 hit single in the country for several weeks in a row. According to Music Business Worldwide’s math, Mark Ronson managed the feat with “Uptown Funk”, and the song has now earned an estimated $880,000 from streaming alone.
Of course, that money is spread out across all of the song’s rightsholders, with big chunks going to Ronson’s label, publisher and co-writer. Taking that into consideration, Ronson is likely walking home with something closer to four figures each week from Spotify.
With payouts like this, Spotify is proving that streaming can be profitable for musicians.
Of course, it’s highly unlikely an artist could reach #1 in the country while maintaining ownership of 100% of the rights to their music. Musicians must sell off pieces of their ownership to incentivize music businesses like labels and publishers to invest in their success and exploit those rights by aggressively trying to profit from them.
Musicians get caught in a Catch-22 when it comes to giving up the rights to their music. Often times, musicians can’t earn revenue from exploiting the rights to their music because they lack the proper business knowledge, connections and resources. They find they need to give up those rights to get enough exposure (with the help of labels and publishers) to make exploiting their rights profitable.
Compounding that difficult situation is the fact that labels and publishers will often “drop” an artist if their rights are not immediately profitable, while retaining the rights to the musician’s music that was handed over in their contract.
Today, it’s possible for musicians to circumvent this Catch-22, using the many tools available for independent musicians to distribute, market and fund their music without giving up any of the rights to their music. In theory, it is possible, in practice, it is still quite difficult.
Musicians and digital technology still have a long way to go before a musician can get their music the same kind of exposure a label or publisher can while retaining 100% of their rights… but digital technology is undoubtedly pushing us in that direction.