Give me the numbers: No more rich and famous?!

Let me take you back in the year 1999. When eight different musicians have reached for the stars and all they have got was an incredibly rare diamond record for selling more than 10 million CDs. Today we can only name Adele who has achieved this. One single Soul diva who has made it during the last 9 years!

 How important are CD sales for the economic existence of musicians today and how are they actually able to make money any other way? I will present you how digitalization actually effects a musician’s income and how it changes their possibilities for creative working.

Online Streaming gives artistic freedom back

The ones that might suffer the most under today’s tendency towards online music streaming are big music labels. But for the artists it means being free to be creative again. They get rid of the pressure to produce commercially accepted music to promote on the market. Artists came back to the possibility of releasing “Free Tracks” from time to time again. Then they can experiment way more and make the music they like, which need not to be sold to any audience. It is more about the music again rather than sales numbers. Another positive aspect contributing to experimental music is that it is free for musicians to use all kinds of samples for which they would have to pay for licenses if the tracks were about to be sold.

The big names of the business as well as the rookies benefit much from this new freedom. One might go back to his musical roots again the other one might use the internet as a platform to create a fanbase. In the end, musicians can become more independent frome their labels since social networking and blogging makes it easy to take care of marketing by themselves.

What does a musician earn?

Now that we know the positive philosophical and artistical effects, let’s get back to the hard facts, the numbers that decide whether musicians have a future or not.

German radio station puls made a portrait about the German band Bodi Bill where they took a closer look on what the band earns, especially from online streaming. 


Bodi Bill receives 0.13 cents for every streamed song by Spotify, Simfy pays even one cent less. Consequently, the band has earned 6,20 Euros from streaming at Simfy for the whole year 2011. One might argue that not many people actually know the band. They only got to sell 3700 CDs in that year. Nevertheless, the rates stay the same. No matter who is the producer of the song. Another example is the maybe even more unpopular band Breitenbach. Here is what they earned for selling their record :

per CD sold: 3.10 EUR

per Download on iTunes: 2.42 EUR

per Stream: 0.16 cents 


There is still a lot to do to earn money like in the 90’s

We can see how much there has to be done according to the digital development in the music business so that musicians can live from their music again as they once used to in the 90’s. The bigger names might not feel the effects immediately since fanbases are big and loyal. But smaller artists live at the minimun and cannot exist as full musicians, at least not when they mostly receive money from online streaming. The process of digitalization is not finished yet.



Here and here can you find where I got my information from.



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