Independent artists need to generate 5 million streams annually to make US minimum wage, new report finds

Spotify, Apple, YouTube, and Amazon generate 96 percent of income for independent artists.

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A new report has found that independent musicians need to generate five million streams annually to make the US federal minimum wage.

The data has been uncovered in the annual 2023 Music Economics Report for Independent Artists from music financing platform, Duetti. The report focuses on streaming income as a primary revenue source, providing key insights and perspectives for artists and their teams.

Elsewhere in its annual study, Duetti found that earnings per stream are down by two percent in 2023, despite price increases by the streaming platforms. Independent artists are said to make $2.95 per 1,000 streams.

The decline is driven by Spotify, due to expansion in lower-cost markets, reliance on discounted plans (Family or Duo plans), and proliferation of Discovery Mode, according to Duetti. Spotify’s payout rate decline outweighs the contribution of subscription price increases in 2022 and 2023, which lead to increased payout rates by Apple, YouTube and Amazon.

These top four platforms generate 96 percent of income for independent artists but, interestingly, income varies greatly by genre. Spotify’s genre-based wallet share varies from as low as 38 percent for country artists to as high as 66 percent for rock. Meanwhile, Apple over-indexes in jazz, country, R&B, hip-hop, and Christian, while YouTube over-indexes in Latin, hip-hop and R&B.

One particular tool for sharing music which has boomed in recent years is TikTok. A number of both new and established artists have found their stream numbers rocketing by having a song go viral on the app. With that said, 1,000 TikTok video creations generate just 50 cents for independent artists, almost 13 times less than 1,000 streams on Apple Music.

Overall, YouTube and Apple Music have grown their wallet share for independent artists, but Spotify remains the most important platform in terms of wallet share (by far) with 55 percent.

Earlier this month it was revealed that Spotify’s CFO, Paul Vogel, cashed out shares worth $9.377 million, just 24 hours after the company announced that 17 percent of its workforce were to be laid off in a “hard but crucial step.” Vogel is due to leave the company in on 31 March 2024 as part of a “new phase” for the streaming giant.

Find out more about Duetti, or read the full report.

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