Singer T-Pain, love him or hate him, has been a transformational force in the music industry. He’s had a string of hits and is widely credited with popularizing the use of autotune in pop music as well.
T-Pain is also very interested in the business side of the music business. He recently shared a tweet that breaks down how many times an artist needs to stream a song to make a single dollar on various music streaming services.
For example, if a song plays 315 times on Spotify, an artist makes a dollar. YouTube Music has the highest play count needed, with 1,250 plays to reach the threshold. Surprisingly, Napster has the lowest number of necessary streams at 53, although the fact that Napster is still around is maybe more surprising.
The Jay-Z affiliated Tidal Music, marketed as a more artist-friendly platform, is also lower at 78 streams.
Take a look at the list below.
It’s important to point out that the list isn’t official, so the exact numbers may not be accurate, but things haven’t changed much regarding streaming royalties.
One eagle-eyed Twitter user pointed out that rapper Ice T made this distinction years ago.
Here’s a breakdown of the payout.
T-Pain’s post quickly went viral, with the requisite picking of sides and accompanying glibness.
“This model is only archaic for artists who suck at making music,” one person tweeted. “Not to mention all the money from endorsements, brand deals, the actual label deal/contract, etc. Artists are making tons of money as it is.”
T-Pain followed up with a message that the low streams affect newer artists more than anyone.
“Most artists don’t even get the whole $1. I’m just letting the up-and-coming know what the real is. I worked for mine and there are tons of ways around this if you move right,” he said.
Another user pointed out an even more troubling fact.
“The crazy thing about this chart is that the ARTIST doesn’t make that dollar. It still has to be split up with the label, distributor, etc.,” they said.
Obviously, this isn’t as much of an issue for artists like Drake, Taylor Swift, and Morgan Wallen, who are the top three streaming artists right now, with hundreds of billions of plays. Here’s a look at some of the most-streamed artists.
For the vast majority of musicians, the earnings are paltry. Damon Krukowski of the highly influential band Galaxie 500 writes about how musicians get paid if they’re not Drake. He recently shared the stats of how little Spotify compensated Galaxie 500 and his current band, Damon & Naomi.
Swift has previously spoken out about streaming and what it means for artists. She famously wrote an essay for The Wall Street Journal on the topic.
“Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is.”