Musicians are still getting screwed over by streaming services


Roughly how much (USD) Gary Numan made from one million plays on Spotify

NurPhoto/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Despite the rollout of multiple vaccines, we're still a long way off from returning to normal social activities like live concerts. As inconvenient as that is for fans, it pales in comparison to the frustrations of performing musicians, who often rely on shows as one of their chief sources of income. They certainly can't hope for much support from streaming services, according to a recent report from the UK-based, Sky News: in the case of artists like Gary Numan, they can expect roughly $50 USD per one million song plays.

NurPhoto/NurPhoto/Getty Images

'Barely worth the paper it was printed on' — The revenue (or lack thereof) from streaming services has long been a sore subject for anyone who isn't a record label or, y'know, the aforementioned streaming services. British singer-songwriter, Gary Numan, recently told Sky News that he "had a statement a while back and one of my songs had had over a million plays, million streams, and it was £37 (around $50). I got £37 from a million streams."

In another instance, Numan tried printing out his entire recent streaming statement, which although amounting to over 100 pages, netted the artist barely $150. "It was barely worth the [paper] it was printed on, and it took nearly half an hour to print," he said.

The powers-that-be hope for business-as-usual — Considering how streaming accounts for over half of all global music revenue, record labels and streaming companies like Spotify and Apple Music still don't see anything wrong with the current arrangements. "This is an evolving situation. It is being well-governed by a market that is efficient and nimble and it doesn't need any change," Tony Harlow, Warner Music UK chief executive, told Sky News... right, because the free market has never screwed over its workers.

Shortchanging artists isn't the only issue plaguing streaming services right now, either. Let's not forget that whole thing about getting caught hosting literal Nazis on their platforms or the strangely dystopian project Spotify is reportedly looking into that assigns users personality profiles. And the chance the company might just straight-up swap out some artists with AI-composed music. Oh, and stealing ideas from their own interns.

Bottom line: streaming companies definitely aren't going anywhere anytime soon, and because of that, it's hard to see how the playing field will level for artists in the near future.