Stream pressure

Oliver Condy on why it may make sense for stubborn labels to join the streaming revolution


News that the classical singles chart will now be taking streaming into account is an interesting step forward for the industry. There’s no doubt that the likes of Spotify and Napster have courted controversy for the levels of payment they offer their clients. Hundreds of streams are routinely rewarded with pennies and many record labels and artists have understandably taken their music off these services for fear of cannibalizing sales of their physical products and digital downloads. You won’t, for example, find pop/rock artists Peter Gabriel and AC/DC on Spotify and, of course, The Beatles are renowned for staying clear of new(ish) platforms until what they deem as a decent return is guaranteed.

It’s understandable, of course, that the likes of classical music labels Hyperion and Chandos (both of whom have limited material on Spotify) might be a little sceptical of streaming services. After all, why would you upload your precious recordings to a company that pays such small beer in return? But think for a moment about your favourite CD. How many plays have you given it in its lifetime, and how many is it likely to get in the future, whether it’s owned by you or by someone else after your death. Hundreds? Thousands? And all for, say, £9.99.

Now let’s say that each stream on Spotify earns the label $0.007, which as far as I can tell seems to be the average payout. You’ll need 1,000 plays of that track to earn $7. And if the entire recording, made up of, say, eight tracks, gets 1,000 plays, then the amount earned rises to $56 or about £40. Far more than the £9.99 you paid for your CD in the first place. So, if like some of the larger classical independent labels, you have thousands of recordings in the vault, unplayed, unloved and taking up warehouse space, doesn’t it make sense to simply upload them to Spotify? After all, if I want to listen to a Beethoven Piano Concerto on a streaming site, I’m going to listen to one – and it might as well be yours…

So – with the increasing pressure from the Official Charts Company on labels to be a part of the streaming scene, it’ll be interesting to see how many of them react.

  • Article Type: | Blog |
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