I talk with other musicians and this day and age is an odd time for us. Some of us, like myself, have fanbases that are ever increasing. Good numbers. You look at the Bandcamp listens, the YouTube listens, the streaming services, there are some really solid numbers. But albums sales don’t increase. They decrease. This is not just me, my other peers report the same thing happening across the board.
There is no great mystery as to why this is. It’s very, very simple. Most people don’t buy music, they stream it. Spotify, YouTube, Pandora, Google Play (i myself have a Google Play account and love it. I consume enormous amounts of music and that Google Play account is a beautiful thing). The issue with streaming though, is that the pay is terrible.
So, how many plays does it take to make minimum wage?
Apple Music / 230,000 plays
Google Play Music / 250,000 plays
Deezer / 260,000 plays
Spotify / 380,000 plays
Pandora / 1.2 million plays
YouTube / 2.4 million plays
In the old days these numbers would net you some serious bank. Now, a play doesn’t equal a single sale, many people play multiple times, but even so… Keep in mind also, that these are the numbers needed to earn minimum wage. That’s 7.25 US dollars an hour. If i worked 40 hours a week at McDonalds, this is what i’d make. And we all know minimum wage is barely even enough to live and in most cities you simply can’t. To earn 15 dollars an hour, double these numbers.
I don’t say this to complain. I will never stop doing what i do. I will die a wretched wreck like Van Gogh and Mozart rather than stop. (Not that i’m in any way a Van Gogh or Mozart.) But problems require solutions and the point of this post is solutions.
So i ask other artist, how tf do you live? My solution has been to live in Serbia, where i could keep a family of 4 afloat. At this point i could survive in a small American town, except my family loves it here, so i can’t take them away. But still… i have an album coming up, the Biopunk Fairytale. It’s… it’s excellent. I know, i shouldn’t say that, but it’s going great. The second album in my trilogies tend to be particularly on point and this is no exception. And like the other 2nd albums, it was hell getting started.
I need to pay Liel for her songs, i need Lauren to sing a song, I need Psyche to narrate the thing, i need a flutist to do a solo, i need… i think a saxophonist for a solo, but i haven’t firmly decided whether saxophone or another instrument. I’m throwing a buddy of mine a small bit to sing a few verses of one of the tracks and i need to hire a female to sing the part of the Mayor for a song. All that costs cash. And the truth is, the album would be better if i didn’t sing the part of Xander. It would really work better if i hired a male to sing all those songs. But it’s a bunch of songs and that’s a bunch of money, money that goes beyond what i can afford.
I don’t want to GoFundMe every time. We’ve got a GoFundMe coming for the live show in October, and one’s enough. So, what the other artists have all told me: “Paul, my dude, you gotta get a Patreon going. How do you not have one already? That’s how you make up the difference.” The people suggesting this are names you might recognize, so after tossing it around for awhile i’m thinking of stepping up and starting one.
So my questions:
I assume there are different tiers? What kind of perks do i offer? What kind of perks do you know other musicians offer? Anyone who either has a Patreon account or donates to one, i’d be very interested in hearing what you think.