Just 0.4 percent of artists in the UK make a living from streaming plays of their music, according to a new study.
The research — 'Music Creators' Earnings In The Digital Era' — was published by the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO), and was based on data collected between 2014 and 2020, alongside figures from hundreds of musicians and producers engaged in study groups.
Findings include the fact that only artists regularly garnering more than 1million streams per month can be considered to make a living exclusively from online music platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. This equates to just 1,723 individuals or acts, 0.4% of UK artists.
As RA notes, culture writer and author of online industry guide Water & Music, Cherie Hu, posted to Twitter that for those hitting the pre-requisite number of plays needed to "make a living" this works out at an income of between £2,200 and £3,700 per month.
not only do just 0.4% of artists on DSPs generate this number of streams, BUT also the vast majority of these streams are going to major-label releases— cheriehu.eth (@cheriehu42) September 28, 2021
so, the number of *independent/unsigned* artists who generate enough streams to sustain a living is much, much lower
She also notes that the "vast majority" of artists in the 0.4% are signed to major labels, meaning the percentage for independent acts will be far lower. Her estimates also suggest the number of individual names now sustaining themselves from streams is potentially five times what it was in 2014, but competition is much fiercer today, meaning the number of streams needed for that income is now significantly higher.
In July, the UK government Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) released its own report, The Economy of Streaming, using data going back to October 2020. It found the entire streaming model was in need of a "total reset", citing "pitiful returns" as a major concern. In 2019, DJ Mag published an in-depth feature on ways in which electronic producers can make money from digital music platforms.
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