Musicians Income with Streaming Services


A favorable question one might ask is: How much does a musician make with online streaming services, such as iTunes and Spotify? Zoe Keating, an indie cellist, has shared her 2013 online sales and streaming revenue from platforms such as these.

Because Zoe is not signed with a label, she has no issue sharing these payouts with the rest of the world. This brings up debate, and throws a lot of criticism her way, about this topic that is highly looked over due to the large amount of streaming services out there.

Keating uploaded her Internet Royalties on a Google drive document open to the public.

She considers herself a moderately successful musician, certainly not making millions but has a favorable audience. Her concerts can range from ten people to a few hundred audience members.

In the past, physical albums were roughly the same price as today at $15, give or take a few dollars.

According to her online royalties, 92% of her income came from sales with a grand total of $75,341. Streaming services added another $6,380.

Her main source of income was from iTunes, with 32,170 singles and 3,862 albums sold; this generated $38,195. Additionally, Keating earned $25,575 with 185 tracks and 2,899 albums sold through her profile on direct-to-fan site, Bandcamp. A combination of physical and MP3 sales on Amazon earned her an additional $11,571.

There were 403,035 streams on Spotify, which produced $1,754. Surprisingly, more than 1.9 million views of video on YouTube only produced $1,248. Pandora earned her $3,258 of royalties.

Notching up 266,331 streams on SoundCloud and 222,226 streams on her Bandcamp site, she received no royalties.

I get a bad taste in my mouth when hearing this. Acquiring that high amount of streams, leaving this talented musician with nothing in her pocket. Luckily enough, Zoe Keating is the type of person you hope every musician strives to be. Kind-hearted, truthful and lives an extremely normal life with her husband and toddler.

Keating’s per-stream payout for Spotify was $0.0044 in 2013. However, YouTube’s payouts were $0.00064 per stream, making a single Spotify stream worth nearly seven YouTube streams in 2013. It would take 160 Spotify streams to generate the same income for her as a single-track sale on iTunes.

As I sit here typing this blog and listening to “Classical for Studying Radio” on Pandora, I can only feel my guilt deepen. This type of musician deserves more than what she is getting.

She has spoken publicly in the past about streaming services as a positive tool for her work. But, the companies running the services need to do a better job with helping artists sustain their careers.

“I don’t feel like streaming is the evil enemy. I think it’s a good positive thing to get music out there,” Keating said at a music industry debate in October 2013. “All I’m asking is make a deal with me let me choose my terms.” This goes for all independent musicians.

I couldn’t agree more. They are wonderful platforms that allows our generation to be exposed to new artists and tracks. The industry is always progressing.

Listen for yourself. Close your eyes and let the music take you away.

As a musician playing the violin myself, I have such appreciation for this type of indie-classical music. You can see the passion there; there is thought and precision in every movement she does or note that she hits.

There is nothing added. Talent is talent and she creates all the various harmonizing parts, creating a beautifully composed piece.

Here is an enlightening hour long video of Zoe Keating speaking of the bare truth of being an independent cellist. Many musicians would not feel comfortable doing this, which should give you the more reason to praise her work.

This gives me hope if I do ever decide to take my music to the next level. Her openness and advice that a person has direct control over how big or small someone would want their life or career to be is in the hands of the beholder.

Let’s consider those artists we have a deep connection with, and support them through purchasing their albums. They deserved to be recognized for their success and impact they have on people.


Musician Zoe Keating reveals iTunes, Spotify and YouTube payouts for 2013. (2014, February 24). Retrieved November 19, 2014, from

Streaming music payments: How much do artists really receive? (2013, August 19). Retrieved November 19, 2014, from

4 thoughts on “Musicians Income with Streaming Services

  1. I agree with Keating. I do not think that streaming in itself is the evil. I believe artists should be compensated fairly for their talent though! I think there is a happy medium artists must realize as the music industry changed and adapts to the consumer marketplace.


  2. It’s crazy to me that while independent artists that aren’t making crazy amounts of money are still on streaming platforms, there are other crazy successful musicians like Taylor Swift who won’t put their music on Spotify just so that they can make the most profit from sales. Not that I listen or particularly like Taylor Swift or mind that I can’t listen to her new album, it’s just like, clearly you don’t need the money so why are you being so elitist? It’s infuriating, especially becuase you know it works. I agree that streaming platforms are great for independent and up-and-coming artists to spread their work and also that they should be given better options because they actually deserve it.


  3. While I am not a Foo Fighter fan, I like what Dave Grohl said about streaming music. You want people to hear your music so they will invest in going to a show. They should absolutely be compensated for their work but streaming is nothing new! They should be prepared to expect income from other aspects of their craft.


  4. I listen to music through streaming a lot. That has lead me to invest in some albums from iTunes. Streaming can expose a lot of artists and give them recognition for their art; however, they should be compensated for their work. Taylor Swift making a stand not to put her music on there may help with the pay for streaming music. Her influence could help increase the pay for those artists. But either way they are using the tools necessary to get their names on people’s radar.


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