That was the question posed by David McCandless and his team at Information Is Beautiful back in 2010, when they shared a widely-shared infographic that roughly suggested how many streams and/or digital sales artists would have to achieve to earn the mininum wage in the US.
Now Information Is Beautiful is back with a new ‘remixed’ chart that has been updated with more recent information from existing digital sites, as well as the addition of players such as Tidal.
It’s worth remembering that these figures are always going to be debatable, especially when it comes to ‘blended’ royalty rates on the likes of Spotify – which mix revenues from paying subscribers and ad-supported/free users.
McCandless also differentiates between ‘signed’ and ‘unsigned’ artists. This essentially allows his team to suggest how much of an average digital service royalty payout they believe is being swallowed by labels.
For example, his figure of $0.007-per-stream from Spotify for unsigned artists matches the rough publicly-announced figures of the platform itself.
However, that figure drops to $0.0011 in Information Is Beautiful’s graphic when we’re talking about pay-through from labels to their artists, equating to an artist royalty rate of around 15.7%.
Naming sources including the BBC, Rolling Stone and CD Baby, Information Is Beautiful says that the figures are “industry average percentages”.
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