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Which online music store benefits artists the most?
March 23, 2012 8:15 AM   Subscribe

I'm going legit: Which online music store benefits artists the most?

I plan to start buying music online. I want it to be DRM-free, and for artists to benefit as much as possible from the purchase.

What I am looking for is an updated table that indicates what percentage of a song's price ends up in the artist's pocket.

This article from 2 years ago indicates that this is the order of preference: Direct from artist, CDBaby (if available), Amazon/iTunes/Google.

So my question is: How do I evaluate Amazon/iTunes/Google? Information on artist royalties from these 3 services is very difficult to find.
posted by verdeluz to Technology (14 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
 
There's also Beatport for EDM music, which I'm fairly sure pays more than itunes, plus a lot of those artists own their own labels.
posted by empath at 8:37 AM on March 23, 2012


I'm pretty sure the biggies (Amazon and iTunes) have very similar deals in place, so it probably doesn't matter. The artist is getting a very similar cut either way.
posted by COD at 9:04 AM on March 23, 2012


If you buy from a band's site on bandcamp, they get 85-90% of the total revenue.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:15 AM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


If your artist has a "Buy" link on their website, it mostly likely leads to the site that gives them the biggest cut.
posted by Runes at 9:22 AM on March 23, 2012


In the event the artist you're interested in is on Vibedeck, that would seem to be the most lucrative for them.
posted by troywestfield at 9:43 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are a lot of legitimate online music stores, which have a wide range of prices. Electronic Dance Music (EDM) is often more expensive, as it is a replacement (to a degree) for vinyl single purchases, so you could pay a few bucks for a track, compared to less than a (US) dollar through iTunes or Amazon.

One thing about Bandcamp - if you search for a band and don't add "bandcamp" to your search, you might not find a band's Bandcamp page. At least for me, Google searches for music don't list Bandcamp high on the search results.

Another alternative: shop through the label's page, if it's an option.

If you're really interested in supporting an artist or band, you could also ask them. Contact the band, send them a message on Facebook or Twitter, and you should probably get some pointers.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:45 AM on March 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


As an independent artist, I use CDBaby, which in turn puts me on Amazon, iTunes, etc. None of this will apply to a major label artist, but here's what it looks like for an indy musician.

I get paid equally for US iTunes and Amazon sales at about $0.64 per song. I receive more for international sales on iTunes (about $0.05 - 0.25 more), while Amazon remains the same. One downside from my perspective is that I'm unable to set my own price with these services.

With CDBaby downloads, I can set the price and they keep a straight 9%. Even with a lower price, I make more per download at CDBaby, but obviously you aren't going to find a lot of major label artists there. I'm not entirely sure about Google Music, but they seem to be on the same tier as CDBaby, Bandcamp, and other artist-controlled services.

As far as streaming services go, I get paid a much higher royalty from Napster (about $0.01/play) than from nearly anyone else. For instance, Spotify and Last.fm each pay about $0.0005 per listen, and Pandora won't even provide me with play stats or any sort of accounting at all.
posted by malocchio at 9:48 AM on March 23, 2012 [8 favorites]


Can anyone else substantiate malocchio's statement that Google Music is on the same tier as BDBaby and Bandcamp? This sounds promising but I haven't heard this anywhere else.
posted by verdeluz at 11:50 AM on March 23, 2012


Here's a post from an artist about how much they earn on Spotify. Seems to be more than some other figures I've seen.

If I can ask a related question: do artists make any money from the very cheap CDs sold (new) on Amazon? There are a lot of good albums being sold for a few dollars: has the distributor just taken a loss on those, or is the artist basically getting nothing?
posted by Infinite Jest at 12:52 PM on March 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Infinite Jest: If I can ask a related question: do artists make any money from the very cheap CDs sold (new) on Amazon? There are a lot of good albums being sold for a few dollars: has the distributor just taken a loss on those, or is the artist basically getting nothing?
What usually happens is that a retail store will X amount of copies, but what happens when they don’t sell? They get returned. And who ends up paying for this? Yup, you guessed it, the artist.
From a long blog post titled Record sales: Where does the money go? (June 09, 2006)

But labels and distributors wouldn't discard unsold merchandise as trash. They mark them as "remainders" (3rd bullet down) and re-sell the marked CDs in bulk to various re-sellers. Marks range from cut spines, holes drilled through the case and album art, or some mark or hole through the barcode. Some sellers might be shady and are downplaying these marks, as the CD can be brand new, still in shrink-wrap, yet have a remainder mark indicating that they were surplus stock sold at a low cost. The CDs themselves are unmarred and unplayed, but the case and/or the album art is visibly modified.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:19 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


And if you wait long enough, you'll find people selling brand new albums that are completely unmarred for really low prices. I don't know if this is from old surplus from distributors and labels, or if people actually buy CDs and forget to open them, or if they're good quality bootlegs that can pass as originals. Any way it goes, the artists don't make anything from this 2nd hand market.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:22 AM on March 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Many thanks filthy light thief, I think I'm going to have to change how I buy music.
posted by Infinite Jest at 8:32 AM on March 27, 2012


There's a whole spectrum of options when you're moving from buying music to supporting artists and labels. Do you pick up a $5 used CD of a dead artist, or pay $25 for a deluxe edition from a label who is doing good work keeping that sort of music alive?
posted by filthy light thief at 11:15 AM on March 27, 2012


(I wish more artists, bands, and labels had "donate now" buttons, with some clarification of where the money went)
posted by filthy light thief at 11:15 AM on March 27, 2012


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