I listen to music 24/7, while I’m programming, while I’m studying, while I’m gaming, while I’m driving, while I’m eating, while I’m sleeping, while I’m working, there’s never a point when I’m not listening to music, and I can’t imagine not listening to music when I’m doing most things because the silence of life is boring!

I wanted to track what I listened to for the purposes of defining the major genre’s of music I listen to and discover new music in those genre’s, so I tried to use last.fm with audacious and VLC, but it didn’t integrate into android music player ‘doubletwist’ or youtube so my listens were largely ignored.

Another issue was because I used to download the videos from youtube and play them in VLC all the time, last.fm wouldn’t recognise what was playing based on the funky file naming scheme youtube downloader used, so last.fm was effectively worthless at tracking what I like and what I listened to, but it did give a low quality insight into what was going on.

As of September 2009 I had listened to 5000 tracks and based on this you’d think I only listened to the New Wave of American Metal because that was what I was mainly playing in Audacious.

This all changed with Spotify which I discovered in June 2012, after coming out in Australia in May 2012. With its built in last.fm scrobbling my listens has shot through the roof, in one year I went from 5000 to 50,000 listens, an average of 4000+ listens per month!

Spotify listens Thanks to: http://playground.last.fm/demo/timeline

// Supporting the Artists

I’ve always been fully supportive of artists, making good music is hard, putting your music out there is hard, getting it in front of people even harder, making money from it is even more difficult, and unfortunately the big money is limited to artists who I feel don’t deserve it. Pop music I’m looking at you.

But it’s a tricky balance, I don’t have a lot of cash laying around either, music is not, and traditionally hasn’t been at the top of the list of things I have to spend money on (and this is a shame for me personally). I have around 15 CD’s I purchased between 2000 to 2010, and I have been to 2 concerts and 2 festivals, Korn/Fear Factory/Static-X (2004) Lamb of God/Devil Driver/Shadows Fall (2009), and SoundWave 2012/2013.

Ignoring festivals and concerts because I will continue to go to those, I averaged $30 a year spent on music (15 CD’s x $20 / 10 years).

I have purchased some smaller digital downloads, and used to listen on di.fm a lot, but I never got into itunes because it doesn’t run on Linux, and so it was easier and more effective to listen to the music on youtube, despite the horrific compression.

One of the things that attracted me to spotify was artists getting paid based on listen, this is great to me because while I do have a concentrated amount of listens to particular artists, I listen to a very wide range of music. My scrobbling has confirmed this with 50 - 100 or so artists which I listen to heavily, and a very long tail of artists who I’ve listened to via the Spotify Radio or Sounddrop radio.

// The maths of it all

A recent article in Pitchfork by Damon Krukowski claims that indie artists gets paid .005 cents per stream then goes on to show his math: $29.80 paid for 5,960 streams. That’s .005 DOLLARS, not .005 cents.


It has been noted that independent artists get the raw end of the deal, a big thanks to Zoe Keating for publishing what she gets, this has given a massive insight into what artists are getting paid.

Average price paid per stream after CDBaby’s 9% cut:

Spotify $0.003339


At 0.003 dollars per stream to make the same 70 cents she would have if I had purchased the song on itunes I would need to listen to a song by her 233 times

According to last.fm I’m currently at 731 listens, so I have effectively purchased 3 songs from her.

But I like her albums, both of them, of which there are 19 tracks.

To make the same itunes purchase money I’ll need to listen to her albums 4427 times.

// This is about to get huge.

4427 listens! According to a commentator on one of the above blogs:

so my itunes play count is not accurate, but even now, the top song has less than 20 plays, and I listen to music all day long while I work.

4427 is a lot of plays but this is not about an individual song, it’s the equivalent of listening to both albums 233 times, each album 116~ times.

This seems a lot but we have to look at my listening habits I mentioned earlier.

in one year I went from 5000 to 50,000 listens, an average of 4000+ listens per month!

4000 listens a month and of the top 50 artists I listen to I’m not done with 80-90% of them, I first heard Alien by Strapping Young Lad in 2006 and still listen to it today.

My top 15 overall:

Spotify listens Top 15 overall

And in the last 3 months:

Spotify listens Top 15 last 3 months

As you can see a lot of the artists that are in my top 15 overall are still in the last 3 months, and I’m 100% certain a large amount will still be there in a year, as the overall listens on a per artist basis continues to go up.

But at the end of the day it all comes down to this, at the average of 0.004 dollars a stream, last year I paid out $200 to artists.

This is $170 more per year than I previously did, to a wider range of artists than ever before.

And to top it all off the payout is based on spotify’s growth as well, the more people with a spotify subscription, the higher the payout, because the payout is a percentage of spotify’s total revenue:

Of the $10 that I spend monthly for Spotify, $6 goes to the owner of the recordings, $1 goes to the owner of the publishing copyright, and Spotify keeps $3.

More spotify users = more revenue = a higher payout rate because more money is available to go to artists.

// In conclusion

If you love music and listen to it all the time spotify is the be all and end all, you get to support all the artists you listen to, and the more you listen the more the artist gets paid, and in 10 years time as our listens per artist continue to rise up past 5000, maybe even 10,000+ listens per artist they’ll earn more than they ever would have from itunes or physical album sales.

A bigger impact is that they’ll earn a trillion more dollars than they would have made from pirates who downloaded the album for free and never followed through on buying the album.