With just over 70 million paying subscribers on Spotify alone, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t subscribe to a music streaming services. Apple Music, Tidal and Pandora are some of the many popular music streaming services that grants the public access to decades worth of musical content.
With the entirety of the worlds musical history available for the price of a hamburger, it’s been made easier for music fans to access their favorite artists entire discography at the tap of a screen, this however has created a generation of passive music fans.
The Verge published an article exposing the downright, criminal amount of money an artist makes per stream on Spotify. The article reported that the “average “per stream” payout to rights holders lands somewhere between $0.006 and $0.0084,” meaning that based on the higher end of Spotify’s payout, an artist would need their single song to be streamed roughly 120 times to profit a single dollar.
For artists such as The Weeknd, Taylor Swift, Drake and other massive musical icons who fill stadiums to the brim with screaming fans, the slim streaming pay out doesn’t phase them or their wallets. For up and coming artists, local artists and SoundCloud artists the dismal paycheck does nothing for their continued work within the music industry.
This leaves music fans in a tricky spot — how do we pay back our favorite artist for all their creativity and hard work? First, don’t be mad at streaming services. Although their payout is bleak, they have given people who may not have been able to access such a vast world of music the chance to participate in the ever-changing culture that modern day music is always going through.
First of all, there’s merchandise. With aid from Justin Bieber and Kanye West, tour and artist merch has become a form of high fashion. The internet even makes space for further merch sales. If you’re unable to attend a concert to buy your favorite artists clothing, it’s most likely available at the click of a mouse. By purchasing a bands t-shirt or other merch, a much larger percentage of your money goes back to the musician and clothing designer.
Purchasing physical copies of music also supports artists. Even though the drop of physical music sales has begun to level out after steep falls in previous years, it is still another method to support a musician. There are many more options available other than just CDs. The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) reported that in 2017 the vinyl market grew by 22.3 percent from previous years and contributed to 3.7 percent of physical music sales overall, and for good reason. Vinyl’s comeback has created a new market of exclusive releases leading to a new generation of young vinyl collectors. Recording artists such as Tyler, The Creator and Frank Ocean can have their special vinyl releases found online for sale for more than double their original tag prices, proving that the resurgence of this music form has yet to find its peak.
Another way to support an artist is to make an honest effort to see your favorite recording artist in concert. Concerts are the best way to access musicians and experience unforgettable moments. Unless you live in Alaska or Hawaii, then chances are that an artist you enjoy listening to is coming to a town or state near you. I live in Albuquerque, and I find myself frequently driving out to Phoenix or Denver to see some of my favorite artists who look over my town.
If you are low on money, and merch, shows and physical music is out of your budget then you can do the simplest form of support for musicians by sharing their music on social media. Trust me, your social media feed isn’t important enough to be tainted by sharing a few albums that you enjoy listening to. Screenshot what you’re listening to on Spotify and share it on your story. Share a new album with your friends and family, all of this sharing costs nothing and is a small gesture that can help increase artist awareness and possibly boost their streaming numbers.
My main point: stop being a passive music fan. This doesn’t mean ditching your preferred streaming service, but it does mean doing more than just listening to an artist and continue about your life. Give back by seeing musicians in concert, buy their t-shirts, start a vinyl collection and at the very least share their music with more people. In a world where musicians who are under the radar have it harder than ever, all it takes is a bit of consideration to continue a musician’s journey in the music industry.
Colton Newman is the photo editor for the Daily Lobo. He can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Coltonperson.