If you’re looking for more openness in the digital-payouts-to-artists debate, then spare a cheer for Zoe Keating, who has published a Google Doc of her earnings in recent quarters, splitting out Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Bandcamp, SoundExchange and ASCAP payments.

Across Q4 2011 and Q1 2012, Keating made 56% of her money from iTunes, 30% from Bandcamp, 10% from physical sales on Amazon, and 3% from MP3 sales on Amazon – this is from analysis by The Atlantic.

Expect discussion of her paltry Spotify payouts – $150 in Q4 2011 and $132 in Q1 2012. Yet also look at Keating’s own notes appended to the Google Doc. “I think Spotify is awesome as a listening platform. In my opinion artists should view it as a discovery service rather than a source of income,” she writes.

“The income of a non-mainstream artist like me is a patchwork quilt and streaming is currently one tiny square in that quilt. Streaming is not yet a replacement for digital sales, and to conflate the two is a mistake. I do not see streaming as a threat to my income, just like I’ve never regarded file-sharing as a threat but as a convenient way to hear music.”

However, Keating does offer some constructive criticisms for Spotify: “Making the playing field level for all recording artists: signed or unsigned. Let it be a meritocracy. Also, I wish Spotify would do more to facilitate the connection between listeners and artists – i.e. show that the artist is playing nearby, or add links to buy music.”

We’d advise reading the doc yourself though for her full notes, and particularly her comments on why more artists being this open would be beneficial to what’s often a polarised debate.

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  1. Great post,.
    As I’ve been saying for years, the 3 future models of the music industry will be:
    1. Free to consumer
    2. Subscription
    3. Direct to fan

    The only people who will make money from 1 & 2 are large distributors because the economics only work in large volumes. Artists, however, must be on these services because they will be how the majority of people will access and discover music.

    Artists will make money from direct to fan. Zoe uploads direct to iTunes, so in her case iTunes counts as D2C (although she won’t get fan data). She made $83k in 6 months, which hopefully paid for the recording costs and returned a profit. The digital future will help far more ‘mid-level’ artists such as Zoe than major acts.


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