In The Streaming Age Of Music, Songwriters Need Loyal Fans

I read an article in The New Yorker about streaming music and how it may be killing songwriters.

As a tune-maker myself, this caught my eye.


The conclusion the article drew about streaming music changing things for songwriters is that “songwriters will have only dear friends and gentle hearts to support them.”

Why? Because Spotify literally pays pennies to songwriters.

And it’s not just me who knows this. Michelle Lewis, singer-songwriter, had some different thoughts about the streaming service:

“I realized, ‘I have this hit. This is going to be good! ‘Nearly three million streams on Spotify!’ And then my check came, and it was for seventeen dollars and seventy-two cents. That’s when I was, like, ‘What the f***?’”

Why is it now — in the streaming age of music — so difficult to make money as a songwriter?

According to The New Yorker, the problem is the monopoly-grabbing record labels:

Having lost out, historically, on income derived from performance royalties and sound recording for terrestrial radio, [the record labels] were careful, in the digital era, to guarantee themselves income, and in some cases equity interest, from streaming.

On the other hand, Spotify is great if you already stream your music on sites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud because at least Spotify pays you something. But still, they pay fractions of pennies.

With all this in mind, the idea that songwriters need to rely on “dear friends and gentle hearts to support them” is very true.

The article makes it seem like that’s bad, but there are a lot of dear friends and gentle hearts out there. They are now the sustaining breath for songwriters.

So wherever you are out there, dear friends and gentle hearts, we songwriters will need you more and more in the coming age of music streaming.