Why I Don’t Think 1 Cent Per Stream on Spotify is Going to Save the Music Business

by | Aug 17, 2020 | Uncategorized

Before you hate on me, there’s one thing you should know – I signed the petition!

I’m 100% behind the principle of the cause. It would be great to see one cent per stream versus the non-quantifiable decimals they’ve been trying to pass off as compensation.

Sadly, I think the musician community’s focus has been misplaced. All I hear is Spotify this, Spotify that. Most of it is a delusion.

Yes, it’s important. But not that important.

Especially compared to some of the things I cover in this post.

Fight for Dollars, Not for Cents!

Many musicians say money isn’t important.

But if that’s true, why are we fighting over cents rather than dollars?

You do know that you can still make $5 to $20 selling your releases, don’t you?

And if you’re going to put the same amount of effort into promoting something anyway…

WHY promote your music on Spotify for mere cents? Especially when you could be making dollars?

Musicians need to wake up and realize ONE THING – that their fans aren’t them!

We’re talking about grade school kids that want to find their identity, feeling like they don’t fit in, combating anxiety and depression…

We’re talking about college kids that want to party and rock out because they aren’t ready to be adults just yet…

We’re talking about adults that sit at a desk job all day daydreaming they were somewhere else doing something else…

THOSE are the people your music is for. And, surprise, surprise, they might just have more discretionary income than you do.

Look – I know women aged 25 to 45 that don’t bat an eye dropping $100 per day on food and entertainment. Food for thought.

Now I GET that people don’t always buy what’s readily available for free. We do need to approach the sales process a little differently than we used to. But let me get to that.

So, What’s Your Solution?

If you’re a listener of my podcast, then my answer here is going to be “you’re joking, right?”

The New Music Industry Podcast has nearly 300 episodes as of this writing, and I’ve talked about dozens (if not hundreds) of alternative ways you can monetize your music. It’s kind of what I’m known for actually.

It’s funny how my peers are just now making a big stink about alternative monetization. I’ve been talking about this since 2009.

Here’s a small sample (and I do mean small sample) of opportunities just waiting to be tapped.

The first is bundling and packaging your music:

The second is setting up a membership site/fan club:

The third is making money from affiliate partnerships, a topic I’ve covered here on the blog in detail:

I shared FIVE ways you can make money as a blogging musician in this episode:

And the sales funnel approach – which has its pros and cons –  is quite popular among musicians as well. John Oszajca shared eloquently on this topic in episode 147 of the podcast:

Need I say more?

There are a TON of ways to make more money in music, and most of them represent a better opportunity than making a cent per stream.

Have Fun While it Lasts

Kanye may have been right. Maybe Bush doesn’t care about black people.

But it sure doesn’t seem like the government cares about artists, independent musicians, or small business owners like me, either.

What do I mean?

Have a read through the following. These are some of the REAL issues independent musicians and businesses are facing. This is what we’re really up against.

But be forewarned…

If you read what follows, you might not sleep tonight.

Remember – all this stuff IS coming, and you can read all about it if you go digging for it.

COPPA & Increased YouTube Related Restrictions

YouTubers are having a rough go of this whole COPPA thing, and some are caught in the middle of the mess, with their living on the line.

To be perfectly fair, this child protection act has been around for a long time, and for good reason. Children should not be able to access or view content that’s inappropriate to them.

What’s 100% hypocritical about this is that anyone with an unprotected internet connection can easily access pornography at the click of a mouse – child, adult, senior, or otherwise!

But before another YouTuber whines they’re going to lose their poo – because they draw adult-oriented cartoons, and that makes their content incredibly ambiguous – I agree. YouTube needs to sort some of this out before they start acting like the righteousness police.

COPPA isn’t unimportant. The way it’s been implemented, and what has resulted from it, especially on YouTube, seems draconian.


You can’t convince me popular social media platforms aren’t actively censoring people.

I’ve literally seen Facebook censor one of my friend’s posts!

I get it. Many of you are crying, “Awesome! We don’t want to hear from those crazy flat earthers anyway!”

No, censorship is quickly evolving beyond what some consider “fake news,” which has become impossible to quantify or verify, when you understand that every event that occurs is seen differently by every human being. And the way media makes money is by getting you to click on scandalous headlines.

It’s getting to the point where voicing an opinion that doesn’t conform to the majority is actively ridiculed, suffocated, and even shadow banned.

What’s wrong with opposing views? Hasn’t humanity thrived, especially intellectually, on inquiry, discussion and debate? Bill & Ted are more enlightened than the woke.

If it furthers humanity, then I’m all for people speaking up!

Want to keep building that fan base on Facebook or YouTube? Better not go against their agendas and stances on anything. Otherwise they will ruthlessly demonetize (love how demon is in the word) or delete as they see fit.

Net Neutrality & Localization

For all of those who thought they were being clever using virtual private networks (VPNs)…

Net neutrality has been a heated subject for many years.

Basically, it’s the idea that internet service providers (ISP) should treat all internet communications the same, without discrimination based on user.

What’s that I hear?

Personalization? Localization? Remarketing?

That’s right. Your ISP is already feeding your bias.

Imagine a future where the visibility of your music and website is even less than it is today…

Where it’s no longer just about cutting through the substantial noise created by your competition…

Where it’s no longer about clever marketing tactics…

But where it’s virtually impossible to get your music in front of certain users because there is no neutrality.

In Canada, they’re talking about policing what people say online. They want podcasters to register their shows. With the government. Unbelievable.

Fun future to look forward to, isn’t it ?

Internet = Facebook (or Google, or Amazon, or Apple…)

Another harrowing reality we might need to face is that in the future, the internet might be Facebook or Google or some other big company. As in the internet IS Google. There’s nowhere else to go.

They’re talking about this on a podcast I listen to – PNR With This Old Marketing – so you know it could happen.

I like the internet as it is. I like being able to set up websites. I like being able to promote my business to interested customers.

But no, at some point, things may no longer be as they are, because when you open a browser window in the future, there will be no URL bar, and every “page” we visit could be Amazon.

A place where I have no choice but to pay to play if I want to run any business. A place where I’ve got to obey by a stringent code of conduct or I am booted (also see above).

Same will go for all of us.


As usual, I’m probably going to come across as the contrarian or the jerk in this post, but this needs to be said. And if I’ve got to be the one to say it, so be it.

What we must recognize is that there are more critical battles to be fought.

Technologies, laws, regulations, and restrictions will be rolled out without our consent, in violation of our rights, and you can’t convince me that it’s somehow in our best interest.

When these things do happen, our very way of life will be challenged, never mind the way we monetize our art.

But for the time being, there are MANY ways to generate revenue that don’t revolve around making cents on Spotify.

Better have fun while it lasts…

The Music Entrepreneur Code paperback

The Music Entrepreneur Code is my latest best-selling book, and it’s available here as well as on Amazon.