How Little Do Musicians Earn Online?


Well, this is depressing – especially for working musicians who think they can still make a living wage from selling those anachronistic items known as “albums,” or even “downloads.”

Responding to self-serving organizations that claim to protect musicians’ digital rights, David McCandless has come up with this nifty chart at his Information Is Beautiful blog to reckon how many albums and/or tracks a musician needs to sell in various media in order to earn America’s minimum wage.

So in order to earn a minimum wage of $1,160/month, a solo musician would have to sell:

– 143 self-pressed $9.99 CDs
– 1,161 retail album CDs (high-end royalty deal)
– 3,871 retail album CDs (low-end royalty deal)
– 12,339 Amazon track downloads @ $.99
– 849,817 streamed Rhapsody tracks
– 4,549,020 streamed Spotify tracks

McCandless also breaks down how much the artist makes in relation to his or her label in each of these media, and it isn’t very pretty. Basically, those protesting the loudest about the erosion of digital rights online are those who stand to make the most money from the music itself – and these people are usually not the same people who create the content they’re so seemingly interested in protecting.

Tell your friends!