Music Business

One Look At Ed Sheeran’s Spotify Earning Could Change Your Mind About Streaming

1Despite its dominance among consumers, there remains a commonly held belief among some in the music industry that streaming is evil since it earns artists such a small financial reward. But some recent numbers for Ed Sheeran tell a different story, with the superstar's hit single raking in significant cash.


Guest post by Bobby Owsinski of Music 3.0

There are still many artists and musicians that believe that streaming music is the devil, even worse than piracy. The idea is that since the payout for each stream is so small, an artist is just not capable of generating any serious income online. Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of You” might change your mind about that, as it’s generating some serious cash for the superstar.

“Shape Of You” is now the most streamed song ever on Spotify at 1.318 billion plays (as of last week). Considering that Spotify’s average payout per stream is now $0.005, the song has generated about $6.6 million. That’s not the big news though, it’s been estimated that his entire catalog has now generated over $50 million. Keep in mind that’s just from Spotify, and doesn’t include revenue from Apple Music, Amazon, Tidal, Deezer, or any of the other streaming networks.

MaxresdefaultOne thing about streaming is that the artist gets paid for every song streamed forever, unlike radio, where the artist NEVER gets paid (songwriters do though). It may not be much, but at least streaming pays something. And it can add up.

Like radio, where the more airplay you get the bigger the hit, the more streams you get the better. The only thing that’s changed is the scale, and that’s what many in the music business don’t understand. Where in the past, a million of anything was a lot, in our new digital world that number hardly creates a ripple. You get some industry interest at around 10 million views or streams, a minor hit at around 50 million, and a true hit at 100 million. Major hits are in the mid-100 millions, and of course, a big hit like Ed Sheeran’s “Shape Of Your” or The Chainsmoker’s “Closer” now can top 1 billion.

There’s some real money to be made from streaming, but it’s not coming at 10,000 or even 100,000 streams. You got to adjust the way you think about this by a factor of 100.

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  1. “One thing about streaming is that the artist gets paid for every song streamed forever, unlike radio, where the artist NEVER gets paid (songwriters do though).” and that is not true. European countries (those who accepted rome convention) has producers (labels) and recording artist collecting organizations.

  2. Comparing to US radio is not a good standard; worldwide artists do get paid on radio. Only the USA neglects to pay artists, which is a wrong in itself.
    The only way I will change my mind about what I perceive as the paltry pay-outs for streaming is if it can be shown to earn a similar income for an artist to that which the artist (or an artist of similar popularity) would have earned in the pre-streaming pre-piracy era.

  3. I have nothing against streaming although I do believe the revenue sharing for artists / creators should be higher. The counter argument I have about this article is that if you have to “sell” streaming to your readers by using the metrics of literally the most streamed song in the history of Spotify, then maybe you are making the opposite argument actually. Kinda like looking at all professional basketball around the world and arguing that it pays really well if you look at LeBron’s salary (not including his sponsorship deals).

  4. Ed is an artist songwriter. Meaning he is getting some of the larger river of monies paid to labels and artists ( though a fraction of what label makes)
    If you were to compare a song co written with Ed with another songwriter, the non artist songwriter would only earn 1000 th of what Ed Made.
    ONE THOUSANDTH!!!! Consistent pay outs to songwriters on hits with streaming numbers like this are in the $5-8,000 range.
    The value of copyrights in an ever more streaming world is abysmal. If this were one of the many things that our technological advances were phasing out because it no longer had value in this new world I would understand more.
    But obviously there is demand and there is value. There are just very unfair practices being used to allocate the huge amounts of money made.

  5. This article only highlights the fact that just over a billion pounds could have been made instead of six million for whoever made the six million.

  6. Not really. A billion streams doesn’t equate to a billion users buying a download. but yes, he might have made more. Additionally, just because someone streams the song, doesn’t mean they did ALSO buy the album or single as well.

  7. This doesnt apply to the normal artist this Ed guy has all sorts of money behind him. Artist X will never generate that type of money on his own. This would matter to artist with major deals

  8. Is my spotify money going to Ed F**cking Sheeran? I’ve never streamed him – but I’ve got a horrible feeling he’s getting my money

  9. Lately I find myself listening only to the new almost unknown bands since they seam to still give a damn about what they do. They make cool stuff and since they can make a living out of it, i’m good. According to this:… , not everyone is happy, but hey, you can’t always what you want, right?

  10. whilst the u.s. continues to ignore the mechanicals of radio this argument about artists not receiving money will continue
    dear U.S.A. you are not the only country in the world and before artists (not songwriters) bleat about streaming income look in your own back yard with regards to radio income…

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