Updated: Aug 3, 2019
The next time you are out to hear live music, consider this: Dropping five bucks into the band tip jar is equal to 118,000 digital spins/streams, according to my pal, Scott Ramminger, a jazz/blues musician based in Nashville, TN.
It's incredible how disgustingly low the payments are for most musicians, whose creativity and talent entertain us whether it's relaxing at home, exercising, riding in our cars, whatever -- especially when you consider the profits that record labels are reaping -- millions every day.
According to Digital Music News, record labels reported record-breaking revenue in 2017, with the three biggest producing an estimated $14.2 million a day from streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. Universal Music Group alone made $4.5 million every day that year.
Updated stats now show that Napster, which pays the best, pays $0.019 per stream, so to make minimum wage, an artist would need 77,474 total plays each month.
"I just got an $8.98 check from CD Baby, the outfit that consolidates the money I get from people listing to my music on Spotify, I-tunes, YouTube, etc.," Scott told me. "This is a couple of months worth of spins. They took a $2 administration fee, so I actually grossed $10.98 for streams of my music."
According to Ramminger, Apple Music pays .00735 cents per spin, Spotify, .00437, and YouTube only .00069.
Ramminger estimates that his music received about 200,491 spins, for which he received less than $9.
"Keep in mind that this is for five albums (one of them a double," he said. "According to this payout rate, by my calculations, it would take 945 million spins per year -- almost a billion -- to produce an income of $40,000 per year."
"It would be cool," he said, "if I and my fellow artists could get a little more of the bread from the use and enjoyment of our work. Just saying."
So next time you're out at a restaurant, bar or club where there is live music, hit that tip jar. Even though musicians there often are paid for their gigs, it's usually not that much. So if it's $200 for a night's work and there are three or four people in the band, figure it out.
So be cool. They could use the dough.
A sax player, and a singer who occasionally accompanies himself on guitar, Ramminger moved to Nashville in 2017, where he performs regularly as a sax player, plays occasional band gigs of his own, writes and records, and sometimes ventures out to perform his songs solo.
He returns regularly to his previous home of Washington DC to play band gigs, and performs throughout the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic with his own band and as a sideman.
The March 2019 release “Rise Up,” is Ramminger’s fifth record in eight years. The previous discs -- “Crawstickers" (2011), “I Really Love Your Smile,” (2013), “Do What Your Heart Says To” (Feb., 2017) and “Alive and Ornery" (Live Double Disc, Sept. 2017) have received critical praise, in publications including “Downbeat,” “Elmore,” “Blues Matters,” “No Depression,” and many others. Of the five records, only “Alive and Ornery” contains a few cover songs. The rest are Ramminger's originals.
Editor's Note: Ramminger is also an excellent writer and has been invited to join our NFN team of bloggers. Hopefully, once his latest musical project is completed, he will agree to share his comments and point-of-view with NFN readers. Trust me. He's an interesting guy.