How many lentils does one Spotify play buy you?

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How many lentils do you get per listener for a radio play?


IIRC, An artist with a good contract gets about $1 per CD sold. Assuming there are 10 songs on that CD, if you play that CD more than 20 times, they get even fewer lentils per song played than Spotify gives them.


Back in the post-Napster day (and by that I mean 2001), Apple iTunes had the best royalty rate for digital music downloads. It was a typical 40/60 split, though I can’t remember who got what. That was per-download, not streaming. I’m sure that is different these days.

Other streaming services that were coming up at that time were laughable - ranging from 100th of a cent to literally millionths of a cent. For indie musicians it wasn’t much at all and you really couldn’t compete with the higher profile artists for plays/monies. But you’re doing it for the music, right?

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You mean nobody does math like this anymore?

($0.005 / play) * (1 lb / $) * (453.592 g / lb) * ( lentil / 70m g) = 21.6 lentils / play


I think you should answer that…

I bet 150mil people listen to radio.
They listen for an average of xx number of minutes per day
XX number of songs are played in that time…
the typical play per song is $xx to the artist

= xx number of legumes

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Everyone likes to pick on Spotify. But really it’s the big record companies that made the deals to enrich their corporate selves at the expense of the artists they “represent”


It’s the main reason why lesser known artists don’t care much for album sales beyond exposure. The real money is in touring and selling swag directly to your fan base. Whenever i’ve seen musicians/bands play i’ve made it a point to buy a CD or shirt, the few bands i passed on was because they had ridiculously inflated prices for shirts (I believe a Korn shirt was 40 bucks or more, and seriously fuck that price)

On the flipside i follow Amanda (Fucking) Palmer and she’s been producing art and music entirely fueled by her Patreon page. Everything produced there is either cheap, free, or pay what you want. Her audience engagement is extremely high and i think her approach is genius. This may not be doable for most musicians but it does certainly light the way of what’s possible with some help from the internet.


Agreed I like to buy their CDs as well, but I have way too many tshirts.

The thing is though, that that’s still infinitely more than we get paid from radio play- Which is considered “promotional” and doesn’t pay at all!

That’s with a really good contract. A lot of artists get $0.15- $0.35 per CD sold. Some, if they have a bad contract, actually take a LOSS on each sale.

Bear in mind that that’s MAJOR LABEL artists. The local guy down at the pub like myself who’s selling his own disc gets more like $10.

And this is why the labels can’t die soon enough.

THIS. A million times, this. If you want to really support an artist, never buy a CD from a major retailer but ALWAYS buy one if it comes from the artist themselves. And buy swag. Whatever they got.

And once you’ve bought the albuml, listen to it on Spotify anyway- because even at a fraction of a cent, it’s more than they get from your own CD player.


Randal Munroe does.

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Some shit songs made a lot of money still…
Just my 2 cents (86.4 lentils)


So, I was on a tear last night and listened to all the Beatles albums (on Spotify) in a row.

So does that make soup for Paul and Ringo, or do they drizzle it over Michael Jackson’s grave?


I find myself buying most of my CDs through PledgeMusic and Kickstarter these days…or at shows. Or I did before the cub was born.

And I should add, outside of David Bowie and Leonard Cohen, pretty much everyone who’s made an album sale to me in the last 5-10 years has done so through Pandora, although I haven’t bought their albums by clicking the Pandora link, so alas I have no way of telling them that.


I’ve bought schwag from bands I don’t even like simply because I respect what they do. It’s not easy to be an unknown act touring across the country in a shitty van, playing shitty clubs for a couple dozen people who may as well hate you. Anyone who can do that deserves my five bucks for whatever they’re selling.


Think of the poor software engineers whose code is being used in Spotify. What do they get per song play? Maybe there were 100 of them working for a year at $100,000 each, maybe their software plays 100 million songs per day and the average piece of code will be around for 100 days…that’s 0.1 cent per song, 20% of the musician’s pay. And I don’t believe that writing good code is any less creative or competitive than writing/performing good music.

Sure, the engineers have a “guaranteed” salary and benefits, but most of them probably weren’t in at the start-up stage and so also are guaranteed that they aren’t going to get rich, even if Spotify becomes the next “mega-hit”.

Sorry, creative work (arts, software, graphic design), craftsmanship, and work in general (vs. being one of the overlords) doesn’t pay like maybe it should. Capitalism sucks some, and people are too cheap or poor to recognize and pay for quality. But the problem isn’t unique to musicians, and I don’t pity them any more than most.

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I can’t buy t-shirts 'cos I don’t like walking around all written on, like.

(But I do buy the CDs.)

Clearly we must all buy more lentils to increase their scarcity and thus value.

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Isn’t that only for calculations concerning stoichiometric lentils?

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Here I sit at 2am in Shinjuku giggling loudly. Nothing personal but in my experience and that of every musician I’ve known this simply isn’t true. It’s basically a Doctorowism, something that sounds truthy regarding a subject the writer has no actual knowledge of.

Yeah, that’s it…

Actually sometimes yes but one it passes the hobby stage, there’s always some aspect of work involved.

I imagine that the software engineers would be a lot more concerned about royalties and/or residuals if they had been hired on the “we pay you nothing or less upfront, compensation depends on sales” basis; and musicians would be a lot less if they were salaried employees producing works for hire.

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