"Thanks for the sandwich": Weird Al Yankovic tells the truth about Spotify in his "Spotify Wrapped" video

Originally published at: "Thanks for the sandwich": Weird Al Yankovic tells the truth about Spotify in his "Spotify Wrapped" video | Boing Boing


Weird Al is a national treasure.

Also, if he wants to come hang out, I’d be happy to buy him a whole dinner.


I dunno if this is right but google says about 4 grand for 1 million streams… which means Weird Al made 320,000 for 80 million streams. Maybe the pay doesn’t scale in a linear fashion? That’s a far cry from 12 dollars. I still don’t have the faintest idea if it is “fair”.

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Satire, noun: the use of humour, irony, exaggeration or ridicule to expose and criticise people or ideas.

“Weird Al” Yankovic, celebrity: a musical satirist…


Via my wife and the user listed below…


I switched to Tidal a while ago for this reason. There are definitely some things I miss from Spotify (features and some gaps in the library), but overall it’s worked fine for me. Their mid-level plan costs the same as Spotify, I believe.

Also, personal point in its favor: the “discover” recommendations are daily and quite variable, which I rather like in a discovery system. Just this past weekend I got a Playlist that started with ICP and ended with JPop-electronica. Not the first time that feature actually got a laugh out of me.


I’m familiar with the concept and who he is. My point is if the intent is to criticize spotify via satire I’m not sure it’s valid but I’m willing put forth that I may be missing some data. How much wealth should he have received? If it is over a quarter of a million dollars is that not enough? How much money did spotify make from those streams? What’s fair? I’m honestly curious.


I know someone in an indie band who says a good rule of thumb is $0.006 times number of streams is what the artists + label get, then the artists gets between like 20%-80% of that based on the deal with the label.

So Al and his label(s) are splitting 480k, and I imagine he has a good deal with his label, so maybe he makes 300k. Given he released nothing in 2023, and given that this is just one of several revenue streams…

I do really wish Spotify would change its revenue model. I’d pay more if the more was going only to the artists I listen to.

What is Al talking about? My understanding is that the low rate is .003 cents per stream. 80 million streams = $240,000. OK, not a ton of money but c’mon Al, the good ol gravy train days are gone. Today, the insane prices for live shows and merch more than make up for the low play for streaming. So pardon me for not crying for Al.

Of course many artists mad a devils bargain and don’t own their own music rights and they have to split it with the labels.

The Muppets No GIF by ABC Network

Live Nation takes a huge cut on the venue side. If you’re not a smaller artist, playing small, independent venues, you have to deal with that as well. Very few artists are making bank like Beyonce and Taylor Swift on either album sales or tours, even people with long and storied careers like Weird Al. I mean, I’m sure he’s financially fine, because of that long career, but if he were a newer artist just making it, he’d be screwed, even if he reached the level of fan support he has now.

The entire mainstream music industry is far worse for the artists then it was in the 80s and 90s, when at least there was decent set of alternative institutions for supporting smaller artists, but all of that has been gutted since the late 90s/early 2000s.



I make music as a hobby, and I really wouldn’t want to be relying on it for my primary income stream in today’s market. I almost also think that’s the point Weird Al was trying to make. I don’t think he’s trying to make us feel sorry for him personally.

Also, when people bring up touring as an alternative, I really want to point out that to make a living through touring you pretty much have to do it all the time, which is not a great way to live long-term.

Edit: Fixed an iPhone autocorrect typo.


People should read Henry Rollin’s book Get in the Van… It’s not an easy life, especially at that level, where you do have an international audience, but aren’t a major touring act… although some enjoy doing it. But it’s not easy. And once you hit a certain level, you have no choice but to deal with Live Nation/Ticketmaster, because they’re really the only game in town from mid-sized venues on up to the major stadiums. I saw They Might Be Giants, and they played a venue that’s large enough to be tied into that ecosystem.


Added to my list… though it looks like it’s out of print so I’m either going to have to find it in a used book store or read it on an e-reader. Definitely not spending several hundred dollars for a used copy on Amazon.


I’m pretty sure it’s per song, not per artist. Weird Al is prolific and has dozens, I’m sure well over a hundred songs on Spotify. Splitting those streams up by song before determining the payment means he’s getting a lot less than that.


Also, that’s 70% for his record label(s), that doesn’t necessarily (and in fact often, even for the big names) mean it’s all coming to him. That 70% has to be divided up amongst the rightsholders and stakeholders.


Maybe the internet archive has it?


Keep in mind, it’s by a young man who is pissed off all the time, so…

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Narrator: it isn’t.

Having your song listened to a million times and only getting $4200 in revenue (if your math is accurate) is just a travesty any way you slice it. I’m sure the check he actually gets is far smaller once you factor in taxes and after everybody else in the chain of distribution gets their cut. Weird Al is a prolific artist who writes a lot of original songs, but he’s still just a cog in the machine.


(Which makes me wonder if Weird Al ever parodied any Pink Floyd songs.)

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According to the canonical list:

That’s a nope.

It is worth noting that this has always been the situation; terrestrial radio has never paid performers for music*, it was always viewed as advertising to drive record sales. If you didn’t get a writing credit it has been completely normal for a long time to have a million listens and get nothing.

*they pay songwriters/publishers, not performers