Streaming, like any new addition to the music business, is proving to be a double-edged sword, giving artists an incredible platform to find new listeners, but not much in the way of a financial return. But just how unfeasible is it for a band to be scraping together a living from their music these days?

As Rock Feeds reports, a recently-updated study on music earnings has shaken the magic 8-ball again for 2017, and the reply is still ‘Outlook not so good’. Now, it comes as no surprise that streaming isn’t giving bands an income (or even the streaming services, for that matter), but the sheer volume of streams required to hit even minimum wage may come as a shock to some.

The report, conducted by Digital Music News, finds that for an artist to hit a $1,400 USD living wage, they’ll need to get either 230,000 plays on Apple Music each month, or 380,000 plays on Spotify. Then, if you take into account that most bands have more than one member, you’re suddenly having to double, triple or quadruple those figures just to ensure each member can pay their rent.

So, for a four-piece band, they’ll just need a casual 1.5 million plays each month to even scrape by.

Of course, the streaming services aren’t exactly raking in the cash and holding it back from musicians, with SoundCloud constantly followed by a dark cloud of rumours regarding its imminent collapse, and Spotify posting up ever-increasing losses as it struggles to pay its massive royalty bills.

But it’s ultimately on the streaming platforms to sort that out, and make sure artists get a fair result from their efforts – and on the listeners to decide that they’re ready to pay for music again. With Spotify Premium memberships up to 60 million as of today, we just might be starting to get there.

Get unlimited access to the coverage that shapes our culture.
to Rolling Stone magazine
to Rolling Stone magazine