Whenever I hear the argument over copyright fire up, I am amazed at how little those who steal copyrighted material understand about the impact on copyright holders. When it comes to music, copyright infringers love to point out that Rihanna, Justin Bieber and JayZ have more than enough money, and they won’t miss a couple of bucks here or there. They also argue that if they like the free download, they’ll make the effort to purchase a legitimate copy of what they downloaded for free. I don’t believe it, and the stats prove that I have good reason not to believe it.
So let’s take a look at what a recording artist really needs in order to earn just under $1,200 per month or about $292 per week (which is actually below minimum wage).
We all know that whenever an artist puts out a new CD, it’s available for download via iTunes and other major download portals. If the entire CD costs $9.99 to download, the artist earns $6.82 from that download. To earn minimum wage for the month, they’d have to move 171 CDs.
Of course, what if the artist isn’t an indie artist and is lucky enough to be signed to a major label? Surely things get easier for the recording artist at that point, right? No. Signed to a major label, 2,320 full CD downloads would have to happen every month for the artist to earn minimum wage for the month. Ah yes, maybe that’s why there’s such a shift, and most singer-songwriters opt for indie status.
Now what if the market doesn’t want to download an artist’s full CD? What if the market is only interested in buying single downloads? That indie artist would have to nail 1,706 single downloads to earn that $1,200 for the month. That’s not so bad when you compare it to what would happen to that same artist signed to a major label. That poor artist would have to sell 14,500 single downloads to maintain that monthly minimum wage. That’s all the more reason for singer-songwriters to maintain autonomy, and live life as an indie artist!
How about ringtones? Everyone owns a cellphone and everyone wants special ringtones, right? If you can get your ringtone downloaded 23,200 times every month, then you’ll be able to hold up a bank statement that proves you earned minimum wage every month.
Maybe the way to go is streaming music then. After all, artists are paid when their music is streamed. If we’re talking Rhapsody, that musician is going to have to hope there’s 127,427 plays in his or her name in order to brag about earning minimum wage in a month. And on Spotify, it’s even harder to earn that amount because that same artist is going to have to secure 232,000 plays throughout the month to see $1,200 in his or her hot little hands.
So there you have it … that’s how singer-songwriters in the music industry earn their big bucks every month. That is, that’s how it’s done unless you’re an indie artist, and then you have to deduct the costs associated with promoting and marketing your music. It’s time to revise those numbers again to account for expenses, so the indie artist can earn minimum wage.
Here’s a special note to those who feel no remorse when they steal from copyright owners: We don’t go to your place of employment , cash your paycheck and keep the money, so don’t steal our paychecks. We pay into the economy just like other law-abiding business owners. You owe us some respect for our financial, social, and emotional investment in the country where we live.