Study Finds Record Labels Take Most of the Streaming Money From Artists

We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Streaming music is controversial amongst many musicians who claim that they don't get a fair shake of the revenue that's being pulled in. A new study of the music industry by the French recording industry confirms suspicions that at least part of the reason artists are getting screwed is because labels are taking all the money.

Music Business Worldwide reports the results of a wide-ranging study of the music market conducted by Ernst & Young on behalf of the French music trade organization SNEP, which counts amongst its members three major labels Warner, Sony, and Universal. Within the study there's an analysis of where the money from a €9.99 music subscription goes. (In Europe the main streaming players are are Spotify and Deezer.) The study notes that €4.56 of it goes to record labels, €2.08 goes to the platform, €1.67 goes to tax, €1 goes to publishers and songwriters, and €.68 goes to artists.

That's pretty lopsided in favor of the artists, but as Music Business Worldwide points out, when you remove the platform's share and tax from the equation, you're left with just royalties. And artists get hardly any of the nectar. Of the total €6.24 left over, the labels take 73 percent, while artists take just 10 percent. No wonder the artists feel like they're getting screwed. They are! And this data was produced at the behest of labels. It's incredible.


Yes, this is a study of the French music industry, but the contracts are mostly boilerplate and the big players, streaming services and the major labels, are exactly the same, so you can expect very similar numbers in the Unites States.

Mind you these findings line up with what we determined last fall during the kerfuffle between Taylor Swift and Spotify. Turns out the streaming music service was right: The labels are fucking artists over way worse than Spotify. [SNEP via World Music Worldwide via TechDirt]