In Which I Finally Derive Streaming Income From My Album of Music

In October of 2015 I took Music For Headphones, an album of electronic music I put together, onto various streaming services via CD Baby (CD Baby did all the work; I just gave them money to do it). I also set it up for CD Baby to collect my income from streaming on the various music services and send it to me when the amount reached a certain threshold. This morning, after 21 months, the threshold was achieved, and CD Baby sent me the cash, minus their own small cut:


(CD Baby’s cut, in case you were curious: $2, which means the album earned $25.38, which makes sense because I asked CD Baby to send along money once it reached the $25 mark.)

You might think this is where I would gripe about the shockingly low amount of money one receives from streaming one’s work on the various music services, and if I were an actual working musician, I might do. But really I’m just sort of mildly amazed that I’m getting any money at all out of Spotify, et al. Music is, shall we say, not even a side gig for me. That people are listening to this album at all is kind of nifty. Clearly, not many are. But at least a couple.

So, yeah. I won’t be giving up my day job. But it’s fun to know my music will buy me a pizza, every couple of years.

21 Comments on “In Which I Finally Derive Streaming Income From My Album of Music”

  1. Shucks mate. I’ve been posting sets for free for about a year now. After the Pulse Nightclub shooting, I figured more good music in the world for people looking to just find a small getaway would be a good thing. Don’t get paid for any of it, and understand music is very personal and I won’t be insulted if it doesn’t click, but maybe this will help you find your groove the way it does for me. I hope you enjoy.

  2. very neat! :) and hey, with a coupon I think u could splurg on two pizzas! at least that’s what i tell myself re my own creative efforts’ $ returns, lol!

  3. Have you considered releasing an album to coincide with a book release? You could name tracks after chapters and try and capture the feeling of the chapter in the track? I just took a quick listen of you your work and it is right up my alley.

  4. I just checked on Spotify and it say you have 4 monthly listeners. That’s twice as many as normally hear the songs that I write (which is my wife and daughter when I decide to plunk on my guitar in the living room)

  5. Icarus:

    I have no memory but it wasn’t that much. Probably more than $25, though.

    Jeremy Tirrell:

    I often commission a song for the release of a book, although I usually pay an actual musician to do those.

  6. The Nifty Factor is pretty satisfying. My band released an album in 2012. I used a digital distribution company to get it out into the universe, and pay $10 a year for the service. The album can be found on pretty much any streaming service. We’ve earned a grand total of $6.81 from 1,625 plays. I’m just happy to have the music out there, and it’s always interesting to see the stats on the location of the plays.

  7. Ha! Finally I’m more successful than Scalzi, by an order of magnitude no less.

    The band I spent the 90’s destroying my hearing in put on a rock opera* where I earned a whopping CND$250 for a 10 day run.

    Never mind that despite playing regularly for almost a decade I only remember getting paid directly one other time. I got a princely sum, just enough to buy a mickey of vodka.

    And never mind that that $250 worked out around 30 cents per hour…

    And never mind the exchange rate…


    [slinks off to re-evaluate his life]

    *The Illumination of Marshal McLuhan, in which the titular protagonist has a metaphysical revelation that leads him to making a faustian bargain with Cthulhu. A bargain that he then circumvents the consequences of by having himself encoded in a vat of nano-computers. Yeah, it still boggles my mind that we made as much money as we did. It’s on Youtube, good luck making any sense of it.

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