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Charlotte Krol
4 May 2023, 07:08

75% of artists make a loss when they release music, research finds

Acts spend more than they make from streams, sales, sync and other music revenue streams combined

Close-up shot of person DJing

New research has found that 75% of artists make a loss when they release music.

PIRATE.COM, a global music studio that hosts 350,000 artists worldwide, recently surveyed more than 1,000 live musicians, producers, rappers and MCs from the UK and US about how they promote their music. 

The studio discovered that 75% of musicians who pay to promote their releases spend more than they make from streams, sales, sync deals and other music revenue streams combined.

PIRATE.COM’s study comes as Spotify rolls out more promotional videos on its platform, which has described by the global studio as short-form “TikTokification”. With that in mind, PIRATE.COM asked artists if they would consider making short-form videos to promote their next release. 56% of music creators said that they would, while 76% planned to make a traditional music video.

36% of artists said that they were unsure whether they would add a 30-second clip for their next release. 32% of artists said they would use the feature, while 16% said they wouldn’t (13% of artists surveyed haven’t released music on Spotify).

Elsewhere in the survey, 91% of the acts said that they promote their music independently without the support of a label or manager. 

54% of music creators surveyed said they use their main social media accounts for self-promotion above socialising, which has led to 51% of artists taking a social media detox at some point in their career. The platform favoured by musicians was Instagram (88% of respondents had an account). The second most popular was YouTube (69%), followed by Facebook (58%) and TikTok (42%).

“As an artist doing your own promo, it’s both harder and easier in the social media age. Platforms reward a constant stream of content which takes a lot of work, the payoff is that you can build your own audience rather than just trying to break through gatekeepers,” Dan Davis, Head of Community at PIRATE.COM said.

“Making music in the social media age means constantly jumping on new promotional trends. However, making content is rarely free and new revenue sources for artists aren’t emerging at the same rate as new trends,” he added.

The study follows recent news that Spotify has expanded its controversial Discovery Mode program, which offers artists more exposure for fewer royalties. The streaming giant first announced its move to offer labels the chance to influence its complex recommendation algorithm in exchange for a ‘promotional royalty rate’ in 2020. Now it will be available directly within Spotify for Artists.

Earlier this year, PIRATE launched a new initiative that will offer emerging artists paid gig opportunities at major festivals. Learn more about that here