Fewer than 800 UK musicians make a living solely from streaming

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And they’re about to get over a million UK streams every month

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Around 720 British musicians make their living from streaming royalties only, a new study has suggested.

  • Read more: Streaming – what happens next? Artists demand “change in way of doing business”
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study title Earnings of Music Producers in the Digital Age, released by the UK Intellectual Property Office, which analyzed data from streaming services between 2014-2020.

As well as collecting and analyzing data, the report includes interviews with focus groups as well as musicians.


A particular search points to artists making “sustainable lives” from streaming alone, revealing that there are around 720 British artists capable. Those 720 musicians fall into the 0.4 percent category, receiving over a million UK streams.

October 2020 was used as the focus month for the data. The number of artists receiving one million UK streams or more in that period was 1,723 (0.41 per cent), however, this amount does not differentiate between British artists and artists from elsewhere.

“We estimate that this 1723 UK figure could translate into approximately 720 UK artists achieving this level of success in 2020, but the number of variables makes this only a very rough guide,” the report reads. .

Spotify. credit: Getty Images

Citing data provided by the OCC and BPI, the report stated that the share of the top 5,000 UK singles ‘sales’ [combining physical and download sales data with streaming figures to produce composite figures] Last year in 2019, 41.8 per cent were due to UK artists. By comparison, the share of American artists in the UK was 43.2 per cent.

“Applying this figure to 1723 artists receiving over 1 million streams in the UK would mean that 720 British artists receive one million or more UK streams a month (since 41.8% of 1723 is 720) and therefore What we are suggesting is more than that there may be some kind of minimum ground to sustain the career,” the report said.


Overall, this means that 0.41 percent of artists earning money from their streams in the UK, British or not, can rely solely on that income.

“Based on the average per-stream rates we have calculated, we suggest that the continued achievement of around one million UK streams per month may be some kind of guide to the minimum threshold for a sustainable living from music, at least Less in cases where UK streams are complemented by non-UK streams and other sources of income. For solo artists and songwriters and those with significant access to other revenue streams, the minimum threshold figure will be lower,” the report said. Having said.

Elsewhere in the report – for the number of musicians whose income is based entirely on music – 43 per cent reported earning £20,000 or less and 64 per cent reported £30,000 or less.

The median income for those currently signed to major record labels (£51,816 in 2019) is “significantly higher” than for all other groups of artists.

streaming services
photo credit: ascanio/alami stock photos

Those who had previously signed to major record companies come in next (£25,500). For those signed to independent record labels, the average reported income is £20,250 while for self-released artists it is £12,944.

The UK government called on several music industry leaders to help consider streaming reforms in response to a recent report by the DCMS Committee on the Economics of Streaming.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Commons Selection Committee has been examining the business model for streaming since last year and whether the model is appropriate for songwriters and artists.

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