As rapper Cornell Iral Haynes Jr., known professionally as Nelly, enters into an astronomical level of debt, it apparently falls into the hands of the public to defibrillate his bank account. But as heroic as the public has been in streaming his music night and day, Nelly is still at the bottom of the barrel.
However, one good thing that Nelly and his grillz have brought about is the questionable payment plans for artists who stream songs. If 60 million repeats of Nelly’s songs didn’t help, then there is something wrong with the profitability of music streaming.
While Nelly faces an IRS tax lien of an eye-popping $2,412,283 and owes an additional $149,511 in state taxes, his fans have been quick to help out. Listeners began streaming his nostalgic 2002 single “Hot in Herre” on Spotify in massive numbers, in hopes that he could fend off the IRS.
Unfortunately, this small problem is part of a larger issue, one where streaming websites are not paying off for artists that work hard to get their work to the public.
Artists across the globe are making considerably less money off their music being streamed than people really think. Frankly, this should not sit well with any artist who uses streaming sites, which is why most of them defer from this type of distribution.
Prominent artists like Prince and Taylor Swift removed their music from Spotify in protest of the lack of artist royalties. Swift famously wrote an open letter criticizing Spotify for giving “zero percent compensation to rights holders,” Swift said in an interview with Vanity Fair.
Drake’s songs were streamed on Spotify a whopping 1.8 billion times over the course of 2015. This seems like a massive amount of streaming time for the rapper. However, the amount of money he actually made compared to the streams is disparaging.
The Toronto native and Grammy Awards winner roughly made about $15 million off of those 1.8 billion streams from Spotify users worldwide, according to The Verge, an online publication that covers the intersection of technology, science, art and culture.
While that is a considerable amount of money, the math breaks down only $0.0083 per Spotify stream. While this might not matter for a big artist, it really would matter to someone who isn’t as popular as Drake, like Nelly.
Depending on the contract an artist has with Spotify, the music streaming service says that an average payout per stream to rights holders ranges between $0.006 and $0.0084. With numbers like that, a smaller or independent artist couldn’t exactly make a living off that kind of payout because not everyone can make the next “Hotline Bling.”
It doesn’t seem to make sense to artists if every time their songs are played they get less than one cent put into their pockets. A very real possibility is that artists will revert back to CDs or not allow their songs to stream for free.
Buying an artist’s CD or merchandise and going to their concerts does so much more for them rather than simply streaming their songs.
Just imagine how much artists can be making if people only bought their CDs. Nelly’s 2010 album “5.0” costs $15 at Target. If one million people bought that album, he would make just as much as Drake did, absolve his debt and maybe even get some new grillz. So instead of streaming one song 60 million times, just go buy an entire CD and help out the artists bringing that beautiful noise to your ears.
In retrospect, the public shouldn’t be concerned with having to help a rapper that had a net worth of $60 million. Artists who rely on streaming sites to push their music simply aren’t getting paid anywhere near enough money for their hard work. So if you would like to help out your fellow artists, then stop repeating the same songs and go out and get the entire CD.