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(Credit: Alexander Shatov)


Under 800 UK musicians are making a living from online streaming


According to a recent industry report, only 720 British musicians make a living solely from streaming royalties. The ‘Music Creators Earnings In The Digital Era’ study has been released by the UK Intellectual Property Office. It analysed data from a variety of streaming services between 2014-2020. Alongside soft data, the report includes focus groups and interviews with musicians.

One notable finding has established that around 720 British musicians are making a “sustainable living” from streaming alone. Those 720 musicians make up the 0.4 per cent of artists who are hitting more than one million UK streams. The study used October 2020 as the focus month for the statistics. During that period, the number of artists achieving over one million UK streams was 1,723 (0.41 per cent). However, the amount does not differentiate between British and international artists.

As the report states: “We estimate that this 1723 UK figure may translate into around 720 UK artists achieving this level of success in 2020, but the number of variables makes this only a very rough guide.” The report, which has cited data from the OCC and BPI, states that the share of the top 5,000 UK singles ‘sales’ attributable to UK artists in 2019 was 41.8 per cent. American artists, however, accounted for 43.2 per cent.

According to the study report: “Applying this figure to the 1723 artists achieving more than 1 million streams in the UK, this would mean that 720 British artists gain a million or more UK streams a month (because 41.8% of 1723 is 720) and therefore exceed what we are suggesting might be some sort of minimum basis for sustaining a career.”

In other words: 0.41 per cent of artists who earn money from their streams in the UK, whether they are British or not, are able to rely solely on that income. The report went on to add: “On the basis of the average per-stream rates we have calculated, we suggest that a sustained achievement of around one million UK streams per month may be some kind of guide to a minimum threshold for making a sustainable living out of music, at least in cases where UK streams are complemented by non-UK streams and other sources of income. For solo performers and songwriters and for those with significant access to other revenue streams, that minimum threshold figure will be lower.”

Meanwhile, The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has been analysing the business model for streaming sites since 2020 in order to establish whether or not the model is fair to songwriters and performers.