How Much Music You Have To Sell To Make Minimum Wage

The Numbers Aren't Pretty      05/02/11
How Much Music You Have To Sell To Make Minimum Wage

'Cynical Musician', blogger Krzysztof Wiszniewski. has run the numbers on how much music you need to sell, in various formats, in order to make as much as you would working a minimum-wage job (in the US). 

The numbers aren't pretty:

  • In the case of Amazon and iTunes single-track downloads, 1,813 units must be sold monthly; 21,750 units a year.
  • For CD Baby full album downloads, the numbers are: 155 units a month; 1,859 units a year
  • For eMusic single-track downloads: 3,392 downloads a month; 40,941 a year.
  • With Rhapsody streams, you’ll need 127,473 streams a month; 1,529,670 a year.
  • Finally, rates mean you’ll need 7,733,333 plays monthly; 92,800,000 plays a year.

These numbers assume that you're not in a band. If you're in a four-piece band, the numbers are higher:

  • Amazon and iTunes, single-track downloads: 7,250 a month; 87,000 a year.
  • CD Baby full-album downloads: 619 a month; 7,433 a year.
  • eMusic single-track downloads: 13,567 a month; 162,807 a year.
  • Rhapsody streams: 509,890 a month; 6,118,681 a year.
  • plays: 30,933,333 a month; 371,200,000 a year.

Wiszniewski's numbers suggest that musicians's shouldn't expect music sales to be a large part of their income and not expect Internet radio to be part of it at all.

Let us know what you think of Wiszniewski's numbers and how much music you need to sell just to make minimum wage. 


Image: antoniofurno

James Lewin
Twitter @podcasting_news


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9 Comments...  Post a comment    original story
tesla    Said...

Well, thats why so many of us whore ourselves out as composers and sound designers... yay! babylon.

05-Feb-11 08:59 PM

selercs    Said...

Music is business is not. with the likes of folks with meagre talents like lady gaga and justin bieber, it doesn't surprise me at all. The whole music industry has gone the way of MTV (as opposed to the 80's when MTV actually was MUSIC television).

This is why I never take my music production seriously. I do it for fun and self satisfaction but never as a profession. Unless you are LUCKY like Lady Gaga or Bieber.

05-Feb-11 09:34 PM

/:setAI    Said...

makes you wonder if anyone who buys a huge boutique modular system ever makes the cost back-

06-Feb-11 11:55 AM

NIck B    Said...

Actually, 1.8k a month seems fairly reaosnable and even acheivable if you are doing this full, time. Plus you can always enhance with a bit of merch, also some gigs perhaps, the occansional sync or buyout for music to be used by TV or whatever.

My main concern is the total unviability of the streaming royalties and therefore the model in general, tends to lean towards the digital ownership to make financial sense.

But from an end users point of view, if we all paid £5-10 per month to access all we wanted via Spotify or simillar services, would the revenues be enough then?

I would like to know

06-Feb-11 12:32 PM

selercs    Said...


U r right...from the subscribers point of view paying around 10 - 15 (pounds, or dollars/month), I don't think it would be enough eh to cover paying the artists, eh? That's why at least in US they have $0.99 charge per song. This is a better way than a fixed monthly charge.

Definitely this is not a reliable source of income.

COmpared to the 70's and 80's and even some of the 90's, musical quality has diminished and quantity increased.

Unless there is a revolution against digital downloading and there should be a law that in order to listen to your favorite song, you gotta buy the whole album!

06-Feb-11 02:46 PM

James    Said...

I've always been skeptical about the idea that music now has to be given away as a promotional tool, and that you need to make your money off of live performance and merchandise.

Numbers like this, though, make me reconsider!

06-Feb-11 09:00 PM

lagrangeaudio    Said...

So we could be knackered either way. We can't make money selling music and its really competitive getting regular live spots at a venue to make a living. Unless you get to play to 500+ regularly you aint going to make anything. I agree with selercs, plus there's always broadcast stuff.

12-Feb-11 12:49 AM

lagrangeaudio    Said...

Just building on what I said before about making music for broadcast, in Australia we have gone from 5 to 16 free-to-air digital TV channels with more to come to satisify our insatiable appetite for content. The musical part of all of this has to come from somewhere and has to be paid for, so go out and make it!!!

12-Feb-11 01:51 AM

T_H_C    Said...

I, like many audio enthusiasts, now have what would have been a multi million dollar recording facility of the 1980s and 90s... in my spare room! (Better in many regards)

We are all millionaires!

12-Feb-11 03:28 AM

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