Streaming: Friend or foe of musicians?

I'm not a fan of making important business decisions based on assumptions or hearsay. I want to know the facts. With my first album in production, I wanted to know if I would make more money by placing my songs on streaming services or less money. We all know how low the streaming royalties are but the real question is: Does placing my material on streaming sites cause me to sell fewer or more albums?

In December, 2021, I commenced surveying music fans to discover how they 'consumed' music. The results are graphed below with conclusions at the bottom.

Important Notes:
1. The data presented is NOT representative of the general population. All people surveyed were self-identified as big music fans. (i.e. the people independent acts most need to reach). 
2. You will note that all respondents were 35 or older. This is a reflection of where we were asking the questions. There were too few respondents below the age of 35 to be statistically significant. We will survey a broader cross section of ages next time. :)
(Click the chart thumbnails to expand.)

Many thanks to Cedric Hendrix at CirdecSongs and Roger Trenwith at The Progressive Aspect for sharing the survey with their followers.


My assumptions and expectations:

1. I expected people 60+ to be most likely to still be buying albums since that's what they grew up with. I expected the rate of purchasing to decrease significantly with younger age groups.
2. I had, to some extent, bought into the belief that people who subscribe to streaming services no longer buy albums.

What the results show:

1. People who appreciate great musicianship (a characteristic of the primary groups surveyed) are still buying albums.
2. Of the people who still buy albums, a significant majority buy 10+ albums per year.
3. The percentage of respondents who purchased 10 or more albums per year was fairly consistent across all age groups sampled. (Very encouraging! No drop off with younger respondents.)
4. The younger the respondent, the more likely they were to subscribe to a streaming service. This did not impact the percentage of their respective group that purchased 10+ albums per year.

And now the big one!

Amongst people who purchase 10+ albums per year (the key people we independent acts want to get our music in front of), almost half that were over 60 subscribed to streaming services. That percentage increased as age decreased to a whopping 84% with the 35-45 age group.

Based on this, I will definitely be uploading my music to streaming sites when the album is finished though I will start with a hybrid approach I have seen some other acts take: upload some but not all tracks. Research to be continued!

Want to follow the progress of my project (using my album as a guinea pig to test ideas on how an independent act can create a predictable, sustainable, full time income from music)? Join the update list today!