Indie Artist Decision Time: Will Our New Record Be On Spotify?

by Bobby Gilles

in Music Business

Many music fans love Spotify because it’s an easy way to listen to music on computer or smartphone, and to put songs you like into your own playlists. But songwriters and recording artists — especially those of us not on major record labels — often dislike Spotify. Why? Because if thousands of you listen to a song on Spotify, the artist/songwriter might make $2 or $3. And that’s not nearly enough to recoup the cost of recording or budget for future recording.

Kristen and I have thought long and hard about whether to put Parker’s Mercy Brigade on Spotify. We’ve given away music for free on Noisetrade before, but this project is different. We’re donating half of all proceeds to Nadus Films, to help disadvantaged children around the world. So we really want people to buy it. We want to give Nadus lots of money. Spotify royalties won’t cut it.

But … we’ve decided to put Parker’s Mercy Brigade on Spotify next week. And Rdio, and other streaming services. We want these songs to minister to as many people as possible, and we understand that not everyone can afford to pay $10 for this record, with all the bills and other costs of living that must be met. We also understand that many people who do support artists by buying CDs and mp3 downloads still enjoy listening to those records on services like Spotify. You like making playlists (online “mix tapes”) with your favorite songs, and sharing them on social media. We do, too.

We still hope you will buy Parker’s Mercy Brigade if you can afford to, knowing that you could literally change the lives of kids living in some of the most dangerous, devastated places on earth, like Sudan. But if you can’t fit the purchase into your household budget, we’d be honored for you to listen on Spotify and other streaming services.

And if you do buy the CD or download it from iTunes or Amazon, we still want you to be able to stream it when it’s convenient or fun for you to do so, and when you want to include these songs on playlists with songs you enjoy by other artists and worship ministries. Regardless how you listen to it, we believe God gave us the songs on Parker’s Mercy Brigade in order to help you make much of Him, as He uses the songs to edify, comfort and challenge you. We’re confident that God will do whatever He wants to do with Parker’s Mercy Brigade, whether that’s through streaming, downloads, CDs, or singing the songs together at your local church.

Finally though, please don’t be disappointed when some of your favorite artists choose not to make their music available for streaming — especially independent artists and church ministries who, like us, don’t have access to big budgets and professional marketing firms. It’s expensive to record music, and to have it mixed, mastered, pressed into CDs and distributed to all the online channels. Maybe someday the economics of digital streaming will be scalable, and royalties will rise, but that day is not yet on the horizon for indie bands.

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