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How Does Spotify Pay Artists? It’s the biggest mystery in music. One independent artist claims to have received a measly $0.004 per stream. There was a rumor that Lady Gaga only earned $162 from a million streams. Even indie band Grizzly Bear chimed in to express their displeasure with the alleged slave wages of Spotify declaring that they only received $0.001 per stream. Some have even taken to restricting their music from the service altogether. Is it really that bad? are the payments that low?

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In the 20th century, ownership of copies of musical works became the primary way to make our favorite music available to us, at any time. It became such a strong standard, that instead of saying that people were buying copies of musical works, we conflated it to ‘buying music’. No end consumer has ever paid for music though. I’ll explain.

At the turn of the last century, the availability of your favorite music depended mainly on your own ability to play an instrument or that of those around you. When performing live, they could ‘sell’ music as a temporary experience. Then came the copy and people started paying for sheet music, records and later CDs and MP3s.