On-demand streaming doesn't pay.
Well, technically, it does pay—artists, songwriters, and producers are all able to generate royalties every time a song is streamed—just not very well.
Last month, it was reported that Lil Uzi Vert's 2x Platinum-certified smash single, “XO Tour Llif3,” which has been streamed more than 1.3 billion times, has netted the rapper approximately $900k. If you think those numbers are depressing, though, wait until you see the earnings that Norwegian songwriter, record producer, and musician Andre Lindal was able to generate from Justin Bieber's 2012 single, "As Long As You Love Me," for which he served as a co-producer, which peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 (June 30, 2012) and is currently 4x Platinum.
According to the record's co-producer, Rodney "Darkchild" Jerkins, as of 2013, Lindal earned a total of $149,000 in royalties (20%) through BMI. While Jerkins didn't break down the entire amount by source, he did highlight the income generated in the first year through two on-demand streaming platforms: Pandora and YouTube. On Pandora, 38,225,700 streams of "As Long As You Love Me" generated $278 and on YouTube, 34,220,900 plays generated... wait for it... $218.17.
Rodney was nice enough to also do the math for us if, instead of only owning 20% of the record, Lindal was to have owned 100%. On Pandora, he would have generated $1,400; on YouTube, $1,100. Again, this is for a record that reached the Billboard Hot 100 top ten.
Now, it's important to keep in mind that streaming was in a very different place in 2012 and 2013 than it is today, as evidenced by the fact that, over the past four-plus years, "As Long As You Love Me" YouTube views have ballooned from 34 million to, as of this morning (October 6), 393 million. In addition, Spotify is now available globally, Apple Music and TIDAL exist and Amazon Prime Music, though not a sexy name like the others, has the second biggest on-demand subscription market share (Spotify is No. 1).
Based on the data made available to us from the 2013 royalty statement, 393 million YouTube plays (the current total) would project out to approximately $2,505 in royalties over five years time. Of course, that doesn't account for YouTube slashing their royalty payments by 50% in 2015, which means the total revenue generated for a song that has produced nearly 400 million (!) YouTube views is likely hovering around $2,000.
Alongside his A2 Productions production partner, Anthony Preston, the GRAMMY Award-winning Lindal has racked up writing and production credits for Jennifer Hudson, Pitbull, T.I., Afrojack and more.
We have reached out to Rodney Jerkins for further insight into these numbers, but he did not immediately respond to requests for comment from DJBooth.