Debates regarding music streaming services always revolve around the same set of numbers. These services all use a similar model: subscribers pay a flat monthly rate that offers them a full library of music for their unlimited listening pleasure. Artists take issue with their compensation per song–about $0.007 per stream–while subscribers compare monthly pricing models of Spotify, the upcoming Apple Music and the countless other options for unlimited access to the world´s music. Assuming that $0.007 per stream figure isn't changing anytime soon, all hope of increasing artist profits must come from the fans. Lucky for bands, subscribers wield a wallet of which they weren’t even aware.
Let's break down the math. We've already discussed the $0.007 per song stream, a fairly standard number across the streaming board (unless you're Tidal, which has tanked epically since its star-studded announcement). However, we, the subscribers, pay $10 per month for the right to listen to as many songs as we like, giving that $0.007 with each listen. Seven-tenths of a cent is not some insignificant number; realize that we're able to reward bands with that sum as many times as we can fit in a day.
Now, to see how far we can take our per song spending power. According to Mashable, the average pop song is three minutes long. That means every three minutes, Spotify subscribers distribute $0.007 to the artist of their choosing. That adds up faster than you'd think. Your 24-hour day divides into 1,440 minutes, or 480 songs per day. Throw a calculator at those figures and you'll arrive at $3.36 in per day spending power.
Of course, if you're going to maximize your band spending, that means round-the-clock listening. Sure, you're sleeping a third of your day, but those eight hours (or $1.12) shouldn't go to waste just because you have class tomorrow. Los Angeles band Vulpeck took overnight listening a step further, releasing an album with no sound (so listeners could constantly stream it while they slept without interruption) specifically to earn those streams. The comically titled Sleepify earned about $20,000 from 5.4 million streams—not bad for no music. While Spotify eventually pulled Vulpeck's not-album, just dial down the volume on your favorite band overnight for a similar effect.
Now that you're throwing $3.36 at bands daily, let's examine the long-term results. A 30-day month of 24-hour listening results in $100.80 of artist revenue, significantly more power than you'd expect from a $10 monthly subscription. Take that listening consistency through a full year and send $1226.40 to bands of your choice—a hell of a lot more than they'd earn from a $10 iTunes album purchase.
This is the life-hack of streaming, especially now that Taylor Swift’s tirade against Apple forced the company to pay music rights holders during subscribers’ three month free trial. No matter your service, help out your favorite artists, plug in the earbuds and play your tunes 24/7, whether you're listening or not.
Jack Appleby is a columnist for AltPress. Follow him on Twitter.