As a professional organist I always wanted to earn a living from what I do. This is probably very common thread among most musicians. I suspect if you are a professional, you would rather be living off your art than working side jobs.
The truth is that for most organists traditionally they need to do at least 3 things at the same time to survive - play church services, teach and play recitals. There are of course people who specialise in just one area but chances to make it are greater when you combine the 3 activities. Add to this mix selling your CD's and often you can make a living. Of course not many people choose to buy CD's anymore but that's another question.
The age of the Internet has opened new possibilities too. You can get paid for teaching organ playing online, sell your scores, or stream your music.
Traditionally music streaming is done on platforms like streaming giants as Spotify, Apple Music and many smaller ones. These services are a real paradise for listeners. While paying a low monthly subscription fee you get to choose from their enormous catalogue of tenths of millions of tracks. Literally anything you can think of, you will find on Spotify or Apple Music.
However, for musicians this arrangement is not very appealing because you would get paid for each stream only a fraction of a penny. If your music is distributed through a label, it also takes a cut, if you are performing with a group of people, then each of you would get even a smaller percentage of revenue.
Of course, for big names and big labels this arrangement works very well because they get the majority of streams. For independent or up-and-coming musicians this means most of them will never make it.
Based on the stats below from my Artist page on Spotify, I have 677 streams in the last 28 days. According to Streaming Royalty Calculator website, my revenue should be $2.71 USD. Probably less than that because Spotify earnings vary from country to country.
YouTube also pays content creators, such as musicians a portion of their ad revenue. However, today the requirement to be admitted into their Partner Program has a rather high bar - the most prominent being 1000 subscribers and 4000 watch hours in the last 12 months.
Of course, every YouTuber can make some additional money from affiliate revenue or selling courses and merchandise but for this to happen, you have to have a rather large and engaged audience.
My Secrets of Organ Playing channel luckily is monetised but the amount of money I receive from the ads is not something I can rely on. It varies between 30 and 35 USD a month at the moment. It comes into my bank account ones it reaches 70 EUR threshold, in this case, every 2 months or so.
So I hope you can see that in this system clearly something is broken for average musician. Yes, you will make some money from your music but are you being compensated fairly?
The good news is that recent technological developments in the blockchain area tries to fix this disconnect. In the last 3 years quite a few platforms have been springing up which offer direct, faster and bigger returns for musicians. Some of them are less successful than others when it comes to user adoption. Some of them are already absolete. But some have been doing great progress. One of them is Emanate.
It's too early to tell if Emanate will be a success story but the start is really promising. I first heard about it at the end of 2019 but it was in the early development stage and music upload was limited to invited artists only.
The promise of Emanate which is based in Australia, is that they offer instant, direct and fair compensation for musicians for every second their music is listened.
When they opened the gates to the public, in the middle of September I created my profile and started uploading the audios of some of my videos from YouTube. At first I wouldn't pay much attention to it because my tracks would get very few streams.
Right now there are almost no classical musicians on Emanate yet (most of them create electronic music) so I have been sharing my tracks with some friends to see if they like it. When yesterday one such friend was listening to my Sarabande by Louis Couperin (a 2 minute piece) I kept refreshing my earning stats on the dashboard in my profile. Here's what I saw as he kept listening over those 2 minutes:
That's right. One stream of a 2 minute piece earned me 3 ct. That's not a lot as a whole but on Spotify I would get 0.004 USD (probably less) for such stream (provided the listener kept on playing the track for at least 30 seconds). 0.004 USD on Spotify versus 0.03 USD on Emanate. That's 7.5 times more! Probably closer to 10 times in reality.
Oh and by the way, I would have to wait for those 0.004 USD from Spotify for about 2 months to be transferred to my account and on Emanate I could instantly convert the native MNX tokens to EMT in my wallet, from there to EOS (because Emanate runs on EOSIO blockchain) and use that EOS any way I want, like convert it to other currencies such as Bitcoin, USD or EUR.
Run the math. If there are 10 people listening to your 2 minute track, you would earn 0.30 USD. 100 listens give 3 USD and so on. What if the piece is 4 minutes long? That's right, if people listen twice as long, you would get twice as revenue. Of course, this is what Emanate pays currently and in the future the payout rates might fluctuate.
Emanate is also really good for collaborations because you can specify the exact percentage for each member of your team. If you play in a trio, you can split your revenue 3 ways in whatever proportion you want. In fact, you can split your revenue with up to 50 people. This opens up many ideas for choirs, ensembles, orchestras and even fans. By the way, your fans who create playlists would also get rewarded in the future.
As I said, right now there are very few classical musicians on Emanate so this is a good time to sign up. If you do, check out the FAQ section of Emanate which has a growing collection of answers to various questions. You can also visit my profile there (emanate.live/vidaspinkevicius), say hello, upload a few tracks and send me the link to listen to.
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Drs. Vidas Pinkevicius and Ausra Motuzaite-Pinkeviciene
Organists of Vilnius University , creators of Secrets of Organ Playing.
Don't have an organ at home?
Download paper manuals and pedals, print them out, cut the white spaces, tape the sheets together and you'll be ready to practice anywhere where is a desk and floor. Make sure you have a higher chair.