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Updated: Apr 28


Before you get your calculator out - read the article below about 'Chocolate Music'!

As I attempt a diet again which includes a no-chocolate policy, I am reminded of a conversation I had with one of my beautiful god-daughters. She had asked me how iTunes and digital music platforms worked. And my answer involved comparing chocolate to music.


CHOCOLATE DIGITAL MUSIC: Warning - it contains ethical toxins!

In this article, you'll learn why musical artists can't even afford a chocolate bar thanks to digital music streaming and how we at The Silk Rags Project are pulling OUT of streaming because it dramatically affects our donation of 38% of our proceeds to Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

"IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS": Well, only a few years actually....

It’s important to remember that when Digital Music replaced LP's, Cassettes and CD's some years ago (prior to music streaming), if you wanted to purchase songs legally, you basically had iTunes or Amazon to choose from. Back then, in order to get my music onto these legal platforms, I went through a digital distributor and paid an annual fee of $100.

Every time someone bought a track for $1.69, I’d get a profit of about $1. Likewise, should someone buy pay $15 for the album, I’d receive about $9.

However, the money wouldn’t be paid directly to me. Instead it would be placed into my digital distribution company’s account and stay there until I reached the $100 annual fee. Only then would I effectively get paid!

It's fascinating that generally, people assume that once you are on iTunes etc. that you must be raking in the money. I received some great advice from my original digital distributor who pointed out that "iTunes was like a major city, where every building, room and square inch was a different song. When a buyer enters that city, he or she needs clear directions".

In other words, if you didn’t have stacks of money to market yourself on the front web pages of iTunes and other digital platforms, you really do have to rely on your loyal fans to ‘search’ for your music, PAY for it and download.

So, you will have noticed that I screamed out the word PAY! Once your music is on the net, there are some naughty people who give it away for free. They call themselves ‘entrepreneurs’ but we hard working musicians call them something less graceful.

With just a google search recently, I found my music still available for free downloads and if you really want it, they’ve turned it into ringtones for your mobile phone. Now, when I donate a 38% of proceeds to Australian Cancer Research Foundation, this whole ‘free music for all’ stuff really annoys me.

"CH, CH, CH ….CHANGES…": Music Streaming Platforms

But digital streaming platforms soon came along. A customer can subscribe (and pay) for a membership with lots of them – Apple Music, Spotify, Tidal, Amazon Music, Deezer to name a few. There you have millions of songs and artists to choose from and it’s a fantastic service to have at your fingertips, plus free up space on your shelves from ‘old LP’s and CD’s’.

Streaming music services have changed the way that we listen to and consume music. But nowadays, how do digital streaming platforms allegedly “PAY” artists.

Here’s how it works.

Once again, an artist PAYS a digital distributor to put their music up on Spotify, ITunes, etc platforms. This will cost a one off payment (let’s say $100) for a 10 track album.

If a customer is NOT a member of a streaming service and wants to BUY, DOWNLOAD and OWN a full digital album of 10 tracks for $15 from iTunes - the artist gets $5.70. Considering my $100 fee to get it on there in the first place, it would therefore take 18 purchase downloads before I make one cent.

If a streaming purchaser - someone who pays a monthly subscription for Spotify, Apple Music etc. - plays the entire album, I receive $0.03 ($0.003 per track). IT WOULD TAKE 33,333 STREAMS BEFORE I MAKE ONE CENT. However, at least nowadays, I don’t have to pay the $100 joining fee each year. It’s now a one off payment.

There are some break-out digital musical platforms that are focussing on giving back to artists. BandCamp is pretty good at this. When a fan buys something on Bandcamp, an average of 82% of the money goes to the artist.


Well, whilst telling my goddaughter about all this, she confessed to me that she had visited the odd dodgy site and downloaded free music (“but not yours Dee ….”).

So I went and bought her a bar of chocolate costing about $3. And I gave her the type of expert advice and wisdom that only a godmother can give.

  • You see, when you eat a bar of chocolate, it is lovingly savoured but the experience is over fairly quickly. Once digested, it’s gone. You gain weight. If you want more, you buy more.

  • Whereas, you can buy 2 tracks from iTunes etc. for the same amount of money, store it on a cloud and variety of devices, play it again and again for eternity and it nurtures your soul not your waistline.

YOU CAN BUY OUR SOUNDTRACK DIGITALLY OR ON CD: But we're pulling it off streaming platforms.

We're committed to donate 38% of our proceeds from all products of The Silk Rags Project to Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

If we continue with the top streaming platforms, we'd receive $0.003 each time a song is streamed. That means that we'd be donating $0.00114 to the charity each time. It's simply not worth it and it's not fair.

Our soundtrack is available by CD or digital download card and the cost is incorporated in the Kit Packages on our website. But for the record, if we were to sell the soundtrack separately, it would cost $25. So the answer to the original question is that you could purchase 8,333 bars of chocolate for $25 but you'd get really fat.

However, we've teamed up with Replicat in Melbourne who designed and produced a digital download card of our soundtrack along with a custom shape pin. A customer receives an individual code and simply inputs that into where they can download the soundtrack on all of their devices. It means that we'll be donating approximately $10 to Australian Cancer Research Foundation.

Our digital download card is linked to Bandcamp. If, in the future we decide to load the album up to a streaming platform, it will be Bandcamp.

You are purchasing our passion and time and dedication to create, record and mix our music. After all, you wouldn’t walk into a shop and steal a bar of chocolate now - would you?

The Silk Rags Project provides you with an educational reading and listening experience so that you are able to personally help your friend who receives a cancer diagnosis. You'll laugh, cry and learn.

Plus, we donate a massive 38% of our proceeds to them on every sale. This means for every $50 spent with us - we will donate $19.03 directly to cancer research. Knowledge lasts much longer than a chocolate bar. Check us out and share this blog with others who may be interested in how digital platforms pay their artists.

*Disclaimer: Digital music platforms are a moveable feast and so this blog may well be a little out of date.

And do feel free to leave a comment below. Has this article made you think differently about how to support small independent musical artists?

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