The economics of connecting fans with “noncommercial” music can be somewhat of a challenge, but not an insurmountable one. Right now, I’m paying about $500 a year for web services, online distribution, and other expenses. That should keep the lights on – which is amazing and makes me glad to live in an era when starting a label doesn’t mean shelling out a fortune to press a bunch of records, tapes, and CDs that I’d need to store and, with any luck, ship.
Even so, there are limits to what that $500 gets. Honestly, I wish Hungry Hour could put out some vinyl; it’s one of those “stretch” goals for the long term. Also, I’m limited to signing a total of five artists at the moment; to add more artists and make them available through mainstream music outlets like iTunes and Spotfiy, I’d need to pay more money.
I also wish I could offer artists who work with Hungry Hour at least a modest advance on sales, but I’m not in a position to do that at the moment. What I can offer is a fair deal: 80% of any money their music generates goes to the artists, and they can leave the label at any time, especially if someone offers them a more lucrative deal. Really, I want what’s best for the artists, and the 20% I keep goes toward defraying costs.
As for the nuts-and-bolts of the money situation, here’s how it pans out. Whenever someone buys a track on iTunes for $1.00, iTunes keeps $0.30 and pays $0.70. Then I take my 20% of that $0.70 and pass the rest on to the artist. In other words, I get $0.14, and the artist gets $0.56. If you really want to support an artist on this label, buying tracks and albums on iTunes is the best way to go.
Of course, there’s also streaming. There’s no set amount when it comes to how much an artist gets per stream; it depends on which streaming service the listener uses. For example, Spotify pays $0.002815 per play in the United States (and slightly more or less in other countries), while YouTube pays $0.002435. Not a huge difference—a microscopic one, actually—but a difference nonetheless.
Complicating matters is the fact that these amounts sometimes fluctuate, and I haven’t been able to figure out why. And, of course, I’m taking my 20%, which comes to about $0.0000974 per play (again, depending on the streaming service), which leaves the artist with a paltry $0.0023376 each time you stream a song.
To put it another way, you’d need to stream a song about 240 times before your favorite Hungry Hour artist saw the same amount of money that selling the track on iTunes would generate. So, again, if you really want to support an artist on this label, buy their music on iTunes rather than (or in addition to) streaming it. Or, if you want to be really generous, leave the artist a tip in our online tip jar.
So why do I submit music to streaming services if they don’t generate any money? The answer has everything to do with what I was saying on the Hungry Hour “Philosophy” page: I’m not in it for the money. I’m in it to connect listeners with music they might not otherwise hear.
Looking over my data from Spotify, I can see that listeners in Hong Kong, New Zealand, Germany, Belgium, and Great Britain have listened to our music – and the more something like that happens, the more likely the music is to reach its intended target, that one person or handful of people the song will resonate with.
Clearly, I am not a businessman. But I am someone who believes in the power of art to touch people’s hearts and change their lives. If you feel the same way, give some of our tracks a listen and please share them with anyone you think might enjoy them. And, if you’re so inclined, support the artists you like by buying their music.
Thank you for your consideration!