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Gary Numan Says He Earned Only $50 for One Million Streams

Electronic music pioneer adds he once got a streaming statement that "was barely worth the [paper] it was printed on"

gary numan $50 streaming payment million songs
Gary Numan, photo by Heather Kaplan
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    Gray Numan is probably hoping his fans find a way to listen to his upcoming album, Intruder, in some way other than streaming. The new wave rocker told Sky News that he earned just £37 (about $50) for a song that was streamed over a million times. What’s worse, he once got a streaming statement that “was barely worth the [paper] it was printed on.”

    “The solution’s simple,” Numan said. “The streaming companies should pay more money. They’re getting it for nothing.”

    His remarks came as the United Kingdom’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee heard evidence from the Big Three record labels (Universal, Sony, and Warner Music Group) during the third inquiry into the the business models of major platforms and the economics of streaming in general. Musicians like Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien and Elbow’s Guy Garvey spoke before Members of Parliament during an earlier inquiry late last year, while others like Jimmy Page have been urging streamers to pay artists better rates.

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    Numan hasn’t personally been a part of any of the hearings, but he’s clearly on the side of his fellow musicians. “I had a statement a while back and one of my songs had had over a million plays, million streams, and it was £37,” he said. “I got £37 from a million streams.”

    “I printed out, I think it was about a year ago, a statement — my streaming statement came in and I didn’t look at it, I just put it to print, and I looked over about half an hour later, it was still printing,” he explained. “It was hundreds and hundreds of pages. And the end of it was, like, £112 [$153]. It was barely worth the [paper] it was printed on, and it took nearly half an hour to print. You know, it’s so much stuff, so much streaming, and there’s absolutely nothing in it.”

    A recent survey by the UK’s The Ivors Academy and the Musicians’ Union found there is indeed “absolutely nothing in it,” as 82% of artists earned only £200 (around $270) from streaming revenue in 2019. “If you’re really at the top, then you can earn pretty well from streaming,” Numan added, echoing the IA and MU’s report. “If you’re not, you might as well forget it, it isn’t even worth printing it out, printing out the statement.”

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    Numan’s Intruder, previewed last week with the title track, is due out May 21st. Might we suggest pre-ordering it direct from his website?

    Editor’s Note: Join Consequence of Sound in the fight to protect live music by picking up one of our new Protect Live Music original shirts. A portion of all proceeds go towards independent music venues in their recovery efforts.

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