Gary Numan Explains How He Earned Just $65 from a Million Streams

"The solution's simple. The streaming companies should pay more money. They're getting it for nothing."

BY Brock ThiessenPublished Jan 19, 2021

As artists have repeatedly explained, the economics of music streaming are more than a little broken. Adding to that ever-growing list is now Gary Numan, who's explained that he got only £37 after one of his songs was streamed a million times. That's roughly $65 Canadian for million streams.

Numan's comments come as the three major record labels — Universal, Sony and Warner — provided evidence today in an inquiry by the UK's Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, which is examining the business practices of streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and Google Play.

Speaking to Sky News, Numan said, "The solution's simple. The streaming companies should pay more money. They're getting it for nothing."

He added: "I had a statement a while back and one of my songs had had over a million plays, million streams, and it was £37. I got £37 from a million streams."

Already during the inquiry, artists such as Radiohead's Ed O'Brien, Elbow's Guy Garvey and Nadine Shah shared similar sentiments about how streaming services are unfairly treating artists.

And while Numan did not directly testify during the inquiry, he went on to tell Sky News the following:

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.

It was hundreds and hundreds of pages. And the end of it was, like, £112. 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.

As Sky News points out, streaming currently accounts for more than half of the global music industry's revenue, bringing in more than £1 billion last year to the UK alone. However, artists only see 16 percent of the total income generated by streams, while record labels get about 41 percent and the streaming services themselves about 29 percent, according to the Broken Record campaign.

"If you're really at the top, then you can earn pretty well from streaming," he said. "If you're not, you might as well forget it, it isn't even worth printing it out, printing out the statement."

As previously reported, Numan's 18th studio album Intruder is due out May 21. He's also set to appear on the tribute comp The Problem of Leisure: A Celebration of Andy Gill and Gang of Four.

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