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Of Vice Quadrant and Streaming Services


Hey all, I’ve gotten a few questions regarding Steam Powered Giraffe’s new album The Vice Quadrant and whether or not it will be coming to Spotify and other streaming services.

I thought I’d make a public post about this for all of you who may be interested…

It’s going to be a long one.

Now before I start I don’t want anyone to think this is a weird awkward ungrateful post or anything. I do want to discuss the issues with streaming services and break it down for you all from the band’s point of view, but in reality the real non-business minded me doesn’t give two shits about this stuff and people can listen to our music however the fudge they want…regardless of if we get paid.
I hate thinking about this crap, but I have to because Steam Powered Giraffe is a business and I do my best with the others to not run it into the ground.

Okay so with that said…here is why streaming services suck..

While all our other releases are on Spotify and other streaming services, we’ve released them on there slowly after their initial release.

The problem with Spotify and streaming services for us and other independent bands is that the income we get from plays on these sites is fractions of a cent per stream.

Now it’s not that income from the per play of a track is low, it’s actually that we can’t compete with more popular music and that hinders pay from these sites.

These sites make a certain amount of income themselves a month based on their total monthly subscription fees and/or advertising revenue from all users. Part of that amount is then divided up and given to artists based on the number of plays they have.

Now we have a super dedicated and loving fan base that is ginormous and generous to us, but it’s minuscule when compared to the super stars of more popular music. All that means is that we will hardly make any money off of streaming services, unless we start getting millions of views a month on these sites, and we are far far away from achieving that. Our percentage is so small because of this.

We love our fan base and we don’t count the days until we are mega popular. We don’t live in that kind of world. We are happy making our art and sharing it with the cozy amount of people who support us. It keeps us making art and pays our bills.

Unfortunately numbers don’t lie, and streaming services have become more and more popular since we started the band almost 8 years ago.

These services are super convenient and people love them, heck I love them!

But they are a terrible source of revenue for independent artists.

It’s like…we have this lemonade stand where we sell you our unique lemonade in cups directly (or through iTunes or Amazon) but then there is this company that also sells lemonade and delivers it directly to your house quicker, faster, and more convenient than any method we could ever come up with.

Their lemonade comes in every flavor imaginable. The company is so popular that everyone uses them to drink lemonade, but the company doesn’t actually make any of the lemonade themselves, they just split up their monthly lemonade subscription money amongst all the lemonade manufacturers that they have lemonade from.

Now we don’t HAVE to make our lemonade available from this company, but everyone on the planet wants us to, because they want to drink our lemonade straight from this convenient service…so we reluctantly say “well it’s better than people who can’t afford our lemonade getting it for free at the pirate company who thinks all lemonade should be free and given away to everyone free with unlimited “samples” of it all….

Okay so maybe that analogy doesn’t really click with the real world…

Music streaming and music purchasing in general is a fairly unique thing in our society…and so are movies, TV shows, and games.

If it’s not something physical or at least food, then to a good amount of people it should be free. Especially since anyone can go out and get it for free without much issue.

Our entire business (Steam Powered Giraffe LLC) is based around people supporting us and them wanting to toss a few bucks our way each year. This is how it is for tons of independent artists.

We don’t like sitting around thinking about ways we can stop people stealing our music or wanting to stream it online…
We don’t expect every single person who likes us on Facebook or YouTube to buy each of our albums…if that were the case and they did, we’d be rich.

We actually like all the convenient ways people can consume music these days and we use all of them ourselves as well.

We simply put our stuff up everywhere we can for consumption and rely on our fans to support us in whatever means they deem fit.

We make it easy too.
We sell popular merchandise items like t-shirts and all that crap that everyone likes. Who doesn’t like t-shirts about one of their favorite things?
We also created the Engineer-eteer Program that offers exclusive behind-the-scenes content and our complete discography for two specific reasons…
1. So people who wanted to support us more than buying our albums and merchandise would have a vehicle for doing that.
2. So people who otherwise wouldn’t ever want to buy each of our albums could get them all digitally for less than $20.

So while we don’t like the impossible battle for meaningful revenue on streaming sites (and there are more and more of them everyday…Apple Music, Google Play, Amazon Prime), we think it’s way better to just offer our stuff on them anyways and hope everyone who uses them, also buys our albums and merchandise.

The only thing we are doing to combat a bit of streaming service stuff is that we will not be releasing The Vice Quadrant initially on Spotify or other streaming services when it releases. It’ll go live on everything everywhere eventually…but we want to encourage the few who wouldn’t buy our new album if it was available on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Prime, or Google Play to go out and buy it.
These sites are not a good source of income for us and if everyone used them exclusively and never bought our albums we would not be in business. Your subscription fee or ad generated revenue for these sites that you pay only sees a very small fraction go to us. It’s not enough to live off monthly for us, even with hundreds of thousands of plays a month.

If wanting to encourage people to buy the album instead of stream it is greedy of us…

Well then to the people who think that, take a look at that sandwich or food item that you buy for $5 every week or so. That item is bought and used up in a few minutes, but our products last and last. Food and entertainment are too different things for sure, but still, for the most part no one bats an eyelash at buying and eating a burger.

At any rate, that’s how we feel about streaming services for those of you who were wondering.
You might have learned a bit about why they suck for independent artists as well now.

But at any rate, support us in whatever way you see is best (or not at all if that’s what you think is best)….even if it’s through streaming services exclusively….because it’s true, even fractions of a penny are better than getting nothing at all.

It’s just that, we aren’t clamoring for extra money to buy a private jet or something… We make less money than the average working adult person and we simply want to make sure we can pay rent and buy food to eat…and buy and play Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain…
I live in a 1 bedroom 1 bath dinky apartment, I don’t have kids or a wife and I don’t have any expensive hobbies. I don’t need much income to get by and I love my current living conditions and I don’t need anything else.

Our job is an artsy one and it’s fantastic to be able to make a living making art and music, but I spend 90% of my time in Steam Powered Giraffe working and doing things in it where I could get paid loads more outside of SPG. It’s more work than any day job I’ve ever had, It’s an entire company ran by a handful of people, and I do the vast majority of the business-side of things….but I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.

It’s all worth it to me and would still be worth it to me even if I wasn’t getting paid for any of it with your album purchases.

But I live in the same world where you need money to buy things to live and enjoy life. So yeah, gunna need people to buy our albums for that to happen. :P

But hey! If Steam Powered Giraffe ever gets to the point where we have enough money to buy a private jet and eat off of gold plated dishware…then feel free to only support us through streaming services…because we will be making bank off of those streaming services if we have that many fans…and THEN you don’t have to feel bad for us one iota. :)

Okay, now that that’s all out of the way… Let’s get back to the artsy creative stuff and all this hype for Vice Quadrant coming out!