You are here: Home / How much do musicians earn online and what support does give to Iranian bands?

How much do musicians earn online and what support does give to Iranian bands?

Submitted by Ferri Tafreshi on Tue, 04/20/2010 - 06:56.

"...need to sell 1500 plays on to match the income of one (1) CD sold through Zirzamin..."

By: Ferri Tafreshi

April 2010


Everybody knows that the time when musicians earned the big money is gone. This does not sound encouraging to the young and talented who wants to pursue a career in music. But how much do musicians really earn online?

During the past few years we have started seeing that the governments who have lost huge amount of tax payer’s money due to piracy are finally waking up. They have started realizing that music was a source of income which has faded away. Just recently, the UK government passed The Digital Economy Act1 which included a lot of measures and rules to fight online music piracy. It is very worthy to mention that the Queen of England on 18 November 2009 addressed the Bill before the Parliament. In her speech she said: "My Government will introduce a Bill to ensure communications infrastructure that is fit for the digital age, supports future economic growth, delivers competitive communications and enhances public service broadcasting.”

PPL2 states that the creative economy accounts for around 8% of Britain's GDP and continues to grow in significance as all sectors go digital.  The Act tackles online piracy via a two-stage process.  Firstly consumers will be educated about copyright online and legal action will be made more effective.  Secondly there are reserve powers to introduce technical measures such as disconnection. In addition Internet service providers will be required to monitor their customers' use of their networks and report any suspicious activity. The Act also includes powers to tackle other forms of online piracy, beyond person to person (aka p2p) filesharing, writes PPL. This is of course great news for musicians whose works are freely distributed online without paying any respect to their work and Copyright.

Now let’s focus on the main question. How much do musicians actually earn online? We will address the second part of our original question at the end. To answer this question, we will introduce the different online channels and how much a musician would earn should they release an album3. The table below lists a number of services and the amount an artist would get using the respective service:

Form of release CD Price Record Label Artist
Self-release $9.99 $0 $8 $9.99 -$X4 $7.5+$X5
CDBaby $9.99 $0 $7.5
Retail $9.99 $2 $1 or $0.36
iTunes $9.99 $0 $0.94
CDBaby MP3 Download $9.99 $0 $0.74
CDBaby MP3 Download via iTunes $9.99 $0 $0.57
Amazon/iTunes $9.99 $0.63 $0.09
Rapsody7 $9.99 $0.0091 $0.0022
Last.fm8 $9.99 $0.00015 $0.005
Spotify $9.99 $0.0017 $0.00043

After having this picture clear one could easily state that the new services (e.g. are taking advantage of their platform while musicians do not get much of the pie. But for a musician who cannot reach out to the masses, options such as Rapsody or Spotify are attractive. They would at least have the chance to be heard.

Based on the table above, it is also very clear that using a platform like is the most financially sound approach of introducing an album for an artist on the path to grow. One would need to sell 1500 plays on to cover the income of one (1) CD sold through Zirzamin. The same figure on Spotify would be 17441 plays. There is another side to the story as well. And that is a platform such as or Spotify has a larger user base than Zirzamin. But they are not focused on the Iranian crowd in the same way as Zirzamin is. Of course well established bands such as KIOSK, Abjeez or Namjoo do not need such a platform as they are already having their base to certain degree.

Now let’s address the second part of the question. What can Zirzamin do for the artists? Zirzamin is not only financially helping the artists to release their work by paying some of the services related to release of an album but also promotes their album through interviews, reviews, newsletters and promotions through its collaborations with other sites such Music360. Many of the artist PR companies charge the artist for a newsletter or press release. Or even newsletter distribution. Also by being an officially registered non-profit organization, Zirzamin has the power to represent the artists from a legal perspective and defend their copyright should this be needed. Finally it is worth mentioning that Zirzamin currently is in discussions with several of artists to sponsor their albums.



3 Source:,  Digital Audio Insider,,,

4 is a record label which does not charge the Iranian artist but covers a number of costs for them such as album release, CD production, newsletter distribution, and postal.

5 pays portions of the expenses that an artist or band would need to cover.

6 Depending on the loyalty

7 Charging $10/month

8 The most difficult plan to understand