Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Pennies From Heaven – 2019 Year In Review

As an independent musician, you record at home and upload digital files to the cloud, and then when people buy/listen, you can get micro-fractions of pennies that can add up to actual pennies eventually, trickling down like a soft rain over time from the heavenly skies of the world wide web.

When you write songs, record them, and then distribute them to online music stores, there are ways you can check in with some of them to see if any of your music had sales.  Mine did in 2019.  Again, I earned enough to cover the distribution cost, and so theoretically at that point I’m only out my labor cost.  Since it’s a labor of love, it’s all good.

Sales reporting with these stores/services is a little sketchy, but most of the big ones at least paint a positive picture for you, with some even offering stats and demographic data.  In case you were curious, and because I believe in being somewhat transparent about my humble achievements (or lack thereof), I thought I'd share some of the details about what I consider a small but true success in the music industry.  It may be sad or funny, but for those of you who were customers, I sincerely thank you!  Here’s a summary of what happened with my music last year:


Amazon Music

It appears that I sold a whopping 4 total CDs on Amazon.  Guess it’s true that hardly anyone buys CDs anymore.  It may be a bit sad, but if you consider 2019 was not a year in which I offered a new album, it may be seen as a positive.  The good news is there were some royalty payments from Japan’s Amazon store, so that’s cool.  Not sure what was sold or bought exactly, or how the yen transfer from, but there were some micro-transactions of some kind.  I can’t really say I’m big in Japan as I’d like to be able to, but I think I can at least safely say I’m small there now.

CD Baby

The total sales here amounted to around $67, which is probably around 5 CDs, although there’s some digital mixed in, and I’m not quite sure about the accounting breakdown.  The biggest selling album continued to be Lakeside Landing (released in 2004, which has the “hit” Mackinac Island on it), followed by “Missing The Boat,” my 2018 album.



I made the astronomical amount of $0.02 – yes that’s two cents – from Pandora Premium, but I was just recently added in late 2019 to this store/service/radio station or whatever it’s called.  I posted a news story about this here:


Didn’t really know if this service was going to fade away or not, but it didn’t, and people bought my music on here too.  Or at least they listened to it via “radio” streaming, which somehow actually resulted in a few pennies for me.



I uploaded a total of 37 videos and gained 16 subscribers.
My videos had a total of 18 watch hours and 18 likes.
Overall, there were 673 total views.
For me, this was kind of a big deal.  View them all here:

The Big Four Streamers 

YouTube Music

I earned $0.07, seven cents, from this new service, which ain't much, but not bad if you consider this does not include sales from the former Google Play Music, which I had previously directly distributed to.  I can’t say enough good things about this new service though.  It “pulls in” my actual YouTube videos from my official channel, and the service gets you ad-free audio and video for your ten bucks a month.  I highly recommend this as the best way to stream now.  Google really got it right with this one.

Amazon Music Unlimited

I hear these guys will be at the forefront of the hi-res or hi-def audio in the future, so they are one to be on the lookout for.  It’s different than buying my actual CDs on Amazon’s main online store though.  This is an actual streaming service.

This was split into two pools of income called Amazon US Premium and Amazon UK Premium, which I’m happy about.  Being discovered somehow online by people in the United Kingdom is encouraging.  I also got one from Amazon DE, so maybe that’s Denmark or Germany, not sure.
Amazon Prime:
I also had one sale from Amazon Prime IN, which I think means India, not Indonesia or Indiana, so that’s an exotic far-away place that has me excited.  Big and growing online music market over there, so I’ve gathered.  Assuming this was not from the streaming service though.

Apple Music

131 plays
Reached a high of 10 daily plays in Canada!
Other top countries included:
South Africa 5
Germany 3
Russia 2

Top 5 Songs:
  1. Against the Tide
  2. Mackinac Island
  3. In My El Camino
  4. I Did a Bad Thing
  5. Cooley’s Rap

Top Cities:
  1. New York
  2. Toronto
  3. Detroit
  4. Memphis
  5. Grand Rapids


My single “Too Late To Turn Back Now” was submitted to Spotify Editors.
My top 4 biggest streams were:
  1. Mackinac island – 53
  2. I Did A Bad Thing – 34
  3. Puttin’ Up A Pole Barn – 30
  4. Shred Betty – 20

Fastest rate was 14 streams per hour on July 3rd.

Upward trends included the following percentage increases:
^33% playlist adds
^44% followers
^14% total listeners

Total stream time for the year: 12 hours
My music was heard in 43 countries from Argentina to Taiwan
My audience grew 84% in Netherlands!



Apparently, there’s still an iTunes in both Japan and Canada, or at least it did exist in 2019, as I did have some very minor sales in those countries.  There was also one in Mexico which I’m thrilled about, and some place just named “other territories” in addition to Europe.  There’s also a micro-payment from iTunes Match – Americas on there, whatever that is.


Someone bought the entire “Cherchez La Femme” album which was a bit unusual for this service, and a bunch of people bought the single download of “Mackinac Island,” as usual.  My top three free stream plays, however, were as follows:
  1. Coney
  2. Used To Be Good Looking
  3. Watchin’ The World Go By 


Quite a few pennies achieved on this site.  Didn’t know it even existed anymore, let alone actually paid artists, but that’s what happened.


Surprisingly, I made quite a bit of micro-fractions of pennies adding up to a few dollars on this one.


I actually had a few sales, not just plays, but downloads, from Tidal, which paid me a few pennies as well.


I have no idea how the dreaded Facebook sold my music and then paid me a couple pennies for it, but somehow it happened, despite me not ever putting my music on there.

United Media Agency

No idea who these guys are, but they paid me a bunch of times, mostly for less than one penny each time.  OK, just looked them up and they are Russian and own email and social networks there.  UMA, I approve. 

In Conclusion

Overall, not bad (for me)...and not bad for a non-release year.  It's exciting to know that people far from my home base here in Michigan have discovered and purchased my music.  It's also exciting to know the sales have helped offset some of my investment in instruments and recording equipment.  Most of all, it's exciting to know that there is a small and steadily-growing fanbase.  Check in again to learn more about my next album slated for release this coming June.  Thanks again for your support!

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