Transition Music Corporation | A Musician Reveals Her Finances
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A Musician Reveals Her Finances

A Musician Reveals Her Finances

Zoe Keating, Who Exposed Her Musical Finances, Talks Music Making, Distribution

By Matt Earp
Decemeber 6, 2012
From Create Digital Music

She shocked the music business by revealing she wasn’t making money on Spotify – then shocked them again by revealing she was making money on our own. Now, CDM’s Matt Earp talks to cellist Zoe Keating about surviving as a creative musician, and keeping the music coming. Hint: “exposure” is not necessarily the key to survival. -Ed.

Zoe Keating is an avant-garde cellist, a Canadian transplant to San Francisco who now lives on its far outskirts. Her sound slips back and forth between the classical and electronic worlds, conjuring sylvan images and dusty warehouses with equal clarity. Two self-released full-lengths, a couple dozen collaborations, and a decade of touring into her career, she’s been steadily working her way towards greater recognition throughout the West Coast of America as well as the rest of the world.

Around mid-summer this year, Keating released a public Google Doc that reported her earnings from Spotify – which turned out to be around 3/10th of a cent per listen. (Nice summary article here in The Atlantic). This opened up a can of worms for the streaming content world, and was the first public shot in what has become an increasingly voluble debate about how much musicians earn fromstreaming services. Other bands followed suit with numbers. Pandora countered with numbers of its own. Cartoons on the subject were even made.

To round out the picture, a month later, Keating released ALL the information she had about her music sales from the previous year (2011), causing further attention and stir. And making her a bit of a cause célèbre as an information hactvist in the muddled world of music, income, and the relationship between artists, labels, and digital services of all kinds.

CDM was able to catch up with her at October’s SF Music Tech conference, where she spoke on Artists, Entrepeneurs and Technology (you can catch some of the video of that talk below). She told us about what had happened since she released her sales info to the public, her thoughts on distribution models, and her upcoming album.

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