My latest album, Algorithm, is out now and available on most streaming and download platforms. Some of you have asked the best way to support me with this album.

Regardless of your preferred platform, listening to the album multiple times and really getting to know the songs is ultimately the greatest reward for me. Music is created to be heard and appreciated.

To economically support me, the short answer is a download from Bandcamp, where you can choose your price and your preferred audio format. It’s the best source of income I receive. I recognise that some Bandcamp downloads are donations of a kind, and for this I am very appreciative.

Are there other ways to support Space March?

Absolutely. You can also support me by recommending the album to a friend you think might like it, sharing the album on social media, signing-up to my newsletter and following Space March on all social media platforms – I need more Instagram followers 🙏

Will Algorithm be released on CD?

Not in 2021, but maybe in 2022, depending on demand and shipping costs.

Selling Space March CDs in recent years has become almost impossible to break even. The demand for CDs drops with each Space March album, and at the same time the unit cost goes up when you manufacture smaller quantities. Since the beginning of COVID, Australia Post has also dramatically increased their postage fees (and delivery times), so much so, that the overseas shipping cost is now $22 – $25 Australian dollars to ship one CD, with the value of the CD only being $15.

The only way I can see to make CDs viable at the moment is to do bundles, so the shipping cost is amortised over multiple CDs. Since most of my fans already own my back catalogue, I would need to have multiple new CDs on offer, although that means greater manufacturing costs.

I would like to release another Space March album in the first half of 2022. So if shipping costs come down next year and there is strong demand for CDs, then I will consider getting CDs manufactured for both albums and selling them as a bundle.

What about Vinyl?

I sometimes get requests to release my albums on Vinyl, which is growing in popularity with certain demographics. Vinyl is really expensive to manufacture, combined with the high cost of shipping from Australia, I fear that it would be another loss if the demand for it was not there. Still, I’m sometimes tempted just for the thrill of having a release on vinyl.

What’s your position on Streaming?

Well, it’s a great convenience and we all use it! In fact, from 2007 – 2010, I was the architect behind a download and streaming platform for Sony Music, which didn’t survive for multiple reasons including the emergence of Spotify.

Today, I use Spotify as my main way of listening to other people’s music. They get a lot of things right and I enjoy using it. However, because of my background in this area, I have a few frustrations with the design of the platform, particularly in relation to how music and artists are related to each other and suggested to listeners. I think it’s quite ineffectual at helping people find new music, instead, it reinforces inaccurate silos, and just gives people more of the same – like most algorithms do. I also think their method of royalty calculation is quite unfair for independent and niche artists.

How much do you get paid when I stream Space March?

Most people know that streaming platforms pay very low rates per stream. For my music it ranges from 0.2 – 0.6 cent (USD) per stream on Spotify. That is, I need between 2 – 5 streams to earn a cent. Royalties are more generous on Apple Music, typically around 0.5 – 1 cent per stream.

How are Streaming Royalties calculated?

When you play a song on Spotify or Apple Music, your common sense would tell you that the artist whose music you are playing would receive direct compensation for that play – that part of your monthly subscription would be paid to the artist. Well, your common sense is wrong – that’s not how it actually works. Think of Spotify/Apple Music like a club and your subscription fee is paid to the club. Spotify then rank every artist from most popular to least popular and divide up the royalties accordingly. What’s wrong with that? A lot! It greatly favours the most successful artists. For example, if you are someone with non-mainstream tastes who primarily listens to niche genres like synthpop, or independent music, you’ll probably find it quite shocking that a large chunk of your monthly Spotify subscription will be paid to Justin Bieber, Drake, Ed Sheeran and all those other Top 40 artists whose music you hate and have never played.

Why is it done this way? From Spotify/Apple’s perspective the current method of royalty calculation is much easier for them to do – why would they want to invest in building a complex but fairer user-centric method of royalty calculation when no one really understands this stuff, anyway? Second, it is quite advantageous for major labels, who have considerable leverage over the streaming platforms. The major labels are now doing very well, unlike the 90s and 00s when I worked for them. The CEO of Universal Music Group is about to be paid a $150 million bonus after the company’s successful stock market float earlier this week.

How can Streaming Royalties be fairer?

What Spotify/Apple ethically needs to do is to commit to a user-centric method of royalty calculation whereby your subscription fee is only divided-up amongst the music you have streamed. This will be much better and fairer for independent and niche genre artists, such as Space March. I don’t accept the excuse that it’s too hard for them to implement – I mean they’re tracking activity and personalizing content at a user-centric level.

Deezer already employ a user-centric model of royalty calculation, and SoundCloud have recently announced they will be doing the same – except that you need to be on a paid artist plan and have a minimum level of streams per month, otherwise you don’t get paid at all (that’s me).

An industry shift to user-centric royalty payments will probably increase streaming payments for indie synthpop artists up to 30%.

The upshot

Ultimately, you should stream my music on the platform you like using, whether that be Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, Deezer, Tidal… I don’t really care. In fact, I like to have listeners across all platforms. The issues mentioned above are really for the industry to sort out.

For those who like to download, I think Bandcamp is the best for both you (with your choice of formats including lossless) and me receiving direct payment. Remember, a one track download is equivalent to around 1000 streams on Spotify.

It might continue to be a bleak economic outlook for Space March, but that hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm to write and record new music. In fact, I’m more motivated than I’ve ever been! I’ve reached the stage in my career as a musician where I’m happy doing what I’m doing and make no apologies for my choices.

That said, when you release an album, you inevitably get some really nice feedback from the people who love the album, silence from those who are indifferent or quietly hate it, and some overly harsh criticism/condescension, particularly from the media gatekeepers justifying their position to reject it. So I hope this time next week I’m not singing that Pet Shop Boys song “Yesterday when I was mad and quite prepared to give up everything…” 🤪

Craig // Space March