Prince didn't like streaming, but it could be a big boost to his estate anyway

Prince didn't like streaming, but it could be a big boost to his estate anyway
Prince didn't like streaming, but it could be a big boost to his estate anyway


Explaining that payouts vary, Ramseyer said that his group has "never been given an explanation of price breakdowns, but I believe they are affected by how long the song is actually played or completed." While that amount may seem insignificant, Ramseyer disagreed, citing the changed nature of the industry.

"For small, independent bands, this amount can outperform CD and vinyl sales, since streaming music has become an easy format and there isn't material cost," he said.

Yet for a marquee artist — especially an established one whose audience rediscovers them after death — those figures can be significantly higher.

Several songs from Prince's breakout hit "Purple Rain" — which is certified multiplatinum by the Recording Industry Association of America — immediately surged to the top of Spotify's "Viral 50" charts in the days following his return to streaming. The album was also the most streamed Prince album in the days following its reappearance on streaming platforms, BuzzAngle data showed.

"An artist can net around $70,000 per 10,000,000 streams on Spotify," said Christian Barker, a Nashville-based entertainment attorney who specializes in musician royalties. He told CNBC that streaming is immensely profitable for pop artists.

"Michael Jackson has netted between $5 million and $10 million annually in streaming revenue alone since his death," he said.

Some have argued that, by making his music available digitally, Prince's wishes have been dishonored. However, Barker said that streaming may help his estate gird itself financially, being that he died without a will.

"At this point in time, the best way to preserve those assets and therefore prolong the charitable impact of the estate, is to monetize the estate in any and all possible ways," he said.

One of those ways include a resurgence in old album sales, as well as bringing daylight to a hidden cache of music.

A reissue of Prince's 1984 album "Purple Rain" is due in June, along with some previously unreleased music. Mara Schwartz Kuge, president and founder of Superior Music Publishing in Los Angeles, said that there is likely to be a large receptive audience for it.

"Prince is still a tremendously popular artist, even with younger audiences," Kuge said. "He was actively touring until literally the week he died, and his songs have held up brilliantly."

CNBC

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