Nadine Shah on “paltry” streaming revenue for musicians: “I temporarily had to move back in with my parents”

The musician couldn't make rent once COVID-19 cut her touring income

Nadine Shah has criticised streaming services for lining the pockets of “superstars and super record labels” while smaller acts are left to rely more on income from live shows.

The musician has written an article in which she expressed dismay at music streaming business models, specifically how “market share” favours the world’s biggest acts.

In a piece for The Guardian published earlier this week (December 2) the Mercury Music Prize-nominated singer stressed that the coronavirus pandemic, which has caused a near-total shutdown of the live music industry worldwide, has left artists such as herself without a stable income.


“The pandemic obliterated festivals and gigs, meaning we were forced to survive on streaming income alone,” Shah wrote. “As a cocky northern lass, I thought I’d be OK: ‘C’mon Nadine, you’ll be all right, you’ve been nominated for a bloody Mercury prize, you’ve over 100,000 monthly Spotify listeners. You’ll make the rent.'”

She continued: “I was foolish. The situation was such that I temporarily had to move back in with my parents over the summer. Not the worst thing to happen, but still not a great look for a thirtysomething pop star. Like most of my musician friends who rely on gigs, I found myself in dire straits. (If only I actually were in Dire Straits.)”

Nadine Shah

Later in the article, Shah said that she gave evidence at a Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) inquiry. She joined Elbow‘s Guy Garvey, Radiohead‘s Ed O’Brien and Gomez‘s Tom Gray to suggest improvements in how the streaming economy pays.

She wrote: “One much-debated remedy the committee of MPs seemed interested in is changing the way the streaming economy pays. Making it ‘user-centric’ rather than based on market share. So, if you listen to jazz, your money would go to the people who create, produce and distribute jazz music. Sounds fair?”


In other news, earlier this month Shah released the dark new music video for her song, ‘Trad’. The single is taken from her latest album, ‘Kitchen Sink‘.