The End of the Ocean finds new success with online streaming


The End of the Ocean, photo by Levi Marshall

The debate between musicians and the streaming service Spotify has intensified in recent weeks.

Taylor Swift, whose latest full-length 1989 has already topped more than 2 million copies sold, pulled her entire back catalog from the digital service earlier this month, citing streaming's effect on overall album sales.

"I think there should be an inherent value placed on art. I didn't see that happening, perception-wise, when I put my music on Spotify," she told Time. "Everybody's complaining about how music sales are shrinking, but nobody's changing the way they're doing things. They keep running towards streaming, which is, for the most part, what has been shrinking the numbers of paid album sales."

According to Spotify, the company offers musicians $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream, generating $500 million in revenue in 2013. Using these figures, Time estimated Swift's latest single, "Shake It Off," which was streamed 46.3 million times before being pulled from the service, earned the 24-year-old pop star somewhere between $280,000 and $390,000 for October alone.

Following Swift's lead, label mates Brantley Gilbert and Justin Moore removed their latest records from the service.

While a handful of music's bigger names have started to flee Spotify, joining longtime digital holdouts like Garth Brooks, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, the service has benefitted some lesser-known acts, including Columbus expats the End of the Ocean.

Recently, the instrumental post-rock band, which wrestled with the idea of calling it quits following a disastrous 2013 tour - "There was a point … where it was like, '[The band] has been awesome, and way bigger than we thought it would be, but where's the line?' When does it become like, 'Ok, this is hurting us?'" bassist Bryan Yost said in a July interview - reached 2 million streams of its song "Worth Everything Ever Wished For" after being added to two of Spotify's curated playlists (Deep Focus and An Instrumental Sunday, respectively) in June. Prior to the service featuring the song, it had only received about 10,000 streams, according to Yost.

In the months since, the band has nearly doubled its number of Spotify followers (going from 1,611 to 2,432), and gained 1,000-plus Facebook likes - the same number it added over the entire previous year.

The End of the Ocean has also started to see a sharp increase in payouts from the online service. The band received its first payment in September (Yost noted in an email that there's a three-month processing delay in Spotify payouts), and has averaged a little over $1,000 per month since - a figure the bassist expects to rise slightly with its next payment. Using Spotify's projected payout of $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream, the two million plays of "Worth Everything Ever Wished For" could generate somewhere in the neighborhood of $12,000 to $16,800 for the group, though there are so many complexities to the formula that a precise number is difficult to pin down.

The success of the song, which the End of the Ocean recorded for its 2011 album Pacific/Atlantic and never intended to play live ("Obviously that's going to change … haha," Yost wrote), has already altered the band's plans for 2015. It recently teamed with a new booking agency, Sweet Love Touring, and has begun formulating plans for a late spring/early summer tour.

"It kind of feels like a whirlwind right now trying to keep up with everything," Yost wrote. "So yeah, it looks like we'll be back at it pretty heavy next year."