A to Z of Making It, Music, My Stories

The Death Of The Traditional Charts

The “traditional” single release used to get marketed and promoted for months. It would then get radio airplay and with all of the hype that goes with each single release, the record label and the artist would hope that the single would sell.

After the single does its run it would be removed from sale. During this period thousands or maybe millions of people would have purchased the single. They would hand over their money at the store and then take it home and play it as many times as they liked. The actual sale of the single was counted by the charts but all of those plays at home didn’t count for nothing.

Until now.

One sale is just one count towards the artist.

But now with streaming, a song/single can continue to have traction for months, years or decades. And there is the paradigm shift right there.

Albums were designed to have a longer shelf life. Singles were designed to have a short shelf life. Now with streaming, the border lines between singles and albums have dissolved. But the record labels and artists still insist on spending three to nine months recording albums. That was fine once upon a time, when albums did have a longer shelf life due to gated releases, but in 2014, albums have a shorter shelf life. Release frequently is the norm today, but nearly every established artists refuses to do it.

An artist will continue to earn a streaming income on a recording for years from their fans, whereas that fan would in the past have only paid once. Actually, if the artist gave their rights away to the record label for an advance payment, then it would be the record label that will continue to earn a streaming income on behalf of the artist.

Artists need to negotiate better. Sell your rights away for an advance payment, however have a clause in there that stipulates that if a song reaches a certain target, then a different rate of payment kicks in or the advance needs to be topped up. Because at the beginning no one knows how big or how low the actual song could go.

Going back to the new charts.

I am expecting the best to rise up again, the classic songs that we have known. Don’t be surprised if AC/DC and Metallica make a comeback to the charts. Journey will be there with “Don’t Stop Believin’ and Bon Jovi will be there as well. Old recordings will reappear. I have no doubt about that.

But with any technological product, it is open for misuse and I am sure that streaming services could skew the results based on their corporate deals with TV Shows and Record Labels.

But in the end it is a change and a big one.

Are the Heavy Metal artists and their fans ready?

This is their chance to bring Metal and Rock music back to the masses because the power of the radio and the labels is diminishing in this area for now.

The power is in the hands and ears of the individual streamer. The fans of the artist have the potential to control the musical career of their favourite artists. As an artist this is a good thing.

And business models around streaming and ownership of music will continue to grow.

“We can say with a high level of confidence that it no longer matters how many albums an artist has sold. All that matters now is how many listeners that artist can convert into owners.”

The words above are from the Arena CEO.

Who is Arena you ask?

Arena is another player on the scene and their business model is very different. Once a listener streams a participating single song 5 times, Arena then gives the listener the MP3 file to download and own. Arena then will pay the artist $0.85, in addition to the $0.21 for the 5 streams, as if the listener had purchased the song to own directly. This is a combination of streaming and ownership, because if peer-to-peer downloading has taught us one thing, it is that fans of music still want to own and they want to own music for free.

What Arena is paying is well above the industry standard rates from Pandora, Spotify, Beats Music, and YouTube. To top it all off there is no monthly subscription. If Arena will take off, or if it will get swallowed by Spotify is a different matter. What is clear is that it is addressing a gap in the record label business model that is still unaddressed.

And that is peer-to-peer downloads of mp3’s. And how these five streams = 1 download will count on a chart is another matter in its entirety and it further highlights how out of date the current charts are.

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