Copyright, Music, My Stories, Stupidity

How Long Until The Streaming Well Goes Dry?

“Musicians can go out and play to fill the gaping hole that the lack of record sales has created, but streaming has actually become the saving grace for record companies. But it really is to the point of such diminishing returns for musicians that I have no words to describe it. I would turn around and say, “Okay, let’s make this work,” but now I’m hearing that new contracts that are sent out from friends of mine who are lawyers, that record companies now want to pass on paying even streaming royalties because they consider streaming “promotion.” That is beyond a grey area.”
David Coverdale

Streaming and Spotify is the best thing to ever happen the music industry. It competed with piracy and more or less won the battle. It’s subscriber base is growing and people are moving from freemium to the pay model. Adele’s record label is withholding her album from streaming services, however Pandora is streaming it, because as it happens, Pandora is a radio station.

But it is a long game. As Coverdale alludes too, the record labels want to wither away the streaming money tree as well, claiming all of the licensing fees and royalty payments for themselves. All of those writers and musicians complaining about Spotify or another streaming service, need to complain about their labels and publishers.

Because the people who used to control music, have a short-term mindset. And it all comes down to money. Streaming service Rdio is gone, claiming bankruptcy. It didn’t have the user base to support the licensing fees it needed to pay. Pandora purchased it’s assets, however Pandora has its own problems with court cases (financed by the Record labels and the Publishers) around pre 72 recordings and royalty payments on those recordings and others. And it’s a battle for which service will win the streaming wars, as to the victor, 70% market share awaits them. Like how Facebook and Apple won the social media and phone wars.

The reason why the record labels are so powerful is because they have locked up culture and copyrights for a very long time. As I have posted before, “Smoke On The Water”, a song written in 1971, will still be under copyright once we enter the 2100’s. The writers/creators will have passed a long time before that, and there is a good chance that any heirs of theirs will also have moved on to the afterlife. But the main beneficiary in this copyright hijack, is the corporation.

So what we have in the music industry are Record Label Executives that contribute nothing to music, living it up, flying private, because they satisfy Wall Street and via their lobby group, the “RIAA”, fight to get laws approved to protect their business models.

“The old copyright model – the person who creates something owns it and anyone else that wants to use it or see it has to pay them – has expired in the same way that around the world you’re seeing structures and social norms [lapse] that were standard for many years. The old copyright model has expired. It can no longer exclusively control music.”
Steve Albini

The old copyright model only benefits the labels in this day and age, so it’s no surprise that they are fighting hard to get even longer copyright terms. It’s a monopoly they don’t want to lose, even at the expense of the public domain, because the public domain is how more works are generated.

The power to make change lies with the musicians.

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