It’s the same old debate. An artist puts their “heart and soul” or their “blood, sweat and tears” into a body of work only to see it end up on p2p sites, on YouTube unlicensed or just plainly ignored.
First thing first.
No artist is guaranteed to make any money from recorded music. This was the rule of thumb 50 years ago and it still is now. Once upon a time the record labels invested in an artist only after the artist invested in themselves and got a decent following/buzz happening. Today, the artists are investing in themselves and the record labels are sitting in the wings, watching and waiting for what they think is the sure bet.
So what you have is a lot of artists on independent labels or their own labels self-funding their recordings and press, without recognition. And they don’t like it. The thought that maybe they are just not good enough doesn’t even come into their thought process. Sort of like the stars of the past complaining that piracy killed the recording business. My answer to all of that was, no, piracy didn’t kill the recording business. The recording business like all great empires committed its own downfall. Since the price offered by record labels didn’t correspond with the value that consumers have for the music, the record labels were seen as an irrelevant part of the music industry. The adoption of the Internet and newer technologies lowered the value of music and consumers were willing to pay even less for music or in a lot of cases nothing at all.
Which leads me to Spotify.
On the one hand, we have Spotify users who are happy with the service and on the other hand we have content creators who are complaining about it.
And the story that has been doing the rounds for a while is that Spotify rips off artists.
NO, P2P rips off artists.
Take away Spotify or YouTube and then what does the artist have?
If they think that sales of recorded music would start to happen again, then they are mistaken. Napster got shut down and sales of recorded music still continued to decline. Spotify by the way pays more to the artist than YouTube does however it’s funny how people trump up high YouTube counts as a marketing coup, while a high Spotify stream count is seen as “I had a billion plays on Spotify and I only made X amount of dollars”.
Spotify pays, while P2P does not pay at all.
Sure, sales still continue, but for how long. Each year the sale numbers show a decline. Each year the numbers show an increase in streaming revenue. MP3 sellers are dying. In Australia, BigPond music is gone and iTunes is bleeding around the world. In some European markets, monies earned from streaming have overtaken monies earned from mp3 sales.
And yes the labels in the U.S do own a share of Spotify, however that income comes from the 30% that Spotify keeps from the artist royalty payments. It’s not a bad deal at all if you are a record label. They get a percentage cut of the 30% cut that Spotify gets and when Spotify pays them the other 70% as royalty payments, it looks like they more or less keep that as well. All this power that the record labels have amassed is due to the artists. The artists created the works and sold their copyrights for next to nothing, because at the time they sign a contract, no one has any idea how big a song could be. The great rip off record label freight train just keeps on rolling on.
The truth is all artists need to be informed. Don’t take the spoon fed information as gospel. Do your own research. You’re responsible for educating yourself, all the info is online. There is no excuses these days.
And if you put the content behind a paywall, well just look at the newspapers to see how that turned out.
Streaming is here to stay.
Revenues will go up if the pot is increased however every artist needs to be aware that the barrier to entry is so low that artists today are competing with many more competitors plus they are also competing with the complete history of recorded music.
And we the fans are overwhelmed that we do the only thing we know, which is tune out and listen to the classics that we grew up with.