What does the recent Jay Z and Samsung deal mean for the rock and metal community?
In the immortal words of Dark Helmet from Spaceballs, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.
Jay-Z is one of those artists that wants to be paid RIGHT NOW. He is in the mainstream right now and married to another mainstream personality in Beyoncé. The album is certified platinum before it is even released due to the digital download deal with Samsung. This is where it was made available for free to all Samsung customers via the Jay Z Magna Carta app.
How many of those Samsung customers are actual Jay Z fans? How many of those Samsung customers will go out and spend money on Jay Z? When artists want to be paid right now, there is no connection between artist and fan. It’s all about the dollars. My friend at work is a Samsung customer and he downloaded the album because it is free. In the end, this is all about money and nothing to do about having a career.
That is what the metal heads and rock heads want. A career. It doesn’t have to be a career where the yearly salary is a million dollars. We want just a simple career where we can make between $60 to $80K like all the other occupations, however in this we are doing what we love. We want just enough so that we can compete in the housing market, be considered for loans and so forth. We don’t need to keep up with the Kardashians, the Beyoncé’s and the Jay Z’s.
Once upon a time, it used to be clear to the fans that artists created music and that Record Labels were looking to profit from this relationship with the artists. These days, the new artists are the tech heads. The technologists lead the way by creating and it is the artists that want to profit at every turn from it. The artists are starting to become the businessmen/women of the record label era.
Look at the recent Twitter rant of Thom Yorke from Radiohead. According to the gospel of Yorke, there is no incentive for new artists as they cannot make any money due to Spotify. He more or less claims that no new artists can be discovered via Spotify or make a living from Spotify. Hey Thom, Imagine Dragons is a new artist. Look at their numbers on Spotify. Even though they are not making a living off the royalties from Spotify, this tool has allowed them to spread their music to a world-wide audience, which in turn is seeing their album sales go up. Go figure that. People are purchasing albums, when the songs are available for free.
So what does Thom do? He pulls Atom of Peace and his solo work from Spotify. Maybe that is a good thing, as we don’t have time for sub-standard anymore. Hell, Thom Yorke should even blow up at Napster.
The reason why Napster exploded 13 years ago was because it was all about the community and the convenience. Napster was never about the money and it was never about the ‘free’. The fans of music spoke out loudly on how they wanted to consume their music and how they wanted to interact with it. The power brokers still haven’t listened. Today there is still no service that provided those two things the way Napster did.
Artists wrote songs for a cause or a purpose. There was always a war to fight against someone, either against the establishment, the parents or a real war. The sad reality these days is that more and more artists are thinking about the payment instead of the creative process. It’s tough making a living in the music business. That is the bottom line. Just the same way it is tough making a living in any other business.
I work nine to five and get paid a yearly salary. I am meant to work 38 hours a week, however the company encourages us to spill some blood for them which normally means putting in longer hours just so that we can be considered for a bonus. It is a tough gig, and it is a tough way to make a living as well. The music business is no different. Making money in any occupation is a tough business.