Music and Royalties: We Are Starving Ourselves (Part 4 of 4)

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Clearly, the music business is far from perfect and has weathered some dramatic issues in recent history. However, music still maintains an important role in life, culture and entertainment. Some music lovers are beginning to realize the shift from music ownership to music accessibility changes their experience with both the artists and art itself. For example, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal asks readers to question the fundamentals of their music streaming experiences. “Music is supposed to endure…It is possible to form a relationship with an album or artist on a streaming service – but you may have a hard time finding it again in the sea of other things you’ve also marked Favorite…And if I ever decide to drop my streaming service – or it goes out of business – what happens to my musical life?”1 These thought provoking questions and others have sent some listeners digging for their old iPod’s buried in their storage closets to use MP3’s again. Vinyl sales have begun to make a moderate resurgence in the market, but prove to be costly and time-consuming to manufacture. In the music publishing world, boutique online companies are opening their doors to artists to give them tools to promote themselves. MusicSpoke, for example, provides artists with a platform for digital sales and gives artist more control than traditional publishers. Equally as important, MusicSpoke composers receive the majority of the proceeds from the sale of their work. 2 Another shop, based in Fort Worth, TX called The Music Bed, enables artists to submit their work to an online database, where filmmakers are able to select music from their catalog. The Music Bed is a full service licensing platform that makes quality music easily accessible and artist-friendly. 3 These innovative companies are setting an example for creating hospitable environments for artists to sell and feature their work in advantageous ways.

To conclude this series, the following direct quote taken from Spotify’s website captures the modern spirit of new musical giants towards royalty payments. “Again, we personally view “per stream” metrics as a highly flawed indication of our value to artists for several reasons. For one, our growing user population might listen to more music in a given month than the month before (resulting in a lower effective “per stream”), while generating far more aggregate royalties for artists. As with any subscription service, our primary goal is to attract and retain as many paying subscribers as we possibly can, and to pass along greater and greater royalties to the creators of the music in our service. Theoretically, another service could generate higher effective “per stream” payouts simply by having users who listen to far less music. We believe, however, that our service and the lives of artists will both be best if the World’s music fans enjoy more music than ever before in a legal, paid manner.” 4 Reading between the lines of business jargon, Spotify asserts itself as completely justified and celebrated in comparison to piracy criminals. The measuring stick of success has tumbled down, falling past mediocrity, and now resides just above the darkest depths of humanity. Gone are the days when corporate icons strive to achieve new ethical heights or provide a beacon of hope for equality and respect. The new normal, simply put, is just to beat out the criminals. As long as patrons contribute to a music industry led by corporations that barely scrape by ethically, each and every listener actively robs themselves of a world where creations are accurately rewarded and people are respected. Unfortunately, the world seems hopelessly addicted to instant gratification. The nectar of limitless content is too sweet, and it is doubtful whether people are strong enough to wake up from this trance of free.

 

 

1 Fowler, Geoffrey A. “Apple Music Is Here, But Is Streaming Right For You?” http://www.wsj.com/articles/apple-music-is-here-but-is-streaming-right-for-you-1435625669

2 MusicSpoke. “About Us | MusicSpoke.” http://musicspoke.com/about-musicspoke/

3 MusicBed. “MusicBed About Us.” https://www.musicbed.com/about

4 Spotify, Inc. “Spotify Explained.” http://www.spotifyartists.com/spotify-explained/

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