There’s an interesting article posted by Rolling Stones Magazine called “Napster, Spotify and the Fall of the ‘Middle-Class Musician’.” The article was written by Jonathan Taplin. He writes about his book called, ‘Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy’. It appears that a significant chunk of this book discuses (the claims of) how ever since the invention of music streaming, the internet giants who got in the the music business has made it impossible for the lesser known artists to make money. I don’t know, is it possible that this is a bigger issue than what I’m able to see?
Taplin delivers a digestible account of just how the CEOs and venture capitalists who make the Internet run – many of them guided by the philosophical teachings of Ayn Rand – have created a monopoly, gained far too much power and also made it even more difficult for artists to survive.
I know what I’m about to say is probably a horrible example, but it’s the only one I can think of right now. But, I see this issue no different than when people thought new technologies back in the 80’s where taking jobs away. However, the fact was, new kinds of jobs were actually being created. The real issue as I saw it was, the insecurities of old employees learning something new, and the difficulties they had embracing change. You know, if I didn’t know any better, I’d make the assumption that in a subtle way, Taplin is trying to say that lesser known artists was some how put on “minimum wage.” An unwilling salary cut.
I just think that there are soooo many other additional issues that people are not taking in to consideration. A LOT. I’m not going to make this article lengthy, so I’m just going to cut to the chase. We’ve seemed to forget that, the OLD P2P Napster was partly responsible for the massive digital overhaul, and the way we receive and experience media today. The whole reason why most people were illegally downloading in the first place, was because we literally could not afford the music. I think that I can speak for most TRUE music fans, that we prefer to purchase our favorite artists. However, if we don’t have the financial means to pay (cause there’s a 900% markup on CDs) it’s by human nature that we will find other means as to get the music that we want, especially if music is in our blood. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, but it is very human. That’s just my opinion. Streaming has allowed people who can’t afford to buy music, stream unlimited music for a reasonable AND affordable price; or YouTube or Spotify for FREE streaming; AND it’s totally legal. Anybody who still use Bittorrents when it comes to music at this point, is just coocoo out of their mind. Well, somebody else can explain it to ya, ’cause I’m done with that. The rates in which they have to charge is going to be different than selling CDs in units. You cannot expect to make not even close to the money you used to make, when you’re under not only a different price structure, but under an entirely different music culture. Not only that, young people between the ages of (I’d say) 14-30 are using more streaming than any other age group. Having said that, most of these age groups are very picky about what and who they listen to, in addition to the fact that, you’re not the only artist that people are exposed to. I liken this to photographers and Behance. Being a photographer and competing to be seen over literally millions of other photographers is no easy task. By any means. Or picture starting a twitter account, and trying to get REAL loyal followers? It’s not an easy task. It takes a very long time. This is where good family culture comes in. The fact of the matter is, unless you’re Beyonce, you’re not going to get those streaming numbers that’ll get you the dollars you feel you should have.
I understand the struggles of a musician, but the real issue is the record labels still taking 70% of the profits, leaving a streaming service very little to have a functional business. Do you know that music streaming services are charged a flat rate (every year I believe) just to have the right to stream their music, ON TOP paying royalties? To my understanding, they’re not even paying songwriters for newer music streamed anymore. Why do you think big names like Janet Jackson are all starting they’re on labels? Record labels want to not only take your money, they want to control every inch of your creativity, style, the way you look, and sometimes they even try to force you to change your name if they don’t like it. There’s nothing you can really do about the record labels greed and their crookery. So trust me, services like Spotify and other streaming services are NOT the enemy. Stop trying to blame them ’cause the record labels are too big to be controlled. Streaming services are just as much a victim as artists. Get it? Having said this tho, there is absolutely no excuse not to use Spotify (FREE $0) services, or any other streaming service you love (paid or not), ’cause your favorite artist will not receive anything if you don’t.. The flip side of this coin is that, it’s unfortunate that a new artist needs a record label, because they got the connections and promotional money to put you out there. Music was never a main source of income, it’s always the actual performance. So, use the music to promote yourself, and if you’re good, when contract renewals come around, make the decision if you’re good enough to venture out on you’re own without a label.