You may know very well the story of Taylor Swift going against Apple and Spotify because these two decided to stream artists’ music without paying them any, or very little, royalties. After Taylor Swift pulled her entire repertoire from Spotify and called Apple out for originally not intending to pay publishers, labels or artists during the free three-month trial, she finally made up with Apple. Following a quite restless time, Swift tweeted she is putting her album on Apple Music ‘and happily so’.
Entries in spotify (19)
Since releasing my first digital album back in 2002, technology has played a crucial role in the distribution of the music I create. At that time, CDs were still the way folks listened to music but sales were definitely well in decline. Napster had scared the crap out of the music industry and was shut down for good. Mp3s were all the rage and there were these things called iPods that were changing the way people consumed their favorite songs and albums.
Thanks to archive.org and Creative Commons, I was able to distribute my music free of charge to my listeners without fear of the music being used for commercial purposes. I’d release a concept album that could be downloaded and enjoyed around the world. At the time, this was a novel idea for an independent artist.
ArtistLink started as an extension of the Topspin Media platform, so that non-Topspin users could add content to the MTV Artists site. It’s well on its way to becoming the control panel for the music industry.I encourage any artist with a release on Spotify to sign up for ArtistLink. All essential functionality is free. As of this writing, ArtistLink is basically four services rolled up into one. I’ll go over each, starting with the coolest.
More subscribers, more problems. As Spotify continues to grow, in both users and catalog, so do its detractors. Thom Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich recently took a stand against the streaming music service, citing that it’s “horrible for new artists.”
We’ve seen this before. The Black Keys recently refused to put their newest album “El Camino” on Spotify citing its detraction from album sales.
There’s a common thread here. Only established bands who have already made their money are the ones taking the stand against streaming music. New and upcoming bands are more willing to cast a big net to get ears to their music. It’s been proven time and time again that artists make more money off touring than album sales, so why not do everything you can to maximize your exposure to potential new ticket buyers?
It has become commonplace to hear artists, management, agents and labels complain about how streaming will crush the music industry. This same mentality arose during the transition into the CD and digital downloading eras. Don’t fear the numerous myths that have saturated our industry, streaming is not evil; merely different. And it is about to become the next powerhouse, quite possibly changing music distribution in a way never seen before. This transformation has already commenced in television and film. The music industry has fallen behind, but is quickly catching up with vengeance.
Sales of vinyl records are up in the United States and I have a theory on why some of us are going analog.
So, most of you are probably aware of the recent changes that Spotify has made in regards to opening up its platform for developers to build apps upon. In March, the social music service will be opening up an app store to help app developers get paid for their hard work. Last week, I read a really interesting article on the Gaurdian titled Spotify: ‘We have to turn ourselves into the OS of music’.
As a heavy user of the free version of Spotify , I really love what they are doing for social music but there are few major problems that I feel will prevent it from becoming the OS of music.
You can’t read an article in the music press without tripping over somebody complaining about Spotify royalties. You’ve heard the chorus: Spotify is destroying what’s left of the CD market. It is cannibalizing iTunes. It is ripping off indie artists. And so on.
So, you think. Spotify must be pretty bad.
But is it?
Spotify: Millions of DJs
As a music fan, the growing number of free and subscription based streaming services can be a dream come true. Install Spotify (or Rdio, Mog, Slacker, Rhapsody, Deezer, etc.) on your computer, your mobile phone, your internet-enabled stereo, and you have instant access to pretty much all the music that’s out there. Build playlists, see what your friends are listening to, those services have become a great tool to discover and enjoy music. Amazing.
From the artists that create this abundance of music, there’s been a very mixed reaction. I strongly suggest you read this 2011 recap by Bandzoogle friend and Nashville music marketing genius Charles Alexander. In it, he links to many articles and posts about Spotify that give you a good sense of why so many are worried or pissed off about it. You can also read the comments section to any post about Spotify on Hypebot, or Digital Music News and you’ll see that very graphic language is often used.
The short version ?
Digital music caught the record labels off guard and smashed their business to pieces, and from the rubble new economic realities are emerging. In this new reality, most independent artists, especially those who are just starting out, should give their music away for free. Sound crazy? Maybe, but hear me out. It boils down to 3 main concepts.
A question was brought to my attention after a chat with a friend, and I’m not sure I have an answer… So of course, I’ll turn to you. It went something like this: Friend: Spotify and Rdio both seem to either limit your amount of free music or play ads. I guess I’ll have to switch back and forth between them. Me: Or you could just pay for one? Friend: We pay after we know it’s good. We listen for free. Isn’t that the new standard?
What does streaming mean to an independant artist? Is streaming worth the loss in income so more fans can listen to your music? Can you ever break even? Is it better to just ignore the whole deal?
This essay is neither for nor against subscription music services, and will focus on answering four questions. 1) What is the revenue potential for subscription music services? 2) What are the most likely rates per stream? 3) How much money can an artist expect to make from subscription music? 4) Is a compulsory rate a sustainable business model?
I’ve spent my teenage and adult life obsessing over my music collection. Meticulously arranging hand labelled tapes and CD’s was FUN, but when the same job arrived for mp3’s, it became a massive chore. But I still felt compelled to own something, and so I continued for many years, wasting hours arranging an mp3 collection I’d not paid for. I passionately argued that I’d always want to own what I listened to, until the Spotify mobile app made that notion extinct.
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(Updated July 8, 2015)