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Cuckoomusic • 5 years ago

I'm an artist. Not successful at all commercially, but I put my soul into it. Instead of moaning about how leechers and pirates won the day Spotify got legal I'm gonna propose a way of using Spotify to your advantage, and to make it fun:

1. Make your awesome album.
2. Make a great, stripped down, charming and social live version of your album, with some talk about your awesome true album baked into some of the tracks. Release this version on Spotify to promote your awesome album.
3. Release your awesome album in a paid music format of choice.
4. Consider releasing it on your own on a custom ordered USB stick with your logo and fun design. USB sticks can be purchased for half a dollar from Chinese whole sale and is a perfect way of distributing media such as music, videos, lyrics, games etc. A USB stick is also useful after it has served its purpose of delivering the data.

Reivaj • 5 years ago

Release your album in whathever form = get it ripped and available free in internet in no time.

Deep State • 4 years ago

So the musician makes money while the Chinese wholesaler employees keep making nothing... and data that could have been transferred digitally at almost zero cost is loaded (manually) onto a throwaway bit of electronics. Brilliant plan...

Kevin Lyda • 4 years ago

Exactly. View Spotify as advertising that you get paid a tiny amount for.

Meanwhile as a music consumer, I never heard of cdbaby, but that's where I'm buying music from now on.

bearcreek911 • 2 years ago

Been using CD Baby, Host Baby, Discmakers for about 5 years, I have had no problems, love the service and easy to use.

K-OTIC • 6 years ago

Interesting read and i see tons of interesting comments, its crazy how this conversation is still going on. #ClassicBlogPost and kudos to the author. I myself am an indie producer and artist and I own my own Indie Music Production/Marketing company I Am A Brand Media Group LLC.There are PROS and CONS with all of this

My opinion is that giving out my material for free is actually the only way I can compete w/ the majors. That is if I want to stay relevant so its a must for me to have a shot of being successful. I wouldn't have the budget to get on major radio or distribution to the Wal Marts & the Best Buys nor would I have the budget to perform at arenas and shoot million dollar videos or get on the BETS or MTVS or VH1s. Another fact is that even though it pays little, it still pays, and if your an artist or a producer who is really trying to maximize his/her revenue you must take advantage of all avenues and not really on just one promotional or income source. If spotify is playing such small returns how about making up for the revenue by monetizing your youtube videos and your website or your blog w/ google ads? Thats what I do. Sell merch on your website. OR learn more trades and offer more services such as promo services and graphic designs, etc. As a matter of fact when somebody visits my website I make an average of $0.05 per visit due to PPC ads and Google adsense, so even though I'm not getting paid for the free download or stream that a fan/potential fan took advantage of, I'm still generating some form of revenue(even though it is little) just for the visit(on average).

Now the issue is with the payment model it self, & the payment model is 100% NOT FAIR to the artist and all of the contributors of any music project. It has nothing to do w/ the fact that a fan gets the music for free, that is irrelevant.

A cable tv customer gets to watch Jurassic Park for free whenever TNT plays the movie because they have paid the cable tv provider for the access. The difference is that THE CABLE PROVIDER PAYS THE NETWORK for their content so they can have a customer base in the 1st place. The difference is that THE NETWORK PAYS THE MOVIE COMPANY for the rights to show the movie. And the difference is that THE ADVERTISERS PAY THE NETWORK to display their commercial. So in this modern day of the internet and of free music, it really boils down to the royalties that are being payed by these sites/services and those royalties that are being received by the labels and the artist and contributors. The problem lies when sites like Spotify and Rdio pay such little to the artist. This is and is not radio. It is radio because it is free for the listener (not including satellite) and they generate their income by commercials/ads, at the same time it is not radio because fans control the playlist and not payola & that is the main reason why a fan is interested in a Spotify thus whya pay for play or web traffic makes sense, I just want a fair compensation!

I understand that if a million people are all streaming a million different artist at the same time then you have to pay a million artist that fee, as oppose to a million people listening to 1 song at the same time since radio controls the playlist BUT that is the service you offer and your advertisers and premium members will still cover the expenses for you, even if you automatically play ads or display pop up ads every 3 or 5 songs such as Pandora. If Youtube or Spotify or w/e website is generating money whether it is by ads or premium memberships or premium subscriptions, or one time fees, etc. then I should be given a certain percentage on top of that stream(similar to reverbnation even though it is minuscule) or simply just a better rate.

Artist are the reason why fans and customers are streaming or downloading music on the website in the 1st place. If it wasn't for your favorite band on these websites then there would be no listeners or fans which means there would be no advertisers which then mean there would be no website. Also most people here are not calculating the cost of distribution(which is fee based or % of sales/revenue based therefore eating away at the revenue), yet alone other cost such as recording, mixing, promotion/marketing, etc, but this is the cost of the music business, has been and always will be.

At the end of the day its a double edge sword. It means us as INDEPENDENT artist and producers and song writers have to work harder AND smarter just to make decent money. We no longer have to depend on a major to get our music out to the world and in addition we get to control the type of music we release. However we no longer have a power house machine behind us if we were signed and promoted BUT on top of that and at the same time we get to keep the majority of whatever income we do make if we do make money since we own our own music and publishing.

Dsorceress • 6 years ago

Yes! Most sense posted so far. Hat's off to you, K-OTIC.

K-OTIC • 5 years ago

Thanks Dsorceress

matt • 4 years ago

True, and youtube works too. But the returns are still now massively in favour of youtube and google, spotify compared with radio, which also offers listeners essentially free play too. They are making money from your work, we need to change the law to get artists returns for this. And not just major artists. It was a the change of the copyright laws 120 odd years ago that allowed musicians to make money from their work in the first place, and its application was adapted for radio, tv and film. We have to do the same now for the change in the current technology.

Also the more musicians have to rely on websites and merchandise for income the less they become musicians, the more they become new media marketing executives.

Maximillion • 6 years ago

Excellent post and some interesting comments here.
Unfortunately a lot of very naive views the reality of being a musician.

The modern artist has to invest a fantastic amount of time and money in order to be any good in the first place. Years of practise, thousands spent on equipment, rehearsal costs etc. You could have any degree in less time than it takes to be a really good musician.

What the latest figures actually show is that even if you manage to be reasonably successful (4,000,000+ plays on Spotify/1600 downloads a month) you can't make even enough money to live never mind continue with your career. Technology has made it cheaper to make records but still costs time and money to create, record and market.

"Just go out and do more gigs." If there is no money you can't - it costs money to drive around the country doing shows as a solo act and if you add musicians, hotels and food, venue costs, parking it costs even more. It's not rocket science.
Yes U2 and the like make millions touring because millions of people pay £100+ a ticket to watch them but that is the exception. Phone up your local decent small venue and see how much it costs to put a gig on. You'll get a shock. Multiply that by 20 cities and add the other costs. Your bankrupt!

As for the bizarre maths showing download and streaming are closer than the table suggests. Obviously they are not and that is misleading. It doesn't matter whether you listen once or a million times to music you have bought. With a stream you are renting and paying a royalty. The point is it is an extraordinarily low amount and is not enough so undermines sales in the same way as illegal downloads.

Streaming services like Spotify are ripping off musicians by claiming it's radio. It's not radio it's a jukebox but because it's owned by Sony BMG Music, Universal Music, Warner Music, EMI and Merlin (how many people know that?) they are planning on earning money in other ways so they don't care as much as they should about the artists. In fact it works better for them if they can keep the artist payment as low as possible. Just a slight conflict of interests....

Always astonished by some of the negative and frankly creepy comments some people make as if the artist deserves to be ripped off. Most artists i know would be happy to just make enough to live and continue making music. The point being it's almost impossible at the moment and if it doesn't change all we will be left with is reality show garbage and novelty records.

It's very tough being a musician these days but the world would be a worse place without any.

Dsorceress • 6 years ago

*sigh* It has always been tough being a musician. Think about how much it cost to get to national prominence in a world BEFORE radio, TV, etc. The simple fact is that just because a vanishingly few people make huge money at this, does not mean that anyone can decide that they have a right to be recompensed for how they chose to spend their time. No, you do not have a 'right' to make a living as an artist. Most of us DON'T make it. I made a fairly decent living as an artist for several years, but I decided it was better to do it on the side because it does not pay steadily. It never did, and not just for me, and not just because I wasn't 'good enough.' There is a lot of competition, and the big media labels have a pretty solid lock on things because they are the only ones with pockets deep enough to do the kind of advertising one must do to get to national prominence. But, just like all other financial ventures, the people who do the meaningful work do not take home the big bucks; those are reserved for the CEOs. Nothing different about this in the music biz as in any other venue. You can fly solo, just like any other biz. Make a better mousetrap, market it from your laptop at home. You will make a little money, then if you spark any real traffic, you might be offered a chance to sell your rights to someone who will 'package' it for you, and the end result will be you becoming the next McDonald brothers or Rod Canion... sitting on the sidelines making a pittance, watching someone else benefit from your work.
Sound unfair? IT IS. But guess what? It has ALWAYS been that way, and in every single business model, not just the music industry. LOTS of professionals, in all walks of life, work very hard perfecting a craft and don't get paid what their time and quality is worth. Welcome to reality! And guess what? The internet did not create THAT either., What it did do, though, was to make it a lot easier for a start up than it ever, ever was. So stop raining on the parade, for crying out loud. Stop weeping into your Wheaties because it's so hard to make a buck at this. Most of the great artists, whose names we are taught in school, died as paupers. Mozart shares that fate with Woody Guthrie. Marilyn Monroe and Vincent van Gogh as well, and too many more to mention. It is part and parcel of an artist's life; unlike shoes or food, people only buy art or music that appeals to them personally, and only with their disposable income. These are luxuries not necessities. Yes, music may make life worth living, but it can go by the wayside if it comes down to a choice between buying that CD or getting the baby diapers. Too many artists forget that. Yes, it is hard work, but until someone OFFERS to pay you for it, it is your HOBBY not your 'business.'

fFringe • 3 years ago

"Stop weeping into your Wheaties", coming from a person who starts off with " *sigh* ".

I bet you haven't changed a bit in 3 years, either.

Jonathan Haizel • 6 years ago

Maximillion, thank you for your informative comments and posts. I have read through all of the comments and yours are the only ones that consistently make sense, and I totally agree with you that it is quite unsettling to see peoples mis-guided opinions but I am seeing reflections in other sections of society, politics, banking etc... it seems the big corporations hide behind these deliberately set-up smoke screens of confusion all the while trying to make as much money and hold onto as much control as possible, all the while, leaving the general public to argue over the points that they THINK are the real issues when really many of us have no clue! Your examples of everybody beleiving music should be free is a good example of how people have been brainwashed by popular culture into thinking, every musician is a Jay Z or Beyonce or Bruno Mars capable of arrogantly commanding millions in revenue when that is clearly not the case.

I am a producer and songwriter and have had a little success with sync deals and hope to someday quit my day job, but I am under no illusion that that day will actually happen with "more gigs and more hardwork" that is way too naive. The one way to increase my chances, along with making sure I am the best musician I can be, is to make sure I understand as much as I possibly can, the inner workings of the BUSINESS of music and what motivates the corporations, what goes on behind the scenes, what new trends are and staying flexible enough to be able to move with changes in the market. I know its sad, that as a musician, that is what I feel I must do, but I am not greedy, as are not most musicians, but there is no-one else out there that is going to look out for my interests, so if I dont, who am I expecting to do it for me.....?

Maximillion, if there is anyway I could stay in touch with you I would greatly appreciate access to your incites, please let me know if you have a blog or twitter account? my email ad is jbalze_the1@yahoo.com

Many thanks


Kriz • 4 years ago

Thanks, it's exactly how you state: I'm a musician, had a professional education, am practising 2+ hours a day (would like more, but my working day has only 18 hours); I'd be glad to just get over by playing and producing records. I don't have to be rich, I just want to survive. I played hundreds of shows, I can be heared on over 30 records but the fact is, that all my money I gain comes from a 60% parttime job. 15 years ago I could afford making records by selling them at my gigs. Today no one will buy any cds anymore and if I hadn't provided myself with professional recording equipment over the years I had to completely stop making any records at all, since I could never pay the cost of a professional production by selling it and here we don't talk about earning a single penny for myself...
Instead of practising, composing, arranging, recording I spend a much bigger amount of time with management, promotion, looking for other oportunities of income based on music. It simply cannot be that in the future we will only live of charities from our fans since no one pays for what we produce...

Corey Makaih • 6 years ago

That is why you need to "Plan" In ANY business it takes start up costs, advertising, marketing, etc just like any other business. It's not going to be easy just because its music. Not everyone has what it takes to be successful at music. That's not to say you can't be successful at doing it. People want the easy way out but really music is just as hard as starting any other business. If you want to do it, commit to it! There is no Music Industry. It's all business no investment = no success. You can't expect to spend all your money on new equipment, album covers, and website graphics without accounting for Marketing and Promotion for shows. Why would anybody come to your show and they don't know about it? I mean, use the internet!
Google adwords, Reverbnation, Cd baby, Youtube, there are so many options.
Invest in your music just like any other Business! No matter how great your music is, no one cares if they can't find it!

Bruce Free • 3 years ago

The problem is that society is growing immaterial. It is loosing its grip on tangible reality and is under the spell of simulated digital environments. The truth is that we are biological and that we have basic needs to live. We cannot eat or breathe the digital artefacts that are piling up by the billions trillions in nowhere land. A society that can no longer value the materiality of existence such as the mere fact of there being water, air, skins touching, etc. can only perish in the end. They prefer to caress their touch screen instead of another human being. It's really a love for machines that is replacing love for living beings. Most of the "music" today is just noise produced by machines. There is hardly a human and biological factor left in there. It is a music for machines. So everything that has real value for life is loosing its value. Real music does have a deep and meaningful relation to life. I think that mankind has always had some form of music making or he wouldn't be what he is. It is not a form of luxury as some seem to think. Humans need stories, myths and art to live in. It has always been like that. Take any study of "primitive" people that has been conducted and you'll notice right away that they survived in nature not through economical logic as we would think but by living their lives inside a great myth that makes life meaningful.
As humans are slowly fading away and making place for robotic puppets that have to simulate feelings, that possess no real mind of their own, then it is but a consequence of this that everything is mass produced and that no heart has been put into it. This also goes for music. The internet is literally a pile of rubbish with a few gems hidden in there somewhere. It is just a digital version of what mankind has done to this planet.

The truth about these matters is far darker and more tragic than the average person will accept, but if we don't get to the depth of all these problems that are obviously not getting better, there is no real chance of ever finding a different way. People need to realise that they have become robotic, zombie and mindless - whatever you call it. In many ways this world has just become a nightmare but we need real people to change this and not those who are floating high up in the sky of illusions.
Edit: a song of mine concerning this topic https://soundcloud.com/bruc...
I thought I'd share it.

Tati • 2 years ago

Everything you just said echoes the way that I have been feeling for the past couple of years, as technology has gotten more popular and so has people's abuse of it. I haven't really been able to put into clear words why I am so frustrated with the direction that our world is going, besides by just saying that it's very frustrating when it feels like people in your life would rather sit and stare at their phone for hours on end, than talk to a human being that's sitting right in front of them. People are wasting precious time that they have with their loved ones and instead are choosing to be controlled by machines. I can't thank you enough for putting my every though and feeling about this subject into clear and understandable words. I'm so glad that there are other people out there who feel this way; it gives me a little hope.

fFringe • 3 years ago

I agree with all of this.


1. Streaming services are like a jukebox, but with the added benefit of essentially "owning" all the music. All you have to do is find the album you want, create a playlist, and then you basically have that album in the same exact way you'd browse your iTunes library. Spotify even calls playlists "Your Music". They've basically removed the user's cost of ownership from digital download marketplaces, but not the ownership.

2. The negativity is coming from a place of ignorance. Like you say, most of them have no idea the actual blood, sweat, and tears that are poured into creation, and what it takes to master an instrument, or even further, master an art; beyond that base ignorance, people also are kind of glossing over the point that these streaming services aren't an alternative or some secondary source to find music. They are a replacement, in the same way that digital downloads and pirating knocked out most of the brick-and-mortar record store businesses. The economic losses alone have yet to be replaced--the billions of dollars generated by the industry is still being generated, but it is being distributed to a much, much smaller group.

3. That much smaller group, at least in the case of Spotify (by no means the only offender), is partly owned by major media corporations, like you said: those companies together own about 20%. And for anyone who considers Spotify to be some sort of indie, start-up net success that's just "two guys from uTorrent", go here: https://www.crunchbase.com/...

Half a billion dollars from seven investment rounds, with such independent, artist-promoting corporations and firms such as Coca-Cola and Goldman Sachs.... actually, considering Goldman Sachs had a direct hand in the most recent economic meltdown, and got 10 billion dollars from the 2008 bailout (2.9bil of which it simply kept for itself rather than paying back it's duped investors like it was supposed to do), maybe the streaming services aren't really all that free, maybe they're even more expensive than the $18.99 compact disc on sale in Tower Records in 1999.

It's a fucked system, and even though his post is from three years ago, it's still as big an issue as ever, there still has been no improvement in what artists are earning, and there are still people like "Dsorceress" who may or may not have sold a few paintings for three years and imagine themselves an expert on everyone's experience earning money from art, ever, and still others who believe that it's really easy to be an artist AND pimp yourself out on the internet. As if.

Bob • 5 years ago

When are musicians going to wake up? Offering FREE downloads to third party music sites is only feeding the 'Freeloaders', not 'downloaders'. People show up at work and expect to get paid, what if their bosses said they had to work a week FREE to see if they liked their work, then what. These Freeloaders are nothing more than bums and theives. Artsists spend their whole life perfecting and practicing their craft and a lot of money in production and equipment. Why, so the greedy public can steal and ripoff their music?
All Artists should ONLY offer 40-1 minute previews. If people can't figure out they'd like to hear the entire song with that they're idiots. If all artists stop whoring out their work then All artists would be paid and these third party download sites would have to start being accountable!

DrHouse5 • 5 years ago

The problem is that most artist shouldn't be artist.

John • 5 years ago

Well said Bob.It's time to kick the "the world OWES me everything" generation where the sun don't shine!

JoshLRussell • 5 years ago

Actually entirely factually incorrect. Recent evidence showed that people who avail themselves of free downloads (legal or otherwise) are actually the peak consumers; they spend more money on legal music than anyone else. So the 'freeloaders' you refer to are actually the people keeping those artists going.

Frankly I would rather see artists like Radiohead release free records or artists self-publishing and distribution than the current model where the vast proportion of the profits go to the labels who are, increasingly, doing very little when more artists are creating and producing their own music.

Rusty Shackleferd • 4 years ago

Exactly,I'm glad they shut down limewire and megaupload.I'm no artist but I knew people who knew indie artist,I know their struggle,and it's very wrong.Give people the opportunity to anonymously use or keep digital content,and they will make copies,even sell it,never paying for your hard work.

Luv0fmusic • 4 years ago


Shonn Frank • 6 years ago

Great discussion. I wrote an article that was very well received on this topic about two years old. Much has changed since then, and I'm still not sure which side is ultimately "right". However, I still personally maintain that this is all a good thing for artists.

And just to add to that, I could cite my own experience. When I wrote that two years ago I had been on year 6 of my "hiatus" from music (you could say retirement, but that would suggest that I earned some sort of living in music.) Yeah, from high school to around the age of 30, I put (what I thought at the time was) everything into "making it" in the industry. I spend money on studio time and demo tapes and did shows in dives in front of anywhere from 1 to a few hundred people, with most closer to the 1.
All during that time, it was a "gamble", all or nothing. You were praying that you rub shoulders with or at least get heard by "the right person." No matter how good I thought I was, it was about hustling to get that break, very political. The ones who faired were the ones who could also BS. BUT there was never the idea that one could earn a living. You were either a "starving musician" sleeping on your groupie's sofa or you got a crappy record deal that left you high and dry OR you were making money, but only a fraction of what you deserve. A decent deal would be earning about a buck on a 19.99 CD and forget about keeping any publishing. And even THAT was hitting the lottery, because that was the only way.
I think some people are assuming that artists were doing great before all this. No. And most like me had to give up what they love and give up the dream of getting a contract.

Anyway, a year ago, I decided to go back to work on music, because I saw a chance. First of all, what digital technology has done for music production (in my particular genre of hip hop especially) is a miracle. But besides that, there is now an opportunity to do it yourself. I wouldn't understate the importance of people streaming your music. Do any artists here remember how hard it was to get ONE person to just shut up and listen to your stuff for a minute? lol

Of course, I realize that I am taking an unpopular angle. I truly feel that having people hear and appreciate my music is the most valuable thing to me.

Plus, another important factor is that an artist has no overhead. Last century, music was a tangible product. To have even 1000 CDs pressed was too much for an indy artist to handle. Now, you have virtually a whole warehouse full of your music. Then there is merchandise. A place like Razzle.com allows you to design your merch and sell it right there...again no overhead. And overall, no one has their hand in your pockets. It's all yours.

HJ • 5 years ago

Well, seems like it just sucks to be an artist....

First it was piracy that "was going to kill the music industry" and when someone finally made a good enough legal service to more or less eradicate all the illegal downloads the labels and artists starts bitching about it anyway.

Just face it, the world and the demands have changed and no matter how much the labels want the world to be back in the 80ish it won't happen. Adapt or be prepared for a very rocky ride.

TheMetalSgt • 5 years ago

That is true. Before, buying an Album was the thing to do, now it's buying a video game or iphone. But, I strongly believe if the world shut music 'off' for a week, and no one could buy, download, stream or listen to music, they would know how valuable it really is.

foodandart • 5 years ago

Nope. People would just make their own and plink away at their garageband or move on to something else much the way people that stop watching TV move away from shows and movies almost entirely. I don't watch shows or go to movies hardly at all anymore, since we got rid of the TV. Do spend time talking and hanging with friends and going out and enjoying my day now..

TheMetalSgt • 5 years ago

I don't I watch everything online when I can. We are moving away from TVs, but not from entertainment media. It's just moving to a new platform. And I still dissagree, I know a lot of people that would miss music. With almost anything, once you have something great, it's hard to go back to sitting around a campfire listening to a guy who can't really sing or play guitar.

Macky • 6 years ago

So what's the solution? Why are we all the victims of these big corps ruling the world?

If anyone is out there actually coming up with a solution, a fair way for artists to be paid for their wares please reply to this post. The only reason the big corps are in charge is because the rest of us think that it's only them who can change things. We are not powerless; there are so many people commenting here, and these people are a minute fraction of the people who would like to see a fair exchange between artist and listener.

How can a CD or mp3 sale be compared to a listen on Spotify? If I like a track I'll listen to it on Spotify anywhere between 50 and 200+ times a year. An album that I like I'll listen to say 30 to 100 times a year. You'd have to divide the revenue of a bought CD or mp3 by 500 to 1000 to compare to Spotify listens.

If the rate is .04 of a euro cent (see http://www.spotidj.com/blog... for a Spotify play, then 520 listens by a single fan per year (10 listens per week) would equal 0.20 euros. Thats only 5 fans listening on Spotify to give the artist the equivalent of 1 CD sale. Bearing in mind that a CD will possibly be lent, copied (copies then copied and shared with friends) and eventually sold on (with the original copies still on peoples PCs, mp3 players, etc) the revenues could even be equal in some cases (please don't pick the maths apart, there are obviously variations within this as not all people lend their CDs to others or copy them). Similarly an mp3 downloaded for 99 cents will often be copied and be listened to countless times for that single sale.

Further to this this is the exposure (abd therefore value) that Spotify offers through the sharing of playlists and notifications of what friends and peers are listening to, no to mention the fact that I can listen to an artist/track/album in good quality at my leisure as many times as I like without the commitment to purchasing anything. Therefore I can hang out with music that is new to me where and when I like, increasing the scope of new music that I can enjoy (and therefore increasing the market that musicians can access worldwide without leaving their home/studio/town). Where else can I choose to listen to music that someone has recommended to me? They can lend me the CD, or burn me a copy (no revenue for artist), I can go to myspace, which tends to be poor quality and doesn't work on my Android browser very well, as well as being nowhere near as good a media player as Spotify. With Spotify I can quickly add any album as a playlist using the Android app, then listen to it when I am next sat at my PC. Any tracks that I like I simpy star and then I've easily got a playlist of new music that I like. If I like this new artist recommended to me I'll listen to it more often on Spotify and my friends will see that I am listening to it online, creating much more exposure than just the people who will hear it at home or in my car when I listen to it. The notifications actuall hang around after I've listened to a track, so the exposure is many times the length of the track itself.

If you make good music then Spotify gives you access to a massive market at your fingertips. You need to be business wise or have a good manager to make money from your craft, in any trade. If you have sold the rights to your music to a label in the hope they will do the best for you then good luck. Personally I think the days are coming to an end where we need to sell our precious creations to corporations in exchange for the hope of success.

And finally why do some musicians think they're hard done by because they don't know whether they'll make money or even cover costs when they produce an album or go on tour? This is the reality for every person who chooses to work for themselves; in any trade income is never guaranteed, but those with a good product/service and business sense will generally be successful.

Shaun Wallace • 5 years ago

Very good comment, I agree with ya. If you make good music, and have some biz sense or a great manager who does, you'll succeed eventually (and make a sale or ten).

tgcrawford • 2 years ago

Yes, dear friends, the solution is almost here. And everyone will love it.

Dragren • 4 years ago

An artist Union.
IF it's not fair then the unions go on strike no music is realsed for a month .

That would show everyone that they need new music.
Also if somehow you could discopurage new musicians it would make the maket less saturated and you would only have good musicians making music.
People who weren't good enough would realise quicker and therefor go into a different career. NO more poor musicians.

Nick Taylor • 6 years ago

Look at it as free radio - pre internet, the record-selling industry would needs to spend hundreds of thousands in payola to break an act in the US. Now fans are doing that for free via a far more powerful medium of personal recommendation.

We also need to get away from the idea that anyone has "the right" to work once and be paid forever...

... and REALLY need to get away from the idea that "the right" to work once and be paid forever can be bought and sold so corporations accumulate the vast bulk of these rights...

... and REALLY REALLY REALLY need to get away from the idea that these corporations then have "the right" to buy political decisions... that impose laws on the rest of us, which specifically break Internet freedom, and turn it into a surveillance and control mechanism.


Pre-napster, fewer than 3% of musicians signed to major labels made more than $600 / year from selling records. Musicians never made money from "selling copies" to start with - a big part of which was to do with the utterly exploitative deals that record-companies imposed on them.

More musicians are making a living from music now than at any time in human history - and it's because of the internet.

Maximillion • 6 years ago

Free radio with a product that is not free to create. If shoes are free footlocker is bust. If coffee is free Starbucks is bust. Doesn't compute. Spotify - owned by major labels and Chinese corporations is in it it to make MONEY. it's not some cool kid in his bedroom you are defending here. It's a bunch of corporate whores who would do anything to make profit.They want to make as much money as possible so they don't want to pay the artist!!!!! Why is it so hard to understand that it is not fair!

ᅠᅠᅠ • 6 years ago

He didn't say it's fair, he said it's less unfair than what came before. People automatically compare Spotify & Co. to traditional retail as if it's the same thing, and use that false assumption to claim musicians make less money. It's a logical fallacy. Nick's post shows a different angle: who's to say that Spotify doesn't (also) replace traditional radio? With the difference that artists don't have to pay $750'000 to get a single played on the air, but actually can get "airtime" for free.

Also, please refrain from comparing arts or digital goods with physical goods, these comparisons never work. They are usually used by industry lobbyists to confuse people. No, making music isn't free, but that's not new, it never was. Your comparison confuses a work and its copy, a fundamental difference. Copying a digital copy is (for all intents and purposes) free, creating a CD copy or a copy of a shoe design is not free.

paul • 6 years ago

"I’m not defending the grossly corrupt royalty system of the major record labels. I’m just saying that it’s not as simple as “artists don’t earn as much as they could/should/would.”"

uhhh, yes. yes it is that simple. and yes, you are defending the "grossly corrupt" royalty system. albeit unknowingly and indirectly.

ᅠᅠᅠ • 3 years ago

How so? Considering that I have only ever shown contempt for the way the industry was run by the majors over many decades, especially regarding artists' rigths. And considering how everything I ever uttered in these discussions has been in strong support of the new, more democratic, more diverse, more balanced, indie-centric, artist-supportive nature of the music world – right in the face of all the doom and gloom professed by the majors – I find it hard to imagine how I could unknowingly defend them. I would be very interested if you could elaborate how I supposedly support the system that I'm so happy about finally seeing burn to the ground.

And no, it's not simple. Even the assumption of artists earning less is incorrect. First of all, what timeframe are we talking about? The concept of making good money from music is certainly not much older than the 1950s. In the heyday of the pop industry, a lot of people profited. Often the wrong ones, and the right ones usually only seemingly so, and in a very unhealthy, unsustainable way. And what are we talking about with "artists"? Up until not too long ago, anyone but maybe the top 1% used to have an utterly shitty deal that got them absolutely nowhere financially. The majors did a good job of presenting it as a dream come true, by prepping up their current stars-of-the-day, and screwing over everybody else, including the stars-of-yesterday. Being a musician has always been hard. But never as hard as when a substantial record deal was an absolute necessity to even get published.

The music business has changed, as has every other business. Revenue from records goes down, other areas have taken up. There are new channels and services, and to just assume outright that they're replacing old channels, instead of adding to them, is not understanding what's going on.

Further, have you seen the numbers and trends with regards to majors vs. indies? With a more levelled playing field, direct sales, democratised production... I'd wager that never in the history of the recorded music industry have more artists been able to make a profit off their music than today. They're more widely spread, less broadly popularised, there are fewer extreme examples and those are less extravagant. But make no mistake, for the regular, non-major-backed artist, times have never been better. For every couple of artists that make less money now than in the 80s or 90s (already pretty much a prerequisite to have had a major deal for that), there are thousands of artists getting paid for music that they wouldn't have even been able to publish just a few years ago.

Add to that: are revenues in music as a whole down in general? Sure. As are revenues in films, books, theatres. That's nobody's fault, it's the natural effect of an exploding number of possibilities how people can spend their limited spare time and limited disposable income. That's a development of mostly the past 20-30 years. This is no longer a world of your two local brick-and-mortar record stores with whatever they had in stock. This is the day of instantaneous access to dozens of online retailers with an unlimited stock of millions of tracks on offer, down to the little bedroom project. Everything has been spread out. Entertainment spending hasn't declined, it's the number of possibilities of what it can be spent on that has grown exponentially.

So no, it's not simple. "Artists don't earn as much" – in total, maybe. But the ratio of people who make a plus to people who make a minus has almost definitely never been better. That's the reality of the new world of music. And many independent artists, labels, distributors and retailers will tell you the same thing.

Giselle • 4 years ago

Spotify is a Swedish company and the major labels only own a very, very small part. EMI doesn't even own 2% and Universal only owns roughly 4%. Together the big labels own about a 5th of the company but the biggest share is held by Martin and Daniel who founded the company.

Kevin Jones • 6 years ago

Free radio? On traditional radio broadcasts artists receive royalties. They radio station garners a larger audience. As a result, artists gain more exposure and a larger fan base(depending on the level of talent). Why shouldn't an artist expect a reasonable profit when selling good music?

David Cavan Fraser • 6 years ago

"More musicians are making a living from music now than at any time in human history – and it’s because of the internet."

Really? What is your source of information for this fact? My experience seems to tell me this is not the case.

ᅠᅠᅠ • 3 years ago

It's what every indie label I ever talked to about this tells me, and the impression of many artists and retailers. Plus the fact that the indies today have an unprecedented share of the market, and still growing; together with the knowledge of how few artists signed to major labels actually made any money, and how many of those signed to indie labels do. Then add the fact that the total amount and variety of music offered for sale has grown exponentially over the past decades.

Unfortunately, this is of course practically impossible to really get in numbers. That's why numbers by IFPI, RIAA & Co. are so misleading – they're ignoring large parts of the business, and the fastest growing ones at that. But from everything I see, read or hear every day, I am pretty convinced that today a lot more people are making *some* money, where previously a very few people made *all* the money.

Of course that doesn't imply that many people earn enough to make a living off their music. But don't forget that this was also only true for a very small minority of recording artists previously.

Rub • 6 years ago

"pre internet, the record-selling industry would needs to spend hundreds of thousands in payola to break an act in the US"

Agreed but, people didn't get the power to replay the song at will anywhere, they eventually had to go and buy the album or the single if they wanted the song. With spotify giving you the chance to play and replay anywhere I don't see why anyone would go and buy the music... And realistically as more and more acts join Spotify a payola system will take place for some to come up to the top of the surface.

Thaniell • 6 years ago

@Rub: Never heard of a mixtape, have you?!

ᅠᅠᅠ • 3 years ago

I think it pretty much already is a payola system, almost by necessity. The sheer amount of material being released, simply due to how easy it has become to record and publish, has made it immensely more difficult to get noticed. Enter all the ways of paying for the necessary exposure to reach critical mass, or get noticed by the right people. I don't think streaming services change a lot in that regard.

But I also don't think they have as strong an effect on sales as some think. They definitely are a major factor in the decline of CD sales. They'll probably have one on digital download sales. But who are the people who pay for records in the first place? It's the ones who feel most strongly about the music and supporting the artists. And those have always been the biggest spenders. Remember the studies that showed a strong correlation between the people who pirated the most music, and the people who *spent* the most on music. I don't know how minute or devastating the effect would be if "casual" listeners stopped buying music altogether. But I doubt that streaming has a big effect on music fans, who would never see licensed access to a stream as a replacement for an actual, usually physical, copy. Otherwise, why would vinyl sales double each year?

In other words, let's hope big-spending music fans make up a large enough part of sales compared to the more numerous only-occasionally-and-little-spending folks. Because if people actually saw streaming as a full-valued replacement for actually buying music (and going to gigs), apart from the financial effects I think it would also be a very bad sign for the state of music in general.

Maximillion • 6 years ago

Unfortunately not true.

jason • 5 years ago

I am and have been recording producing and performing since 1993 and when i decided to take on the internet even today i'm slow to throw my music out there without considering what it is i'm trying to achieve. I have not dealt with any of these places simply because I've seen ppl do it without their aid and i believe any independent should understand the definition of independence...you're on your own. It's difficult but not impossible to work your way around Spotify or anyone else but you're gonna have to learn how to create a website from the ground up that will allow you to address sales and marketing on your own terms. trust me i'm getting there and what music i do have out there it's free for all to listen to until i can give you a package worth paying for that you'll love and talk about.

Karen • 6 years ago

By coincidence I read this article today: http://thetrichordist.wordp...
It explains the mechanics & tragic consequences behind this very shocking graphic.

It seems to me we don't need additional laws etc about copyright - govt can never fix this problem. We just need individuals to start acting ethically, paying themselves & pressuring companies into paying up.

At the end of the day, if you spend next to nothing on music the artist can't be earning much more.

Mark • 6 years ago

Fascinating discussion. As an artist who has released 3 independent records myself, i live or die by the internet these days. i won't be played on your local radio station, I'm not signed to a big label. i don't tour much, and i have to have a day job to make ends meet. I don't have the money to take out full page ads in rolling stone. so how do i get my music out to people, places like spotify, rhapsody, that's how. It's a streaming site which means it's like radio, radio who's playlist is controlled by the user, not payola from a big label. there seems to be a lot of indie snobbery on here from musicians who think their art has been devalued or something. well guess what. take your music off spotify, go ahead. live in your closeted world. and see how many people come to your shows or buy your music. i won't because i won't have heard of you. what the chart needs as other people have mentioned is a comparison with radio and nothing else. take a history lesson through music, in the 60/70's you might have been in a band never got signed and put a record out. then when punk broke and independent music came to pass, more people with less talent were able to put records out, increasing competition (or choice whichever way you look at it), but competing for your dollars nonetheless. now with the internet and cheap home recording even more people make music 90% of whom would never have released a record 40 years ago. some of you 'artists' need to get off your high horse, and stop being so precious. making a living at this is all about publicity, if you want to keep to your little clique of friends, and have 2 men and a dog show up to your gigs, you can do that. for those of us that don't we'll alow our music to be streamed.

Matt • 3 years ago

how about you check bandcamp and use it....