I recently wrote a post called Apple Music – will indie artists get their share, which prompted some interesting discussion. But the same questions can and should also be asked of Spotify.
Taylor Swift made this point recently in a Vanity Fair interview, and as a result Spotify’s VP of Content and Distribution Sachin Doshi, got asked some tough questions in a new post on the Music Business Worldwide site.
He answered some of those questions, and carefully avoided answering some of the others directly. You can read the full post here:
But here are a couple of quotes that jumped out at me:
“We are paying out an extraordinary amount of money. We are trying to figure out why certain artists aren’t seeing it…”
We continue to hear complaints from some members of the artist community.
More than ever, we are trying to figure out what’s happening; why certain artists don’t feel like they’re seeing a portion of that money.
I’m not going to sit here and point fingers until we know exactly what’s happening. But it’s certainly true that with certain artists – the more vocal ones – it’s not that we’re not paying out to them, it’s just that they’re not seeing the money…
Until we really understand what’s happening and where the money’s going, it’s hard to blame any particularly corner of the rights-holder universe.
Not everybody is taking part in the bonanza that is Spotify at this moment.
To me, that seems like politically correct way of saying “we’re giving the money to the labels, but they aren’t passing it on to the artists”.
He says something similar later in the post about songwriter’s royalties.
Does that suggestion hold up to scrutiny ? I’m no expert, but from what I’ve heard and read, I think it’s a valid point.
He also addresses the idea of pro-rata payouts for artists who actually get played by users – I linked to a post about it in an update to my earlier post – and says:
“I think there is a misconception about what that [pro rata] model really means”
While I understand the desire behind ‘this is how I used to get paid for CD, why can’t it be the same now?’, I don’t think it necessarily addresses all of the nuances of what subscription means…
There’s a lot of misinformation about who would benefit and who would hurt from the change in the model you mention
It’s not what most people think. Your hypothetical metal band might be surprised to learn what the results of that shift would be.
Well, fair enough – I’d be the first to admit I don’t understand all the subtleties of this stuff – so, show us some examples and let us see the results of that shift for ourselves, already !
Could independent artists actually be getting a fairer deal ?
One recurring theme I’m seeing in the discussion of these issues is the one hinted at by the replies above – if you’re signed to a label, you may not be seeing all the money that you’d hope – but that’s not necessarily Spotify or Apple’s fault. It could be down to the labels themselves – and let’s face it, that’s the way it’s always been in the past.
Whereas, if you’re un-signed, at least whatever money you earn is coming directly to you.
You still won’t be seeing large sums of money yet, though, unless you have a massive audience. But as subscribers to streaming services increase, and ad revenue goes up, maybe…
So who is the real bad guy here ?
Spotify, Apple – or neither ?
Time will tell, maybe.
Coda: Another option – ‘fair trade music’ ?
Meanwhile, there’s always the chance that independent artists could side-step all these issues entirely.
Imogen Heap recently posted this tweet:
— Imogen Heap (@imogenheap) June 27, 2015
The post she links to describes a “fair trade music” idea, and the technology that might support it – P2P sharing and Bitcoin, for example.
And in true Heapstyle, she’s running with the idea, dreaming up a system to achieve this called Mycelia. Right now it’s just an idea, but she’s already connecting with people who could make it happen. As she says on her site, it would be:
Open source, a living, breathing, smart, decentralised, transparent, adaptable, useful, shining home for our love of music.
A home which allows creativity to flow, connect and facilitate collaboration on so many levels, many of which just haven’t been possible.
With this grand library of all music forming the basis upon which all music businesses from digital radio to tour bookings can then grow and thrive from. Empowering the artists, turning and landing the industry finally on its feet.
Sound good to you ? Yeah, me too.
What do you think ? The Answer To All Our Problems, or just another techie pipe-dream ?