Musicians On The Wrong Side Of History

from the how-medieval dept

Things are getting really odd in the latest music/internet/Silicon Valley skirmishes. It would appear that the step up in anti-streaming music, anti-silicon valley, anti-Google rhetoric by famous musicians is getting heated.

The lexicon is growing: Thom Yorke called streaming music services the last desperate fart of a dying corpse, where “corpse” refers to the recorded music industry. David Byrne joined the fray with an odd article for the Guardian last month that compelled me to write my own Op-ed rebuttal. Mr Byrne was telling of how he had removed “as much of my catalogue from Spotify I can.” I believe that is the wrong answer for all musicians, rich and poor.

I also wrote a post that offered a solution. I proposed that if the richer musicians were so concerned for their less well off brethren, and believed that culture and society was about to collapse, then perhaps they should help them out.

Not that that’s going to happen anytime soon.

The latest addition to the anti-technology list of musicians is the well-respected T Bone Burnett, who in a Halloween-inspired fit of pique, said in a Hollywood Reporter article titled: T Bone Burnett vs. Silicon Valley: ‘We Should Go Up There With Pitchforks and Torches.’

How medieval.

Mr. Burnett has a soundbite for us all — “Digital sound has dehumanized us.” If I think for a moment about the true dehumanization of societies under attack around the world — Iraq, Syria, Mali to name but a few — I can only scoff at that statement. It’s pure hyperbole.

I saw a tweet from Thom Yorke the other day where he’d taken a snap of a page from a Jaron Lanier book (I’m guessing Who Owns the Future?) where Yorke wrote “I am proudly Luddite if to be so is to criticise the power and destruction of Google etc.. J Lanier again.”

Let’s take a look at what exactly describes a Luddite — “a member of any of the bands of English workers who destroyed machinery, esp. in cotton and woolen mills, that they believed was threatening their jobs (1811–16).” And in a finer description — “The Luddites were 19th-century English textile artisans who protested against newly developed labor-saving machinery from 1811 to 1817.” [Link]

And so, if we were to take Thom at his word, the fall of Google would cause him and his supporters to dance in the streets waving their proverbial “pitchforks and torches,” while denying those in society who are not musicians the benefits of labor-saving technology that Google and other technology companies bring.

That’s about as far away from a credible position in this discussion than I can imagine. The real irony there is that the “labor-saving technologies” of today make it easier, not harder, for musicians to reach an audience. Thom’s band Radiohead posted a film, Scotch Mist, to the Google-owned YouTube where it has garnered almost 7.3 million views. Just sayin’.

Very recently Tim Quirk, a musician and a friend who I have known for some time now, gave a speech at the Future of Music Summit (you can link to it here.) At its heart Tim’s talk was an impassioned plea for musicians to understand the true value of music, not as in a price-point, but at its emotional level. He notes that you cannot devalue music’s worth at that level. He understands that musicians are fighting technology because of their misguided, nostalgic view of the recording industry. There was never a “Golden age” of music. Record deals were not built to empower musicians, they were to benefit the record labels. Most musicians hardly ever made a living from music, only those who rose to the top did. Nothing has changed.

Tim provided an image that shows the reality of a music ecosystem:

From Tim:

You can sketch this dynamic with a simple pyramid showing lots of people spending little or no money at the bottom and fewer people spending lots of money at the top. If you’re a new band, you begin at the bottom of that pyramid, but no matter how popular a given artist gets or how amazing her latest single is, there will always, always, always be more people in the world who don’t care than who do.

So the goal for every artist and every song has always been to climb this pyramid, convincing as many people as you can to part with something in exchange for listening. At first, you just want their attention. The next step is to get them to give you some money for the privilege of hearing your song whenever they happen to get the urge and as you keep climbing the pyramid, you find yourself with fewer and fewer listeners but each one who remains is happy to give you more and more money.

It has never been any different than it is now in other words. The only change is a societal shift. Young people have voted with their ears. They want to access music wherever they are, they are willing to pay for it too. If they like your music they’ll keep paying, if they don’t like it they won’t bother to even listen to it. Radio has always been free for music fans. If they heard something they liked they bought it. Today — same as it ever was. (Before you jump in and say the access to “free” music is killing careers, please remember that radio was always free, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Still is. Purchasing decisions are made around it. Online and mobile access to music creates demand if the listener perceives its value.)

Let’s take the musician’s arguments at face value and tell it like it is: they are demanding that they be singled out as a special interest group that should always be able to make an income from their work. If they hold to that position in the face of how markets actually work, e.g. a superior product at a reasonable price will sell better than an inferior product where demand creates the price points, then they will simply lose face and their audience will move on.

And prices are flexible. Arcade Fire released its new album this week and reportedly sold 140,000 copies. If another band called Arcade Ice was as popular but offered its album at $1 less it doesn’t mean it will sell 140,000 copies or more just because it’s a dollar less. That’s because fans of Arcade Fire and Arcade Ice are not necessarily fans of both bands. Each band therefore reaches the fans that will purchase their respective albums, and each band’s income will differ — not on a price point but on demand.

Musicians are in the marketplace and there’s a thing called a Demand Curve:

There’s a comment in the Demand Curve article I link to that creates an analogy — “The higher the price of a Kindle is, the less people want to buy it. If the price for a Kindle is to go up drastically, people will buy substitute goods like normal paperbacks, and the demand for ebooks will fall accordingly.”

So underpaid authors should force Amazon to increase the price of the Kindle, right? Oh, wait…

Yelling get off my lawn is not a serious response to a lack of demand.

Dave Allen is the founding member and bass player for Gang of Four ad Shriekback, and is currently Digital Creative Director at North, a Portland-based brand strategy company, where this blog post was first published (along with many other great blog posts).

Filed Under: , , , , , , , ,

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “Musicians On The Wrong Side Of History”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
Anonymous Coward says:

strange how those artists who always condemn the latest technology and how it enables more people to obtain and listen to the music, whether free or paid for, via all manner of aids, such as search engines on the internet or web sites themselves, are very quick to use all the latest technologies to produce their music and use it for distribution, sales streaming, whatever! it’s a typical situation where the latest tech is the dogs bollocks when the artists want to and can use it, but it’s the worst thing that’s been invented/developed after those same artists have used it and dont want anyone else to use it. it sounds like hands and gloves and pots and black to me or give all to me but nothing to anyone else! it’s called being selfish!

PaulT (profile) says:

To give the full context of Mr. Burnett’s ridiculous statement:

“Certainly digital sound has dehumanized us and it’s taken away so much of what we hear, without telling us.”

What a load of crap. No, Mr. Burnett, it has given me access to a wide range of music, some of which your industry deliberately denied to me based on copyright or licensing issues, sometimes based on my location and sometimes based on taste. In return, I have agreed to listen to the music on a slightly lower range of frequency than that which I might have listened to via vinyl on an expensive stereo. That’s OK, because the convenience, portability and accessibility of the portable device I listen to most of my music on would not be possible had vinyl or even CD been the only option.

I certainly was “told” this because I’m not a ignorant of what’s changing. I’ve known for 20 years that MP3 is a lossy format. I’ve gone in with my eyes and ears fully open and know what I’m getting. Why didn’t you?

If you can’t even characterise the industry correctly, then your points will fail to get any sympathy, and more than I have sympathy for someone spreading panic about the telephone or motor vehicle a hundred years ago. You can still ride your horse or hand write your letter if you wish. Similarly, vinyl and CD are also available, as are lossless digital formats. Most people prefer the advantages of the alternative. If you don’t like that, tough.

It’s a shame that people feel the need to completely misrepresent the reality in order to fight it, but I suppose that when the tide is clearly turning, acting like King Canute is still seen as a viable option by some. It never ends well.

Dave Allen (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

yes and no. I’m interested in the rhetoric around this whole subject. The “pitchforks and torches” comment from Mr Burnett simply takes him out of the argument. What I’m seeing more and more from musicians is the blame game. Everything that’s wrong with their careers and now audio is the fault of Silicon Valley operatives. Mr Burnett simply should record in analog – my preference when recording is to use a 2″ 16 track machine and saturate the drums and bass to tape for extra grit. Then move from 16 track to 24 track analog to add overdubs. Then release the product on vinyl only. Digital problem solved.

Meanwhile musicians should take a long, hard look at what music fans are doing everyday…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Erm, if that’s his point, how did studio equipment get replaced with nobody knowing about it? He’l, bands like White Stripes and Soulwax are known for their sound specifically because they stuck older equipment IIRC. He said “without telling us”, how?

Plus, news flash: most people buying the recordings don’t give a shit what it was recorded on

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Oh, and I’ll add – if he means the studio equipment has changed without the listener being informer, since when was the listener actually informed about the studio equipment used? People who listen to music listen to the end product. If the resulting recording is inferior, they’ll complain (see: Metallica’s debacle with St. Anger) but very few people are listening to the new Gaga single and lamenting that the recording quality isn’t as dynamic as Hendrix’s last album.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

You should read the source article. Burnett’s actually talking about recording medium there, -analogue multi tracks v pro-tools/sd11 files.

The “pitchforks and torches” comment certainly was not. Here’s how he describes “Silicon Valley:”

If somebody had come down from Silicon Valley 30 years ago and said “I’ve got this new technology, and you’re gonna be able to see all around the world, transfer your stuff all over the world, you’re gonna be able to send things, you’ll be able to see your friends, you’ll be able to hear music — all you have to do is give up your privacy and your royalties,” everybody would have said, “Get the f— out of town! Right now! Get out of here!” Instead, these guys came down with their shtick, and everybody went “Well, how can we make money from this great new technology?” “Oh, you’re not gonna make money from it. Everything’s gonna be free. Just give us the intellectual property we can send around in our pipes, everybody will subscribe, and then we’ll be rich. Not you, though.” [Laughs.] “Don’t ask us what we’re doing with the money. Just make the stuff and send it to us for free.” That’s how much of a straight-up con it’s been.

It is, of course, 100% total bullshit. Nobody from “Silicon Valley” has ever asked anyone to do anything like that. The closest would be companies like Spotify – who pay 70% of their revenue to rights holders.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Just give us the intellectual property we can send around in our pipes, everybody will subscribe, and then we’ll be rich. Not you, though.

Now I’m curious as to how he sees record labels, as what he just described was, and for the most part still is, their ‘business model’ in a nutshell, where the label would get the copyright of the song, the vast majority of the profits, and if the band was popular enough, they might get some money too.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

“Just make the stuff and send it to us for free.”

That part is all you need to read to know he’s full of shit. Nobody from “silicon valley” has ever asked for such a thing, and most of the companies he appears to be railing against are the ones paying royalties.

The people he’s describing are his own CUSTOMERS. The technologies exist for a huge number of disparate reasons, and you’d have to be some kind of moron to think they only exist because of something related to the music industry. However, some people had discovered that these technologies allowed them to share music – something more people have always done – faster than they had done previously. In some cases, accessing music to which access had always bee denied. The technology allowed them to do this, but is not to blame for any misuse any more than the post office is to blame for a shipment of pirated CDs.

Alas, instead of understanding reality, he chooses to attack the people setting up services that actually pay royalties.

out_of_the_blue says:

Here's a new tagline that covers the Silly-con Valley:

Mike’s notions are all get-rich-quick schemes by using products someone else made. His continued defense of Megaupload shows his ideal “business model”: neither pay to produce nor royalties on any of the files hosted so costs are just above bandwidth, and able to avoid legal liability so long as pretend ignorance of infringed content.

That’s Silly Con Artists trying to get rich off what they didn’t make. They are GRIFTERS. They’ve NO right to force their demands on those who produce. Where I’m forced to choose between producers (of what I regard as mindless and even destructive crap) and grifters who produce nothing, then I side with the producers. The latter don’t force me to buy (while Google forces me to be surveilled), only ask that I respect their property rights in the products.

Nobody in the music biz is saying they’re entitled — as The Rich think they are — to live off laborers and give nothing in return. They’re saying that a new bunch of grifters isn’t entitled to do that, either.

NO ONE is forced to buy music. — NOR are you forced to illegally download and listen to it. If you don’t want to pay the prices asked, the only legal way to inform the market is not buy. It’s NOT a legal nor moral option to go ahead and consume the product without paying.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Here's a new tagline that covers the Silly-con Valley:

“get-rich-quick schemes”

What’s funny is that you’re using this as an attack on the replacements for the major label status quo, which offers one sided contracts and little real profit by people attracted by the promise of being the next Madonna or Jackson.

“using products someone else made”

I wonder, did you use the same arguments against record stores, since that’s all they did. In fact did you use the same attack on distributors, marketers, CD and vinyl pressing plants, printers, etc.? Or is it only not that the boogeyman of the internet is involved that you think this is a bad thing.

“NO ONE is forced to buy music”

Wow, you said something true for once. Now, see if you can accept the fact that piracy is not the only reason why one would choose not to, and why alternative business models might be the way to convinced some to do so.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Here's a new tagline that covers the Silly-con Valley:

The real problem is that the labels are competing with the self publishers for listeners ears. Further if the labels only sell at a volume that allows a self publisher to make a living they do not cover their overheads, never mind make enough to give royalties to the artists. Amazon and the like, which includes spotify, offer a good deal to anyone who self publishes, they get most of the income from sales. When a label is involved, this income goes to the label, and the artist sees a small part of it if they are lucky.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Here's a new tagline that covers the Silly-con Valley:

That’s Silly Con Artists trying to get rich off what they didn’t make.

How is it any different than phonograph manufacturers getting rich from making record players? Both are tools to listen to music.

Also, you seem to have this ignorant notion that creating a web service doesn’t cost anything. Why don’t you pay for Spotfy’s bandwidth for a month and we’ll see what song you are singing then. That doesn’t even take into account the engineers, the programmers, the electricity cost, the servers and the million other incidental costs.

Once again, it’s a pretty weird stance for someone who thinks the sunk costs of a $100 million movie factor into pricing. In this case you are ignoring the all costs of providing a streaming service and claiming they are only “gifting off the artists”.

Robert (profile) says:

Re: Here's a new tagline that covers the Silly-con Valley:

Not consuming (ie: not paying) == not buying in terms of bottom lines!

Products someone else made? Oh you mean like instruments the musicians didn’t make, or the transatlantic cable the musicians didn’t make, or the computer hardware they didn’t make to record their art, or the motor vehicles that drove the printed recordings to the buildings containing the stores that were not created or built by the artists … Works both ways buddy! And before you say anything about paying for those things, the artists now have free distribution, no cuts, as a result of technology. They have reduced their costs, so have the labels, so overhead is now reduced, one would think profits would increase!

Of course you could look at the demographics and that is most bought CD’s to REPLACE cassettes and vinyl. What percentages of new releases each year in each format (from cassette, vinyl, cd, online) for albums are out there? Where’s that data? Right, hidden! Why would someone show that people bought replacements when they are trying to say no one is buying anything new?

And once the replacements have been purchased, why the fuck would they buy it again in digital format where they can only play it on certain devices? Or even unrestricted, if you have a damn CD, why buy the digital version from iTunes? That is idiotic and only an idiot would think such things.

Again, where’s the demographic data showing details of the album sale drops? Hidden!

Finally, digital sales are naturally lower because people are buying less albums because the albums released for many years kept dropping in quality for a large portion of popular music. They were not concepts, entities themselves, they were individual tracks, no meaning, just thrown together, some good and some bad. That’s it. That’s like random notes on the piano and trying to use all the theory you can to give it a chord name.

Maybe the digital sales that were around the past 10 years where the ACTUAL new release levels, what people wanted, though you can’t really prove that because a-la-carte was not available before at the level it is today. It was selected singles or album, not consumer choice of single to purchase.

So you cannot even compare such things.

Now with streaming, people just don’t want to have to transfer files or carry multiple devices around (iPod vs phone vs CD…) they just want one spot where they can get it all. No device required, just Internet access.

Again, reducing costs, no need to store the files on servers in multiple stores or produce varied devices, just produce one device and one data centre – so less license issues too as you don’t need to cover iTunes, Amazon, etc… Though you do have multiple streaming sites, but they allow anywhere on any device!

That’s cheaper for the consumer, so new devices allow such services on them, whether it is a laptop or cell/smart phone or tablet.

The labels were simply loan sharks who targeted artists because few banks would help them. They didn’t create the art, they packaged and delivered it. Now someone else is doing that and some artists are touting the lines of the former packagers.

The new packagers are not fucking grifters! They offer cheaper means of packaging and delivery, much like email to letter mail.

Adapt and move on.

And thanks to Technology, artists can do MORE and have MORE REVENUE STREAMS available, even when some are paying less than the forced-album (if you want to buy it – shy from recording off the radio which the industry tried to kill as well) purchasing.

And finally, more competition is good. Yes good! Cream rises to the top. If you have good art, no one is going to hold you back. It is up to you though to do it yourself or partner with a company that isn’t a media-conglomerate-profit-focused-exploitation-expert.

And don’t forget, your also competing in the live arena against oldies that are not releasing new items, can’t seem to find new fans as a result, are falling into obscurity, and thus have to tour to keep food on their tables. Those are already established artists would could benefit from working with that and networking and trying to become relevant, but that also means creating new art (eg: Matthew Good, Rush).

Or you could just complain and separate yourself from systems that try to help you (eg: Thom Yorke, David Lowery)

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Here's a new tagline that covers the Silly-con Valley:

So I have to wonder. If someone that sells something they didn’t make is a grifter, does that mean you don’t buy your food at a grocery store? You won’t ever buy a used car, or go anywhere other than a factory outlet store for anything you ever need? Dude, most people that sell things? They don’t make the crap they sell. This is a wonderful thing called ‘retail.’

Anonymous Coward says:

"Digital sound has dehumanized us."

This is the exact same idiotic argument that was made against phonographs one hundred years ago. Except instead of stupid blog posts about how computers are destroying the abstract concept of music, it was stupid newspaper columns about how machines would take over and everyone’s vocal chords would shrivel up.

Anonymous Coward says:

I am proudly Luddite if to be so is to criticise the power and destruction of Google etc..

The luddites were protesting the destruction of their craft, hand spinning and weaving. Mr. Burnett’s craft has not been destroyed, just the business model changed so that many more musicians can publish their works; by self publishing. Unlike the luddites, he could change his business model to self publishing, and continue to make a living from music. He would probably have to create more music, but then everybody else has to work or starve.
His real problem is that there is more competition for listeners ears and he is calling for his competitors to be denied entry to the market.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

You also have to understand where he comes from. He is making a living off music and now the sugar daddy is saying that he cannot continue that way. It is a change for his carrier and changes are not something any human will take lightly. Especially if the human doesn’t understand the whole reason for the change (blaming Google kind of lumps sir Yorke in that category no matter what. Quoting Lanier for that only reinforces the point…).

In the more relevant department, Burnett argues that digital release is horrible for sound quality. He may have some point there untill the software he uses can sufficiently compensate. Unfortunately it is a long transition we are going through. Therefore it will still look like good ole days to many artists even though the ship already left that harbor a long time ago.

John Fenderson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Burnett argues that digital release is horrible for sound quality

But this is where he goes wrong. Nothing about digital requires a drop in sound quality. It’s possible to do sampling at such a high sampling rate and dynamic range that the quality exceeds the best of analog systems.

The drop in quality has to do with trying to make the audio files as small as possible, which is something that is getting less important every year.

He’s also falling into the same problem that old-timey software engineers (like myself) often fall into when talking about software quality:

In many ways, software quality is getting worse every year, and the reason for it is a change in economics. CPU cycles are so cheap now that it makes more economic sense to waste them if it saves on development time, and our tools are geared with this in mind.

So nowadays, any given piece of software is several orders of magnitude less efficient than the same software would have been a decade or two ago. it uses more memory, runs slower, etc. You don’t notice because the hardware has become so fast that it more than makes up for this degradation. But think what you could do with the cheapest computer now if software actually used the computing resources in the most efficient way possible!

This loss is real, just as the loss Burnett is talking about is real. Not as an inherent aspect of the technology, but because the economics are different. What Burnett (and my argument) ignores is that there have been gains in addition to the loss. The world is different. Not worse, different.

For Burnett to complain about it is just as silly and meaningless as it is for me to complain about the state of software to people outside of the industry: in the end, the people are getting what they want, and when you’re making something you intend to release into the marketplace, that’s all that matters.

Burnett can ease his mind by deciding what he wants. If he wants his form of artistic purity, nothing and nobody is stopping him. The rest of the world has different values. But to claim that his preference represents some kind objective overall worsening is idiotic.

Jim says:

The Money's in the Concerts, not the CD's

The problem with all of the economic analyses of the music industry is that they ignore the fact, that throughout the modern music era, the bulk of the revenues for each artist, came from concerts, not recorded music sales. That’s the way it’s always been, and still is today. This is consistent the pyramid in the article, that is, the goal is to get an arena full of people (maybe only 15 to 18 K people) in each major market in the country to come out to your concert and drop $150 or so on you.

anonymouse says:

Thank you

Great article, thanks for the good read, and the links you give were also good reads.

I am still amazed that there are people that think the old system of ripping off artists is still going to win over the internet.

Do they copyright monopolists not realsie the world has changed…. while they were trying to stop the future from happening it has bypassed them.

AJ0999 (profile) says:

The artists are right, mostly.

The fact of the matter here is that companies like Spotify, Pandora, et al. are generating revenue from basically giving away other people’s intellectual property. If they paid the artists more, they would go out of business. And many of these companies are not even profitable as it is.

Listeners are getting free or nearly free music, the companies are selling merchandise that they barely pay anything for, and the actual producers get nothing. It’s not a good system.

It is true that the technicalities of the royalties are complicated. These services are like radio, but at the same time, not like radio. And if the major labels go away, which they are slowly doing, there will be more room for independent artists to get noticed and hopefully make a living, keeping a larger cut of their royalties.

But the bottom line is that as things stand now, tech companies ARE screwing artists, as much as the labels ever have. I believe the ultimate reality is that users need to pay more than they’re currently paying for these services. $3.99 a month for ad-free Pandora, or $0 for ad-supported Pandora, is ridiculously low. They need to charge more, and the artists need to get a bigger cut.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: The artists are right, mostly.

“The fact of the matter here is that companies like Spotify, Pandora, et al. are generating revenue from basically giving away other people’s intellectual property”

Wrong. They are generating revenue from supplying a service they have built and supply without any additional work from the artists, presenting content which has been perfectly legally licensed from the labels.

Unless you’re also going to try railing against libraries, radio, TV, etc., you’re aiming for the wrong target.

“tech companies ARE screwing artists, as much as the labels ever have.”

If the royalties Spotify pay to the labels don’t make it to the artists, that’s not the tech industry’s fault.

“the companies are selling merchandise that they barely pay anything for”

Citation needed.

“$3.99 a month for ad-free Pandora, or $0 for ad-supported Pandora, is ridiculously low.”

What about the ?10 (approx $14/month) I pay for Spotify? How much is “enough”? Did you have the same problem with the $0 people pay for ad supported radio? If not why not?

Start addressing reality, people, don’t just come in here nearly a week after the article’s been discussed and try dropping the same tired debunked talking points.

AJ0999 (profile) says:

Re: Re: The artists are right, mostly.

The fault does not lie solely with the tech companies. It also lies with the major labels, and with the copyright and royalty laws that served a bygone era, and have not been rethought to address modern technology.

But I stand by statements, and I think I know more about this subject than you do. Terrestrial radio pays a very different royalty rate than on-demand streaming services, because of the differences in how they work.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: The artists are right, mostly.

“It also lies with the major labels, and with the copyright and royalty laws that served a bygone era, and have not been rethought to address modern technology”

Exactly. So stop whining about the tech industry. The primary problems are with the music industry. Spotify and other tech companies are merely supplying the demand that is not being met elsewhere, and they are doing so legally and by paying for the content they supply.

“I think I know more about this subject than you do”

Sorry, bare assertions do not work. Cite your credentials and why you think this.

“because of the differences in how they work”

Cool, you admit this. So, go on – what specific problems do you have with the royalty rates that are being paid? Why? What is unacceptable about the way they’re set up compared to radio, which charges end users the exact same amount to access it? Why do you think streaming users should be charged more but don’t have the same problem with radio being free? What is your solution, other than forcing them to pay more than is sustainable and thus earning the artists exactly $0 instead of whatever amount you think is too low?

Don’t come in with some crap about “tech companies ARE screwing artists”. State your case.

AJ0999 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 The artists are right, mostly.

“Exactly. So stop whining about the tech industry. The primary problems are with the music industry.”

Your insulting tone is not getting you anywhere. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

“Sorry, bare assertions do not work. Cite your credentials and why you think this.”

I’m a musician. I’ve studied these issues.

“Cool, you admit this. So, go on – what specific problems…(blah blah, rant, etc)”

When a terrestrial radio station plays a song, there can easily be thousands or even millions of people listening simultaneously. There is a royalty rate associated with radio airplay. Streaming audio is counted as a single listener, and the royalty is a tiny fraction of the radio royalty.

“Don’t come in with some crap about “tech companies ARE screwing artists”. State your case.”

Let me rephrase that to be more precise – tech companies are taking advantage of artists, by exploiting their work and not paying them for it, or paying them peanuts.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 The artists are right, mostly.

“Your insulting tone is not getting you anywhere.”

Really? That was insulting to you? Sorry, I didn’t realise you were such a delicate flower.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

So you claim. Yet, you refuse to back it up. I wonder why that is.

“I’m a musician. I’ve studied these issues.”

So cite your credentials. Or is asking for proof now “insulting”? Sorry dude, “I’m right and you’re wrong” is not an argument, especially when you refuse to state what your actual argument is. You’re trying to argue from authority rather than debate the facts – so, what’s your authority?

“When a terrestrial radio station plays a song, there can easily be thousands or even millions of people listening simultaneously.”

I’ve asked this question many times, but self-proclaimed experts like yourself refuse to answer it. So, let’s try again:

What, in terms of royalties, is the difference between a record station playing a song once to 100,000 people and playing the song on Spotify 100,000 times to people who request it?

Either way, it’s 100,000 listens. So why should the royalty rate be massively different for one compared to the other? Please, explain yourself with citations for any figures.

“Let me rephrase that to be more precise – tech companies are taking advantage of artists, by exploiting their work and not paying them for it, or paying them peanuts.”

They pay according to the contracts they have with the record labels, and there’s plenty of stories to prove that the labels are screwing artists both inside and outside of internet deals (by, for example, paying “licences” instead of sales where they sell a copy of a song).

Again, why are you so obsessed with attacking the tech industry when they’re legally abiding with what they’re required to pay? Citations, please.

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...