Teen Musician Turns Down $3 Million Record Deal: No Need For A Label Thanks To The Internet

from the thanks,-internet dept

There's a pretty fascinating profile last week in Billboard magazine of teenage musician/rapper NLE Choppa who just turned down a $3 million record label deal. Choppa (real name: Bryson Potts) rocketed to fame thanks to YouTube, where his Shotta Flow video was uploaded just last month, but has over 10 million views.

When given the chance to sign with a bunch of different labels all bidding for him, he decided to take a very different deal -- one where he retains all the rights and just partners with a distribution company, UnitedMasters:

Within a month, Choppa, whose real name is Bryson Potts, had sparked a bidding war among record companies like Republic, Interscope and Caroline, with bids reaching as high as $3 million. This kind of story is familiar: Young, local rapper goes viral; labels pounce. But this week, the rapper tells Billboard, he turned down those offers to enter a distribution partnership with UnitedMasters, Steve Stoute’s independent distribution company, without an advance and while retaining full ownership of his master recordings.

And why doesn't he need a full on record label deal? Because of the internet and all of the various internet services out there that are already making him wealthy:

Stoute says that when the “Shotta Flow” music video caught the eye of UnitedMasters’ A&R team last month, he immediately reached out to Choppa and the rapper's mother, who was acting as his manager, offering distribution for the song. Choppa agreed. “Then, record companies are calling the guy and offering a bunch of money,” Stoute tells Billboard. “Here’s the issue: He’s already just seen, with him owning the rights and us doing distribution, he’s earning money on Spotify and Apple Music, and his song is growing on YouTube. What does he need a record company to do?”

Let's repeat that for those of you who are a bit slow in class:

He’s already just seen, with him owning the rights and us doing distribution, he’s earning money on Spotify and Apple Music, and his song is growing on YouTube. What does he need a record company to do?

Just last week we were talking about how many independent artists are embracing the internet to avoid the legacy gatekeepers.

Meanwhile, bureaucrats and recording industry lobbyists keep insisting that the EU needs Article 13 because the internet is unfair to artists? They're saying that there's a "value gap" because of YouTube? Maybe, just maybe, Article 13 has a lot more to do with the fact that the labels are losing relevance. When an artist like Choppa can retain his rights, build a massive audience, and make a ton of money thanks to internet platforms and does not need a label or all the downsides of a label deal, it certainly suggests that the "problem" Article 13 is claiming to solve might not be an actual problem. Indeed, the real "problem" that Article 13 seems to solve is the fact that the labels aren't needed as much any more. And that's not actually a problem for anyone who isn't, you know, a record label.

Filed Under: article 13, bryson potts, copyright, internet, nle choppa, record labels, shotta flow
Companies: unitedmasters


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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 8:06am

    '...I need you WHY again?'

    “Here’s the issue: He’s already just seen, with him owning the rights and us doing distribution, he’s earning money on Spotify and Apple Music, and his song is growing on YouTube. What does he need a record company to do?”

    I'd say this serves as an excellent example as to why certain parties were/are pushing so hard for Article 13: Because open platforms like those listed allows creators to completely bypass them, making them irrelevant, since they refuse to adapt and transition from gatekeeper to enabler.

    Open platforms like those listed allow anyone to throw their stuff out there, to build up a fanbase, and to sell their stuff, all of this without 'advances' with terms that would make the most predatory loan-shark shake their head, requirements of handing over the rights to works, or otherwise terrible(for the creator) terms being required.

    Open platforms give creators options, such that it's no longer a case of 'If you want to be heard/make money from your stuff, you're going through us, and as such we dictate the terms.' Now creators can go it on their own and simply use certain companies to shore up areas where they might be weak/may not want to deal with like distribution, without having to sign everything over in the process.

    For the gatekeepers of before this risks putting them out of business, both in keeping people from foolishly signing with them and providing a lever for those already signed to potentially use to get better terms for their contracts. Given that is it any wonder they've sunk to attempting mass-extortion, straight up mafia style protection racket? 'Nice platform you got there, be a shame if someone were to upload the wrong thing. 'Course, you pay us a 'reasonable fee' and I'm sure that won't be a problem.'

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:09am

      Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

      YouTube acts as his music publisher and pays 68 percent to its creators. 10 million views at $1.50 CPM would be about $15,000. Not sure what he's making on Spotify or Apple but the deal he was offered was solid. The public has given more credibility to self-publishing, a bit later in the game.

      Article 13 wouldn't be an issue for YouTube since they license the content and pay most of the revenue to the creator.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:55am

        Re: Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

        Article 13 wouldn't be an issue for YouTube since they license the content and pay most of the revenue to the creator.

        Article 13 makes the platform responsible for any infringing content that appears on it, with punitive damages for any mistake. One intent of the article is to force sites to pre-filter any content posted by their users; or possible. It is possible that the legacy industries will offer a license to the big Internet sites to cover accidental appearance of infringing content. Either way, it make life more difficult for independents, by closing sites, or diverting part of their income to the legacy industries.

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      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 12:11pm

        Re: Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

        Just... no. Youtube acts as a platform, not a publisher. Their involvement is almost entirely automatic, where they provide the platform for others to post videos/music, if things are monetized they take a cut, but otherwise they aren't involved. When's the last time you saw a label offered anything remotely similar?

        Not sure what he's making on Spotify or Apple but the deal he was offered was solid.

        He apparently thought differently, and for good reason. They weren't offering three million out of generosity, any deal would have been riddled with hooks and clauses to ensure that the labels would come out well ahead from the deal. As noted in the article, he was already doing just fine on his own, what did he need them for that would have been worth the price he'd pay?

        Article 13 wouldn't be an issue for YouTube since they license the content and pay most of the revenue to the creator.

        This is so far beyond wrong I'm not sure if I should be laughing or facepalming. YT does not 'license the content' for everything on the platform, and if they had to do that, which is the goal of the attempted protection-racket that is Article 13 the site, and more importantly those that use it like the one in this very article, are going to be seriously negatively impacted.

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          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 12:46pm

          Re: Re: Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

          Any user who monetizes YouTube consent is licensing it to them.

          They pay well and protect against piracy, with or without Article 13. Distribution is key, and that's also why Article 13 is good, in that it makes piracy difficult except for the people willing to seek out underground copies.

          I once tested a model where I offered a recording free if someone was willing to wait four weeks for it, or they could just pay a small fee to get it immediately. That seemed to work.

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          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 1:23pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

            I once tested a model where I offered a recording free if someone was willing to wait four weeks for it, or they could just pay a small fee to get it immediately. That seemed to work.

            Ah, it's you, the king of pulling stuff from your ass. Yeah, not going to waste further time with someone incapable of honest discussions.

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 1:34pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

            YouTube does NOT pay well- that's what Article 13 is all about, despite what you've read here.

            This article doesn't tell us anything new, it just seems like it wants to crank on record labels. Once again, for the slow guy that wrote the article, no one forces any musician to sign with a label. They do it because they want to, and because they want help, both financial and promotional.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 1:51pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

              YouTube does NOT pay well

              And the many stars on Youtube making thousands, in some cases millions are, what, hallucinations?

              that's what Article 13 is all about

              Really? I thought it was about holding innocent platforms liable for copyright infringement committed by their users. Did I miss something?

              no one forces any musician to sign with a label

              Not anymore. But before the internet, that was about the only way you were likely to make money as an artist.

              They do it because they want to, and because they want help, both financial and promotional.

              Which are now both freely and cheaply available through the magic of the internet, no record labels required. {jazz hands}

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              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 2:43pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

                Before the internet, lots of things were different; Reagan was President, the Soviet Union was still around, there were a lot more arcades...

                WHO CARES

                we're talking about the past 20 years, not "before the internet"

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 5:04pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

                  Before the Internet there was also "Home Taping is Killing Music".

                  Which didn't happen.

                  I think it's worth reinforcing that after the music industry screamed about how they were dying irreparably and continue to boast record profits, the general public should take their claims with a grain of salt. Or the whole shaker.

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                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 5:23pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

                  WHO CARES we're talking about the past 20 years, not "before the internet"

                  Yes, and now there is absolutely no reason to sign with a label whatsoever. That is my point. They are, in a word: obsolete, irrelevant, antiquated, outmoded, archaic, anachronistic, dinosaurs.

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                  • icon
                    Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Feb 2019 @ 6:54am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

                    "Yes, and now there is absolutely no reason to sign with a label whatsoever. That is my point. They are, in a word: obsolete, irrelevant, antiquated, outmoded, archaic, anachronistic, dinosaurs."

                    But hey, that's what article 13 is for, right?

                    Because after that one passes, although "piracy" won't be affected and no one has been able to show rampant infringement on the affected platforms, it certainly won't be safe for those platforms to open up to legal musicians any longer.

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            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 2:53pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

              YouTube does NOT pay well- that's what Article 13 is all about,

              Wrong, it is about the legacy Industries regaining their share of the income from all published content, and it will most definitely benefit the self publishers, who will find a signifiant part of what was their income going to the gatekeepers.

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            • icon
              techflaws (profile), 22 Feb 2019 @ 10:03pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

              "YouTube does NOT pay well"

              [citation needed]

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              • icon
                PaulT (profile), 23 Feb 2019 @ 1:24am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

                Well that is true if you compare the revenue from individual streams to purchases, which these idiots regularly do without grasping why they will never get the same revenue

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          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 22 Feb 2019 @ 1:10am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

            "That seemed to work."

            You think that artificially blocking people from accessing something will stop piracy rather than drive people to it? I'm curious, how is Bizarro doing nowadays?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 12:52pm

          Re: Re: Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

          They weren't offering three million out of generosity, any deal would have been riddled with hooks and clauses to ensure that the labels would come out well ahead from the deal.

          That would probably turn out to be a staged advance, i.e. loan, which he never manages to pay off, so the 3 million would be his maximum lifetime earning from his recorded music.

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          • icon
            That One Guy (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 1:14pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

            Worse, oh so much worse. Record label contracts have been covered on TD in the past, and to call them 'one-sided' is a gross understatement(I was not kidding when I made the loan-shark comparison above). Given how they are put together the record label can make back the 'advance' several times over before the artist sees a dime from their work, and even then the label tends to get a large, if not majority, of the cut.

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          • icon
            PaulT (profile), 22 Feb 2019 @ 1:31am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

            "That would probably turn out to be a staged advance, i.e. loan, which he never manages to pay off"

            Also, he'd likely be bound by terms that stifle his creativity or destroy his career in the long run. For example - artists are regularly blocked from collaborations because their labels don't agree and their contracts forbid them from working outside the label, albums not released because the label don't think they'll sell, yet the artists are still bound to deliver a minimum number of releases (this is why you see so many "best of" and live albums from artists with a couple of albums under their belt), and so on.

            Once you get into the actual reasons why artists often don't "recoup", it's a depressing set of games from the labels to leech as much as possible without giving anything beyond their initial investment to the artist, while preventing them from releasing any competing work.

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          • icon
            Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Feb 2019 @ 6:55am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

            "That would probably turn out to be a staged advance, i.e. loan, which he never manages to pay off, so the 3 million would be his maximum lifetime earning from his recorded music."

            Looking at the current model of artist contracts, those 3 million won't be an earning either.

            Last i checked a loan with usury and blackmail attached as riders isn't "income".

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 25 Feb 2019 @ 8:11am

      Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

      This is an article on Patreon and how most artists fail with their "hope labor."

      https://medium.com/@saulofhearts/the-perils-of-hope-labor-how-patreon-is-failing-starvi ng-artists-142f8e8ea805

      Rather than enforce copyright and make people either pay for creative works or do without, we've got artists working for almost nothing (for now).

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      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 25 Feb 2019 @ 8:27am

        Re: Re: '...I need you WHY again?'

        "we've got artists working for almost nothing"

        ...and that's different to the rest of history, how? The cliche of the starving artist exists for a reason.

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  • icon
    Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 8:09am

    Distributor or marketer?

    So what does the distributor actually do in this case? Is there some kind of wall at Spotify and Apple Music or others that prevent independents from gaining access? Then what does the distributor have that an independent artist does not? Or is the purpose of a distributor more along the lines of marketing? If a mere distributor can do these things for an independent artist, then what is it that a label offers that differs?

    I also wonder how the distributor is compensated? A percentage, a fixed fee, and what do those amount to?

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    • identicon
      Rocky, 21 Feb 2019 @ 9:41am

      Re: Distributor or marketer?

      So what does the distributor actually do in this case?

      On a hunch it's what they don't do:

      • They don't take a large cut of revenue from the sales
      • They don't insert themselves into the creative process demanding changes because demographic research show that <demographic type A> likes <different style of music>.
      • Tie the artist to a contract demanding X albums over Y years.
      • Tie the artist to exclusivity clauses which means that the artist can't switch labels until he has produced and released X albums and if they get huffy they don't produce and release any more albums.
      • Screw over the artists revenue share because of <other type of performance license> isn't covered in the contract.

      I'm sure there are other things that fit the bill, but you get the gist of it...

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 9:50am

      Re: Distributor or marketer?

      I'd imagine a distributor could take care of all sorts of things.

      The distributor could help the artist register the copyright on the songwriting. The distributor might have a studio to record the music and do a more professional job of mixing it. Even if the artist did all of the registration, recording, and mixing, a distributor would be able to press CDs in large quantities for much cheaper (and in a better quality) than burning CD-Rs. There may not be a "wall" preventing independents from getting access to digital music platforms, but a distributor would almost certainly have fewer hoops to jump through to convince Apple or Spotify that it would be worth their while to add the music to their catalogue, and would have assurances that it would be arriving with the proper tags and format.

      I doubt a distributor would do marketing; I'd think that would be the main distinction between a distributor and a record label.

      I doubt that compensation would be completely fixed (it does take more money to press more CDs), but I doubt it would be a large cut, and certainly not as large a cut as a label would take.

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    • identicon
      TFG, 21 Feb 2019 @ 9:57am

      Re: Distributor or marketer?

      For the distributor in question, they've answered most of these questions themselves:

      https://unitedmasters.com/faqs

      From the FAQ, it looks like UnitedMaster provides a streamlined platform for upload and tagging and etc., and they handle the actual distribution to platforms like Spotify and Youtube.

      For compensation:

      "What does it cost to distribute music with UnitedMasters? Do you charge a fee or split revenue?

      There are no upfront fees to get started with UnitedMasters. However for tracks you distribute with us, we take a 10% share of revenue."

      So a flat 10% of revenue for the convenience of the platform and the assured distribution to major platforms, without any upfront costs, and the musician keeps full creative control. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal compared to the record label alternatives.

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      • identicon
        Bruce C., 21 Feb 2019 @ 10:36am

        Re: Re: Distributor or marketer?

        A good distributor should also have pre-authorization to register works in Content-ID and other automated systems, if the artist wants to go that route. An individual creator wanting in on Content-ID has a lot more hoops to jump through.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:45am

        Re: Re: Distributor or marketer?

        What they do probably looks a lot like what people THINK record labels do.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 1:40pm

        Re: Re: Distributor or marketer?

        Distrokid is better, IMO

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        • icon
          Samuel Abram (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 6:16pm

          Re: Re: Re: Distributor or marketer?

          I use CDBaby and am very happen to it. BTW, I'm releasing Tunes From The Public Domain tomorrow on bandcamp and everywhere else (spotify, iTunes, etc.) I'm also having a Twitch livestream tomorrow at Noon EST. Here's the Twitch url: https://www.twitch.tv/ironcurtainyc

          BTW, I usually don't spam like this at TechDirt, but I think it's really important, especially that I'm going to release an album of material from the Public Domain in a year where there is finally new works added thereto. So I thought all of you would be interested!

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    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 10:15am

      Re: Distributor or marketer?

      A distributor handles a number of business side neccesities in dealing with music distribution. While contracts are pretty standard today, and these services rarely need you to have a specific person to handle contract negotiation, a distributor will take the time to ensure your music is on these services, they will reconcile and audit payments. They can negotiate licencing deals for your music with the royalty associations (BMI, ASCAP, ECT). They can negotiate use of your music in larger works, like commercials or appearing in TV and Film.

      A distributor Handles that business side of distribution that a label offers, while a label also offers marketing (of the talents they want to) including radio play, and a studio for quality recordings, as well as a staff who can assist with studio use. You will note that largely, the extra features of a label are not ones that are necessarily valuable or always needed in the modern era, which is why a distributor, an agent to handle business transactions while the artist works on the creative side, is valuable while a label is seen as less so.

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    • icon
      rangda (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:02am

      Re: Distributor or marketer?

      Think of them as the equivalent of a personal assistant. They do all the minutia and handle the details freeing you up to do stuff like make music and interact with your fans.

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      • icon
        Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Feb 2019 @ 7:00am

        Re: Re: Distributor or marketer?

        "Think of them as the equivalent of a personal assistant. They do all the minutia and handle the details freeing you up to do stuff like make music and interact with your fans."

        They even, looking at Sony's leaked contracts, govern your public image, which performances you are ALLOWED to do, to what extent you're allowed to create music, and whether or not you're allowed to have a significant other.

        They even deal with handling & owning 99% of what you earn, freeing you from the cumbersome process of deciding what to do with your money.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 5:27pm

      Re: Distributor or marketer?

      If a mere distributor can do these things for an independent artist, then what is it that a label offers that differs?

      A distributor works for the artist, who can sack them if they want, without losing control over their works.

      A label takes control over their works, and they are expected to work for the label attending promotion event and going on TV shows. If the artists break up with the label, their works stay under control of the label, and can effectively be taken off of the market..

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  • identicon
    Anon, 21 Feb 2019 @ 9:53am

    How much?

    Given the complaints a year or two ago about how little streaming on Spotify etc. pays - how much is this guy actually probably making?

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    • identicon
      kallethen, 21 Feb 2019 @ 10:11am

      Re: How much?

      Likely a good amount more than if he was under a record label.

      All the hoopla about artists not getting a lot of money from Spotify ignored the fact that Spotify actually pays out a large chunk... which then goes to the music companies who each take their chunks out leaving a tiny fragment left over for the artist. And that's all done via contracts between the artist and the music companies which Spotify has no control over.

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    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 10:18am

      Re: How much?

      Enough that he doesn't think a 3 million advance is worth the loss of financial and creative control of his music. In the end, what does it matter the actual dollar amount.

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      • identicon
        ANON, 21 Feb 2019 @ 1:18pm

        Re: Re: How much?

        In the end, what does it matter the actual dollar amount.

        Well, if he's making $50,000 a year, then $3M is a big deal. If he's making, say, $500,000 then he can afford to ignore $3M as he has a pretty good income already.

        But yes, the question (which he may be too biased to answer) is staying power. There are those artists from the 70's and 80's who are still pulling in a lot of money, their songs play on radio and streaming all the time. They probably would be happy to have full creative control and the revenue that comes with it. Someone whose songs disappear into the "mediocre" bucket and no longer play anywhere, taking the money and run would have been a better strategy.

        I have no idea how well 90's rap still pays, for example?

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 1:30pm

          Re: Re: Re: How much?

          Someone whose songs disappear into the "mediocre" bucket and no longer play anywhere, taking the money and run would have been a better strategy.

          Well, the thing is, now with the internet, you never have to worry about your songs "not playing anywhere" because you don't have legacy gatekeeper companies deciding what will and will not be played on the air. Now it's all up to individual choice with the likelihood you won't ever become "completely" forgotten and always have the chance of rediscovery.

          Magical, isn't it?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 12:01pm

      Re: How much?

      Like kallethen said, the whole "spotify doesn't pay enough" was misleading. They paid plenty, it was just the labels and groups that were paid did not distribute the funds to the artists in a manner those artists felt they deserved, but was within contracts I'm sure.

      I read an article once about a guy who would search generic terms on spotify, like wood park bench, and if nothing returned he would make a short little song about said topic and upload it himself. after about a year of uploading tons of non-sense, started bringing in decent chunks of cash.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 1:16pm

      Re: How much?

      At least as much or more than 3 million to turn down a deal like that.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 22 Feb 2019 @ 2:20am

      Re: How much?

      "Given the complaints a year or two ago about how little streaming on Spotify etc. pays - how much is this guy actually probably making?"

      If he's turning down the offer of millions to continue working independently, the answer is "enough".

      Also, he's probably intelligent enough to understand that the direct stream revenue is only one aspect of a fully rounded business model in the modern era, unlike the people who falsely try to compare rentals & purchases and then pretend that there's no other revenue stream.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 10:00am

    Article 13 should be called retro act 13 , Lets go back to the 80,.s When if you wanted to reach a mass audience you had to sign a contract, hand over your master recordings
    to the record company . You had to go through a legacy gatekeeper . Maybe make money by touring and hope you dont get ripped
    of when it comes to getting paid royaltys . Now in 2019 an artist can hold on to all his rights, reach an audience on youtube, sign up with a streaming
    music service and maybe sell cds, or go on a tour
    if you have a large fan base . Maybe the eu should bring in a law every car should have a cd player and a 8 track player installed , only songs sold on cd or vinyl can be listed in the official charts , just to help out the old legacy companys .

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  • identicon
    Drunk Uncle sam, 21 Feb 2019 @ 10:11am

    Should we expect the introduction of a bill to outlaw individuals from doing exactly what this guy is doing? Perhaps it will be to save the children from the evil internet. A license will be required and you will not get one.

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:07am

      Re:

      What do you think Article 13 is but that? No open platform means they'd never had made it to this point, and they'd have had no choice but to sign one of those 'contracts' the labels were offering if they wanted to get their music out and possibly get anything from it.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 21 Feb 2019 @ 10:21am

    So what?

    He picked a different distribution path. This one is not likely to maximize expected earnings for him. And the maximization of earnings is the metric capitalism accepts as universal and that matters at large scale, and sustainable operation schemes have to end up working at large scale.

    If you accept the premises and metrics of capitalism, exceptions of the also-works variant are not valid. "I can accept schemes that make me as a successful artist live on $100k a year easily" is nice but does not generalize if you could make a grab for $500k by picking the well-trodden path. It's as irrelevant as people voluntarily heeding a suggested rather than mandated speed limit.

    I mean, we get the chant "it's for the artist" for extending copyright protection to durations where the people profiting from it are pretty certainly not yet born by the time the artist dies. Not grabbing as much as you can, even if you will never be able to use it yourself, is a sign of weakness.

    As long as you don't get people to rethink the metrics, the choices of such artists are not just foolish but invalid.

    It's not actually new. Recommended reading "Burning Daylight" by Jack London, with a protagonist running after gold in the times of the gold rush and eventually being successful. And he finally figures out that it's not he who owns the money, but the money that owns him.

    Of course that is from the beginning of the twentieth century, but the basic problem that is painted with a somewhat crude brush remains current. People who "arbitrarily" don't make the choices maximizing profit are not setting relevant examples as long as their metrics don't match what society considers the most desirable outcome for an individual.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 10:31am

      Re: So what?

      How does reaching the same people via a distributor as he would via a label and then keeping 90% of the revenue as well as full rights to his music not equate to maximizing profits? Do you think before you type?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        David, 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:14am

        Re: Re: So what?

        Take a look what successful "superstars" get when promoted in the standard manner. Not in terms of percentages, but in terms of actual payout. When this guy will choose to finally sell his "full rights to his music" after all, they will be worth a lot less due to potential buyers already having gotten their fill. Also because labels would rather make an example of him than providing a "happy ending". He is still rare enough that using him as a scarecrow might be more profitable than marketing him as an artist.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 12:03pm

          Re: Re: Re: So what?

          afaik, musicians make their "fortunes" from touring not record sales.

          In addition, most really successful artists create their own record label in order to side step the vultures.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Toom1275 (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 1:16pm

          Re: Re: Re: So what?

          Take a look what successful "superstars" get when promoted in the standard manner.

          Pennies, after a decade or two of waiting.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 1:38pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: So what?

            Yes, that's why the Beatles, who didn't tour after 1966, were so poor.

            Oh wait

            The Beatles weren't poor, they actually got very rich from record royalties, and you're a complete fucking moron.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 2:58pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So what?

              Ever though that they got rich through their previous touring, and that their (dis)satisfaction with the record labels was such that they created Apple Records in 1968. If the if record label was rewarding them so well, why did the go to all the effort and expense involved in forming their own record label.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              Toom1275 (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 3:24pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So what?

              Lyle Lovett- Albums sold: 46m Album royalties: $0

              30 Seconds to Mars - Albums sold: 2M Album royalties $0

              Spinal Tap - Income from music sales from 1981-2008: $98.00

              Lester Chambers - Payment for 10 of his 17 albums: $0

              Roy Thomas Baker, producer for Guns & Roses, Journey, and Ozzy Osbourne - Royalties underreported by over $475k

              Glee CD hits #1 spot on Billboard Top 200 - Star MarK Salling gets $0 Co-star Cory Montieth gets $400.00

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • icon
              PaulT (profile), 22 Feb 2019 @ 3:40am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So what?

              You're right - there's no possible way that the literal best selling musicians of all time might be an outlier, and exception that proves rather than disproves the rule. Obviously, the experience of most successful band in history reflects the experience of every other musicians.

              /s

              Oh, and did you know that while they didn't tour as a band after that, they all continued to tour and otherwise work in various different ways capitalising on their work as a band, rather than sitting back and demanding that they get paid for doing nothing?

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2019 @ 8:01am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: So what?

              Spoiler Alert

              The Beatles had their own record company, which paid them from the proceeds/royalties as they so desired. I do not think this is considered to be "promoted in the standard manner" which is what you so profusely responded to. Standard manner would be signing up with a record label, sorta the topic here, that you do not own and let them skim off the top maybe even keep everything.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 1:25pm

          Re: Re: Re: So what?

          When this guy will choose to finally sell his "full rights to his music" after all, they will be worth a lot less due to potential buyers already having gotten their fill.

          Or, he could keep the rights to his music and continue to make more money off his work than a record label would be willing to ever pay for it. You know, kind of like what he's doing now. :)

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 1:33pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: So what?

            Especially as if you sell out to a label, they decide whether to keep your work on the market or not, and if the refuse to sell copies, you have no income from the recording.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Feb 2019 @ 7:08am

          Re: Re: Re: So what?

          "Take a look what successful "superstars" get when promoted in the standard manner. "

          In 99% of the cases, almost nothnig. There's a reason that no one wants to be the guy winning the sony-sponsored "Idol" shows any longer, since that brings a de facto sony contract with it.

          Those winners are all dead and gone after six weeks. The runner ups (second and third) often have successful careers many years afterwards, not being hogtied to a major label.

          Every other superstar to make it lastingly big...funnily enough, they often have their own label which may be the reason WHY they're making it big.

          "Also because labels would rather make an example of him than providing a "happy ending"."

          So in other words the labels are saying "Nice career you've got there. Shame if something were to happen with it..."? Tell us again whether you were arguing FOR or AGAINST the labels?

          Because in my book, it's never wise to voluntarily join up with the extortionist.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 1:24pm

      Re: So what?

      This one is not likely to maximize expected earnings for him

      Got any data to back that up? Are you some sort of prognosticator that you can know this?

      And the maximization of earnings is the metric capitalism accepts as universal and that matters at large scale, and sustainable operation schemes have to end up working at large scale.

      No. Just no. That's not how any of this works.

      If you accept the premises and metrics of capitalism

      Not your definition I don't.

      I mean, we get the chant "it's for the artist" for extending copyright protection to durations where the people profiting from it are pretty certainly not yet born by the time the artist dies.

      Which is why nobody here is for extending copyright beyond the death of the artist.

      Not grabbing as much as you can, even if you will never be able to use it yourself, is a sign of weakness.

      No, that's a sign of straight up greed and is quite telling about your true motives. Plenty of people don't care about "maximizing their profits", they are out to make a good product. Profits are secondary, if that. Some people just do it because they like it.

      As long as you don't get people to rethink the metrics, the choices of such artists are not just foolish but invalid.

      Only if you're trying to protect the old school record labels and studios. If you're not, well, then it makes much more sense what he did. He chose the better deal. Adapt or get over it.

      People who "arbitrarily" don't make the choices maximizing profit are not setting relevant examples as long as their metrics don't match what society considers the most desirable outcome for an individual.

      So we're supposed to judge ourselves and our success based on what other people think we should do? You're a hoot. Pro-gamers likely got told in their teens they could never make money playing video games, that's just kid stuff, you'll grow out of it. Who's laughing now that those same gamers are raking in millions each year?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 2:10pm

      Re: So what?

      "I can accept schemes that make me as a successful artist live on $100k a year easily" is nice but does not generalize if you could make a grab for $500k by picking the well-trodden path.

      $100k/year is better than $500k, after five years.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        PaulT (profile), 22 Feb 2019 @ 4:01am

        Re: Re: So what?

        Probably before that depending on taxes and how well the person manages their money.

        But it doesn't surprise me that the industry cheerleader doesn't look for long term benefits when there's a cash grab he can get if only he kills that goose.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    ECA (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 10:33am

    WHAT would be great...

    Is for the person to hand us a copy of the contract the corps TRIED to get him to sign,, That would be greaaate. Show the world the contracts a corp will get you to sign/sing..

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Michael, 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:17am

      Re: WHAT would be great...

      That's not how it works. Contracts aren't written beforehand. An offer is made, the offer is accepted, and THEN a contract is drawn up for lawyers to verify. This is literally how any major contract works. Buying a house or car is the same. Employment is the same.

      Did you really think that they send the kid a contract? Have you ever SEEN a contract? They're dense legalese.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 12:06pm

        Re: Re: WHAT would be great...

        Most employment is on a non contract basis, perhaps there is a new trend where minimum wage workers must sign NDA, non-compete and an employment contract?

        That's messed up.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Mason Wheeler (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 12:53pm

          Re: Re: Re: WHAT would be great...

          Huh?

          Even my first job out of high school, working fast food, I had contracts and papers to sign to make my employment legal.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2019 @ 8:07am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: WHAT would be great...

            Specifically, what sort of "contract" did you sign? Was it acknowledging the uniform they let you wear and that it is your responsibility to keep it clean? That sort of thing? Or is it maybe the ridiculous on demand economy thing - do they require a contract for that crap?

            I was unaware that things had devolved to the point where minimum wage workers are held to contractual requirements like some highly paid workers with access to sensitive corp material.

            Like I said, that's messed up.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2019 @ 8:50am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: WHAT would be great...

              I was unaware that things had devolved to the point where minimum wage workers are held to contractual requirements like some highly paid workers with access to sensitive corp material.

              I'm sorry, I thought it was standard practice and common knowledge for employers to make all their employees sign an employee code of conduct, dress code, NDA of company specific operation/information etc... contract prior to entering into employment. As well as other legal docs required by federal, state, and local government (e.g. terms of employment, waivers, W4s, benefits, etc...)

              But more to your point, before you are legally allowed to work or be employed anywhere in the US, you have to sign a basic employment contract stating that you agree to work XYZ company for X wage (hourly or salaried) and that you and the company will abide by certain agreed upon terms of employment, including, but not limited to, abiding by federal, state, and local labor laws.

              If you want to consider that messed up, that's completely within your rights. But that doesn't change that that is reality. I am curious where you have worked that hasn't required you to sign any sort of a terms of employment contract before.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
    identicon
    Doctor Burnout, 21 Feb 2019 @ 10:51am

    Youtube not so reliable as going to prison for drugs in 50s-70s

    You would think, from Masnick rabbiting on yet again, that no artists ever came to notice without the studio system or before teh internets.

    What I state in subject line was well-known joke, even put in songs by those who used that "system".

    Anyhoo, all ya got here is by some combination of talent, perseverance, and luck got noticed, after which it's easy.

    Yes, you don't need the studios to promote you if already known. -- Or have even more luck, like, say, talentless "Nicolas Cage" whose father is Francis Coppola, or horrid little strumpet Miley Cyrus after Pop put in a lot of the non-luck elements.

    Also one-in-thousands anomaly. As you pointed out recently, most Youtube "stars" get 400 bucks a year.

    My bet is that this person burns out on drugs and disappears soon, instead of like Johnny Cash doing that first, recovering, and then working HARD for 50 years. -- Especially if without professional handler to keep him working and make him save money for after his likely even quicker disappearance.


    Speaking of luck: where would YOU be if parents hadn't paid for Ivy League? Wouldn't even have a van to park down by the river.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 10:56am

      Re: Why you still here bro?

      So you’re down to speculating on what might happen with drugs in twenty year because you have no actual point. That’s pathetic even by your sad, sad, standards.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      TFG, 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:57am

      Doctor Burnout is for Entertainment Purposes Only

      Wild assertions and diatribes again, Mr. Winner? Got any new material, or are you all washed up?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 1:14pm

      Re: Youtube not so reliable as going to prison for drugs in 50s-

      no artists ever came to notice without the studio system or before teh internets.

      Not "no artists" but an extremely rare few, yes. If you believe otherwise I'm sure you can provide an equally long list of independent artists that made it big prior to the internet equivalent in number and money made to studio signed artists?

      Anyhoo, all ya got here is by some combination of talent, perseverance, and luck got noticed, after which it's easy.

      Isn't that every artist ever? Including those signed by studios? Why do we need studios again?

      Yes, you don't need the studios to promote you if already known.

      Or if you're unknown. Funny thing, you can promote yourself for free all over the world using the magic of, wait for it, the internet!

      Also one-in-thousands anomaly.

      Got citations for that? Because the millions of artists out there making money on the internet would probably disagree with you.

      As you pointed out recently, most Youtube "stars" get 400 bucks a year.

      Foul on the play! DB claims things were said that were not said. Neither Mike nor anyone else said they only make 400 a year. You did. Everyone else told you you were wrong and proceeded to explain why.

      Most Youtube "stars" (you know, the really famous and popular ones) make their living off Youtube, meaning they make quite a bit more than 400 a year. Also, that was an average of all creators across a variety of platforms. As I stated before, many make much more than, some make less, but as is the case with an "average", it doesn't too many poor data points to drag the whole average down quite a lot.

      My bet is that this person burns out on drugs and disappears soon

      What, can't stand that he actually proved you wrong so you just have to attack him personally now? You're a sad and pathetic human being.

      Especially if without professional handler to keep him working and make him save money for after his likely even quicker disappearance.

      Oh yes because individual people are incapable of saving money on their own, they have to have someone to force them to do it. The majority of the American population would like to have a word with you.

      Speaking of luck: where would YOU be if parents hadn't paid for Ivy League? Wouldn't even have a van to park down by the river.

      And back to personal attacks with no facts or data to back them up or respond to the discussion at hand. Be gone.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 1:18pm

        Re: Re: Youtube not so reliable as going to prison for drugs in

        And back to personal attacks with no facts or data to back them up or respond to the discussion at hand. Be gone.

        What makes this particular insult of their's extra funny is how absurd it is, as though being educated is a flaw and/or something to be ashamed of. Funny, and telling.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Scary Devil Monastery (profile), 22 Feb 2019 @ 7:21am

          Re: Re: Re: Youtube not so reliable as going to prison for drugs

          "What makes this particular insult of their's extra funny is how absurd it is, as though being educated is a flaw and/or something to be ashamed of. Funny, and telling."

          "Telling" as in "tiresomely repetitive", more like.

          Copyright cultists have had issues with the educated ever since they were told math wasn't faith-based.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 5:17pm

        Re: Re: Youtube not so reliable as going to prison for drugs in

        I like how he insinuates that studio artists aren't prone to drug use or burnout. Because the image of rockers stoned out of their mind or being stressed to perform or make music clearly didn't exist before big bad Google.

        For someone who claims to hate corporations he sure can't seem to stop sucking off the RIAA's clientele!

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Joseph Sanchez, 21 Feb 2019 @ 10:55am

    Music Industry revenues and trends tell the real story

    This article oversimplifies the issue and has an obvious bias. The real story is told by music industry revenues and trends along with the more complex question of whether or not it is more difficult or easier for an unknown to get a break like Choppa has experienced.

    The facts are that music revenues tanked from a peak during the late 90s, and have yet to recover anywhere near late 90s levels. It must be said that the late 90s represented an artificial high when the economics of music were all aligned to maximize profits, but it is still an important observation. More difficult to prove, but still factual is that while revenues have started to recover in the past decade, most of that revenue is limited to A list artists. In the 90s mid level acts could make a lot of money selling CDs and touring, but that is not the case today. A list artists like Taylor Swift are absorbing far more of the revenue growth than they did in the 90s.

    The more complex question is how healthy is the music industry? This question goes beyond simple economics. If you like an industry that allows for maximum creativity and opportunities for unique and/or risky artists where middle class artists can make a living the answer seems to be "no". A growing body of evidence suggests that music is being simplified and creativity is not rewarded. For example, the "8 second hook" effect has been amply discussed and even analyzed using data algorithms- musicians know that they have to hook their listener in the first 8 seconds or risk having their song skipped.

    Articles like this miss the bigger picture and fail to ask what the effect on music culture has been, which is much more important. The musical middle class seems to be disappearing, and unique and creative artists are often creating less because there are less opportunities to monetize their art. Stories like Choppa are inspiring, but the question is whether or not his story is a false positive? The evidence for those who know the industry seems to be yes, which in my opinion is not good for the arts.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      rangda (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:10am

      Re: Music Industry revenues and trends tell the real story

      "In the 90s mid level acts could make a lot of money selling CDs and touring, but that is not the case today"

      Citation needed. I was involved in the music industry in the late 80's and early 90's (as a DJ) and I can tell you that most (but not all) mid level acts did NOT make money from vinyl/CD sales. Contracts from the major labels were designed to eat your profit from the first 4 albums, and most mid-level acts weren't good for many more profitable albums than that. In order to make money you had to hit it big and survive for a second contract where you had more leverage or be smart and/or lucky to not sign bad contracts to lose the touring money. A couple of our monthly record pool meetings were to go over exactly these kinds of contracts and what to beware of if you decided to make music.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:54am

      Re: Music Industry revenues and trends tell the real story

      Music used to be played in public on boomboxes in the 1970s and 1980s. The Walkman ushered in the era of personalized music on headphones. The internet has changed music a lot, but drivetime is still a large boost to income.

      There will always be middlemen. Priceline survived Expedia. Specialization is the key. A&R, distribution, copyright protection, and licensing are still best done by the larger corporations, be they music-centered, law firms, or internet companies.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:58am

      Re: Music Industry revenues and trends tell the real story

      The facts are that music revenues tanked from a peak during the late 90s, and have yet to recover anywhere near late 90s levels.

      Citation needed, and specify whether the figures cover the legacy industry only, or whether the money made by the independent artists are included.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 12:09pm

      Re: Music Industry revenues and trends tell the real story

      "Articles like this miss the bigger picture"

      Posts like yours miss the wall upon which said big picture is located.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 5:25pm

      Re: Music Industry revenues and trends tell the real story

      Ah, the good old "you can't blame executives for business decisions" excuse.

      Executives and record labels choose to use two songwriters for most popular music today. They choose to approve mostly, if not exclusively, songs that overuse the same hooks and millennial whoop. They choose to have terrible mixing for their represented artists' albums because it's just easier.

      Let's say that tomorrow nobody could download or pirate a song. Access to music is exclusively through label-permitted promotion, and a consumer has to spend limited disposable income on music, no questions asked, to own a copy legally.

      What do you think the label executive is going to do to convince the guy to part with his money? Take a risk? Or go with what the executive knows will work?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 9:56pm

      Re: Music Industry revenues and trends tell the real story

      I wouldn't say they're creating less, just creating things for which they get paid: jingles, specialized music for corporations or other entities, etc.

      There's still some good music out there but it's not easy to find.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 10:25pm

        Re: Re: Music Industry revenues and trends tell the real story

        There's still some good music out there but it's not easy to find.

        This is, of course, highly subjective based on what you consider to be good music and your personal tastes. Other people would say there is a plethora of good music that is easy to find. It all depends on what you like to listen to.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      PaulT (profile), 22 Feb 2019 @ 4:05am

      Re: Music Industry revenues and trends tell the real story

      "The facts are that music revenues tanked from a peak during the late 90s, and have yet to recover anywhere near late 90s levels"

      RECORDED MUSIC SALES have not recovered, but even if you only consider that part of the music industry and ignore everything else, there's plenty of factors that are more important than piracy. For example, unbundling, where people can buy a track for 99c/$1.29 where before they had to buy a $10 CD to get the same song.

      "The musical middle class seems to be disappearing, and unique and creative artists are often creating less because there are less opportunities to monetize their art"

      Bullshit. Music is as vibrant and creative as before, you just have to go beyond what the major labels are shovelling. The fact that they've stopped taking risks doesn't mean that real musicians have.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:05am

    The musical middle class seems to be disappearing, and unique and creative artists are often creating less because there are less opportunities to monetize their art.

    The "musical middle class" (whatever the fuck that is supposed to mean) has more opportunity to make a living using methods that do not include a label then ever before in history.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Steve Swafford (profile), 21 Feb 2019 @ 11:19am

    just curious

    I just watched that video and I tried really hard but I could only make out about 2 or 3 words he said in that whole thing. Am I the only one?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 21 Feb 2019 @ 12:08pm

    The big-selling artists used to also fund the better, more creative artists with smaller but more loyal fanbases.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 22 Feb 2019 @ 5:08pm

    Not saying no, just saying more

    Remember he hasn't necessariliy turned down $3M, he could just be waiting for $5M or $10M.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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