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Friday, 12 December 2014

·        Should Artists STOP selling Music? Are Artists Singing/Playing for NOTHING? Are they making any MONEY?

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

My opinion is that giving out my material for free is actually the only way I can compete w/ the majors. That is if I want to stay relevant so its a must for me to have a shot of being successful. I wouldn't have the budget to get on major radio or distribution to the Wal Marts & the Best Buys nor would I have the budget to perform at arenas and shoot million dollar videos or get on the BETS or MTVS or VH1s. Another fact is that even though it pays little, it still pays, and if your an artist or a producer who is really trying to maximize his/her revenue you must take advantage of all avenues and not really on just one promotional or income source. If spotify is playing such small returns how about making up for the revenue by monetizing your youtube videos and your website or your blog w/ google ads? Thats what I do. Sell merch on your website. OR learn more trades and offer more services such as promo services and graphic designs, etc. As a matter of fact when somebody visits my website I make an average of $0.05 per visit due to PPC ads and Google adsense, so even though I'm not getting paid for the free download or stream that a fan/potential fan took advantage of, I'm still generating some form of revenue(even though it is little) just for the visit(on average).
Now the issue is with the payment model it self, & the payment model is 100% NOT FAIR to the artist and all of the contributors of any music project. It has nothing to do w/ the fact that a fan gets the music for free, that is irrelevant.
A cable tv customer gets to watch Jurassic Park for free whenever TNT plays the movie because they have paid the cable tv provider for the access. The difference is that THE CABLE PROVIDER PAYS THE NETWORK for their content so they can have a customer base in the 1st place. The difference is that THE NETWORK PAYS THE MOVIE COMPANY for the rights to show the movie. And the difference is that THE ADVERTISERS PAY THE NETWORK to display their commercial. So in this modern day of the internet and of free music, it really boils down to the royalties that are being payed by these sites/services and those royalties that are being received by the labels and the artist and contributors. The problem lies when sites like Spotify and Rdio pay such little to the artist. This is and is not radio. It is radio because it is free for the listener (not including satellite) and they generate their income by commercials/ads, at the same time it is not radio because fans control the playlist and not payola & that is the main reason why a fan is interested in a Spotify thus whya pay for play or web traffic makes sense, I just want a fair compensation!
I understand that if a million people are all streaming a million different artist at the same time then you have to pay a million artist that fee, as oppose to a million people listening to 1 song at the same time since radio controls the playlist BUT that is the service you offer and your advertisers and premium members will still cover the expenses for you, even if you automatically play ads or display pop up ads every 3 or 5 songs such as Pandora. If Youtube or Spotify or w/e website is generating money whether it is by ads or premium memberships or premium subscriptions, or one time fees, etc. then I should be given a certain percentage on top of that stream(similar to reverbnation even though it is minuscule) or simply just a better rate.
Artist are the reason why fans and customers are streaming or downloading music on the website in the 1st place. If it wasn't for your favorite band on these websites then there would be no listeners or fans which means there would be no advertisers which then mean there would be no website. Also most people here are not calculating the cost of distribution(which is fee based or % of sales/revenue based therefore eating away at the revenue), yet alone other cost such as recording, mixing, promotion/marketing, etc, but this is the cost of the music business, has been and always will be.
At the end of the day its a double edge sword. It means us as INDEPENDENT artist and producers and song writers have to work harder AND smarter just to make decent money. We no longer have to depend on a major to get our music out to the world and in addition we get to control the type of music we release. However we no longer have a power house machine behind us if we were signed and promoted BUT on top of that and at the same time we get to keep the majority of whatever income we do make if we do make money since we own our own music and publishing.
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matt  K-OTIC  a year ago
True, and youtube works too. But the returns are still now massively in favour of youtube and google, spotify compared with radio, which also offers listeners essentially free play too. They are making money from your work, we need to change the law to get artists returns for this. And not just major artists. It was a the change of the copyright laws 120 odd years ago that allowed musicians to make money from their work in the first place, and its application was adapted for radio, tv and film. We have to do the same now for the change in the current technology.
Also the more musicians have to rely on websites and merchandise for income the less they become musicians, the more they become new media marketing executives.

Cuckoomusic  2 years ago
I'm an artist. Not successful at all commercially, but I put my soul into it. Instead of moaning about how leechers and pirates won the day Spotify got legal I'm gonna propose a way of using Spotify to your advantage, and to make it fun:
1. Make your awesome album.
2. Make a great, stripped down, charming and social live version of your album, with some talk about your awesome true album baked into some of the tracks. Release this version on Spotify to promote your awesome album.
3. Release your awesome album in a paid music format of choice.
4. Consider releasing it on your own on a custom ordered USB stick with your logo and fun design. USB sticks can be purchased for half a dollar from Chinese whole sale and is a perfect way of distributing media such as music, videos, lyrics, games etc. A USB stick is also useful after it has served its purpose of delivering the data.

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Reivaj  Cuckoomusic  a year ago
Release your album in whathever form = get it ripped and available free in internet in no time.
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So the musician makes money while the Chinese wholesaler employees keep making nothing... and data that could have been transferred digitally at almost zero cost is loaded (manually) onto a throwaway bit of electronics. Brilliant plan...
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Exactly. View Spotify as advertising that you get paid a tiny amount for.
Meanwhile as a music consumer, I never heard of cdbaby, but that's where I'm buying music from now on.
Maximillion  3 years ago
Excellent post and some interesting comments here.
Unfortunately a lot of very naive views the reality of being a musician.

The modern artist has to invest a fantastic amount of time and money in order to be any good in the first place. Years of practise, thousands spent on equipment, rehearsal costs etc. You could have any degree in less time than it takes to be a really good musician.
What the latest figures actually show is that even if you manage to be reasonably successful (4,000,000+ plays on Spotify/1600 downloads a month) you can't make even enough money to live never mind continue with your career. Technology has made it cheaper to make records but still costs time and money to create, record and market.
"Just go out and do more gigs." If there is no money you can't - it costs money to drive around the country doing shows as a solo act and if you add musicians, hotels and food, venue costs, parking it costs even more. It's not rocket science.
Yes U2 and the like make millions touring because millions of people pay £100+ a ticket to watch them but that is the exception. Phone up your local decent small venue and see how much it costs to put a gig on. You'll get a shock. Multiply that by 20 cities and add the other costs. Your bankrupt!

As for the bizarre maths showing download and streaming are closer than the table suggests. Obviously they are not and that is misleading. It doesn't matter whether you listen once or a million times to music you have bought. With a stream you are renting and paying a royalty. The point is it is an extraordinarily low amount and is not enough so undermines sales in the same way as illegal downloads.
Streaming services like Spotify are ripping off musicians by claiming it's radio. It's not radio it's a jukebox but because it's owned by Sony BMG Music, Universal Music, Warner Music, EMI and Merlin (how many people know that?) they are planning on earning money in other ways so they don't care as much as they should about the artists. In fact it works better for them if they can keep the artist payment as low as possible. Just a slight conflict of interests....
Always astonished by some of the negative and frankly creepy comments some people make as if the artist deserves to be ripped off. Most artists i know would be happy to just make enough to live and continue making music. The point being it's almost impossible at the moment and if it doesn't change all we will be left with is reality show garbage and novelty records.
It's very tough being a musician these days but the world would be a worse place without any.
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Dsorceress  Maximillion  3 years ago
*sigh* It has always been tough being a musician. Think about how much it cost to get to national prominence in a world BEFORE radio, TV, etc. The simple fact is that just because a vanishingly few people make huge money at this, does not mean that anyone can decide that they have a right to be recompensed for how they chose to spend their time. No, you do not have a 'right' to make a living as an artist. Most of us DON'T make it. I made a fairly decent living as an artist for several years, but I decided it was better to do it on the side because it does not pay steadily. It never did, and not just for me, and not just because I wasn't 'good enough.' There is a lot of competition, and the big media labels have a pretty solid lock on things because they are the only ones with pockets deep enough to do the kind of advertising one must do to get to national prominence. But, just like all other financial ventures, the people who do the meaningful work do not take home the big bucks; those are reserved for the CEOs. Nothing different about this in the music biz as in any other venue. You can fly solo, just like any other biz. Make a better mousetrap, market it from your laptop at home. You will make a little money, then if you spark any real traffic, you might be offered a chance to sell your rights to someone who will 'package' it for you, and the end result will be you becoming the next McDonald brothers or Rod Canion... sitting on the sidelines making a pittance, watching someone else benefit from your work. 
Sound unfair? IT IS. But guess what? It has ALWAYS been that way, and in every single business model, not just the music industry. LOTS of professionals, in all walks of life, work very hard perfecting a craft and don't get paid what their time and quality is worth. Welcome to reality! And guess what? The internet did not create THAT either., What it did do, though, was to make it a lot easier for a start up than it ever, ever was. So stop raining on the parade, for crying out loud. Stop weeping into your Wheaties because it's so hard to make a buck at this. Most of the great artists, whose names we are taught in school, died as paupers. Mozart shares that fate with Woody Guthrie. Marilyn Monroe and Vincent van Gogh as well, and too many more to mention. It is part and parcel of an artist's life; unlike shoes or food, people only buy art or music that appeals to them personally, and only with their disposable income. These are luxuries not necessities. Yes, music may make life worth living, but it can go by the wayside if it comes down to a choice between buying that CD or getting the baby diapers. Too many artists forget that. Yes, it is hard work, but until someone OFFERS to pay you for it, it is your HOBBY not your 'business.'

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Jonathan Haizel  Maximillion  3 years ago
Maximillion, thank you for your informative comments and posts. I have read through all of the comments and yours are the only ones that consistently make sense, and I totally agree with you that it is quite unsettling to see peoples mis-guided opinions but I am seeing reflections in other sections of society, politics, banking etc... it seems the big corporations hide behind these deliberately set-up smoke screens of confusion all the while trying to make as much money and hold onto as much control as possible, all the while, leaving the general public to argue over the points that they THINK are the real issues when really many of us have no clue! Your examples of everybody beleiving music should be free is a good example of how people have been brainwashed by popular culture into thinking, every musician is a Jay Z or Beyonce or Bruno Mars capable of arrogantly commanding millions in revenue when that is clearly not the case.
I am a producer and songwriter and have had a little success with sync deals and hope to someday quit my day job, but I am under no illusion that that day will actually happen with "more gigs and more hardwork" that is way too naive. The one way to increase my chances, along with making sure I am the best musician I can be, is to make sure I understand as much as I possibly can, the inner workings of the BUSINESS of music and what motivates the corporations, what goes on behind the scenes, what new trends are and staying flexible enough to be able to move with changes in the market. I know its sad, that as a musician, that is what I feel I must do, but I am not greedy, as are not most musicians, but there is no-one else out there that is going to look out for my interests, so if I dont, who am I expecting to do it for me.....?
Maximillion, if there is anyway I could stay in touch with you I would greatly appreciate access to your incites, please let me know if you have a blog or twitter account? my email ad is
Many thanks

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


Corey Makaih  Maximillion  3 years ago
That is why you need to "Plan" In ANY business it takes start up costs, advertising, marketing, etc just like any other business. It's not going to be easy just because its music. Not everyone has what it takes to be successful at music. That's not to say you can't be successful at doing it. People want the easy way out but really music is just as hard as starting any other business. If you want to do it, commit to it! There is no Music Industry. It's all business no investment = no success. You can't expect to spend all your money on new equipment, album covers, and website graphics without accounting for Marketing and Promotion for shows. Why would anybody come to your show and they don't know about it? I mean, use the internet!
Google adwords, Reverbnation, Cd baby, Youtube, there are so many options.
Invest in your music just like any other Business! No matter how great your music is, no one cares if they can't find it!


Bob  2 years ago
When are musicians going to wake up? Offering FREE downloads to third party music sites is only feeding the 'Freeloaders', not 'downloaders'. People show up at work and expect to get paid, what if their bosses said they had to work a week FREE to see if they liked their work, then what. These Freeloaders are nothing more than bums and theives. Artsists spend their whole life perfecting and practicing their craft and a lot of money in production and equipment. Why, so the greedy public can steal and ripoff their music? 
All Artists should ONLY offer 40-1 minute previews. If people can't figure out they'd like to hear the entire song with that they're idiots. If all artists stop whoring out their work then All artists would be paid and these third party download sites would have to start being accountable!

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The problem is that most artist shouldn't be artist.
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John  Bob  2 years ago
Well said Bob.It's time to kick the "the world OWES me everything" generation where the sun don't shine!
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Actually entirely factually incorrect. Recent evidence showed that people who avail themselves of free downloads (legal or otherwise) are actually the peak consumers; they spend more money on legal music than anyone else. So the 'freeloaders' you refer to are actually the people keeping those artists going.
Frankly I would rather see artists like Radiohead release free records or artists self-publishing and distribution than the current model where the vast proportion of the profits go to the labels who are, increasingly, doing very little when more artists are creating and producing their own music.
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§  Reply
Exactly,I'm glad they shut down limewire and megaupload.I'm no artist but I knew people who knew indie artist,I know their struggle,and it's very wrong.Give people the opportunity to anonymously use or keep digital content,and they will make copies,even sell it,never paying for your hard work.

Luv0fmusic  Bob  a year ago
Shonn Frank  3 years ago
Great discussion. I wrote an article that was very well received on this topic about two years old. Much has changed since then, and I'm still not sure which side is ultimately "right". However, I still personally maintain that this is all a good thing for artists.
And just to add to that, I could cite my own experience. When I wrote that two years ago I had been on year 6 of my "hiatus" from music (you could say retirement, but that would suggest that I earned some sort of living in music.) Yeah, from high school to around the age of 30, I put (what I thought at the time was) everything into "making it" in the industry. I spend money on studio time and demo tapes and did shows in dives in front of anywhere from 1 to a few hundred people, with most closer to the 1.
All during that time, it was a "gamble", all or nothing. You were praying that you rub shoulders with or at least get heard by "the right person." No matter how good I thought I was, it was about hustling to get that break, very political. The ones who faired were the ones who could also BS. BUT there was never the idea that one could earn a living. You were either a "starving musician" sleeping on your groupie's sofa or you got a crappy record deal that left you high and dry OR you were making money, but only a fraction of what you deserve. A decent deal would be earning about a buck on a 19.99 CD and forget about keeping any publishing. And even THAT was hitting the lottery, because that was the only way.
I think some people are assuming that artists were doing great before all this. No. And most like me had to give up what they love and give up the dream of getting a contract.

Anyway, a year ago, I decided to go back to work on music, because I saw a chance. First of all, what digital technology has done for music production (in my particular genre of hip hop especially) is a miracle. But besides that, there is now an opportunity to do it yourself. I wouldn't understate the importance of people streaming your music. Do any artists here remember how hard it was to get ONE person to just shut up and listen to your stuff for a minute? lol
Of course, I realize that I am taking an unpopular angle. I truly feel that having people hear and appreciate my music is the most valuable thing to me.
Plus, another important factor is that an artist has no overhead. Last century, music was a tangible product. To have even 1000 CDs pressed was too much for an indy artist to handle. Now, you have virtually a whole warehouse full of your music. Then there is merchandise. A place like allows you to design your merch and sell it right there...again no overhead. And overall, no one has their hand in your pockets. It's all yours.
HJ  2 years ago
Well, seems like it just sucks to be an artist....
First it was piracy that "was going to kill the music industry" and when someone finally made a good enough legal service to more or less eradicate all the illegal downloads the labels and artists starts bitching about it anyway.
Just face it, the world and the demands have changed and no matter how much the labels want the world to be back in the 80ish it won't happen. Adapt or be prepared for a very rocky ride.
That is true. Before, buying an Album was the thing to do, now it's buying a video game or iphone. But, I strongly believe if the world shut music 'off' for a week, and no one could buy, download, stream or listen to music, they would know how valuable it really is.
Nope. People would just make their own and plink away at their garageband or move on to something else much the way people that stop watching TV move away from shows and movies almost entirely. I don't watch shows or go to movies hardly at all anymore, since we got rid of the TV. Do spend time talking and hanging with friends and going out and enjoying my day now..
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I don't I watch everything online when I can. We are moving away from TVs, but not from entertainment media. It's just moving to a new platform. And I still dissagree, I know a lot of people that would miss music. With almost anything, once you have something great, it's hard to go back to sitting around a campfire listening to a guy who can't really sing or play guitar.

Macky  3 years ago
So what's the solution? Why are we all the victims of these big corps ruling the world?
If anyone is out there actually coming up with a solution, a fair way for artists to be paid for their wares please reply to this post. The only reason the big corps are in charge is because the rest of us think that it's only them who can change things. We are not powerless; there are so many people commenting here, and these people are a minute fraction of the people who would like to see a fair exchange between artist and listener.
How can a CD or mp3 sale be compared to a listen on Spotify? If I like a track I'll listen to it on Spotify anywhere between 50 and 200+ times a year. An album that I like I'll listen to say 30 to 100 times a year. You'd have to divide the revenue of a bought CD or mp3 by 500 to 1000 to compare to Spotify listens.
If the rate is .04 of a euro cent (see for a Spotify play, then 520 listens by a single fan per year (10 listens per week) would equal 0.20 euros. Thats only 5 fans listening on Spotify to give the artist the equivalent of 1 CD sale. Bearing in mind that a CD will possibly be lent, copied (copies then copied and shared with friends) and eventually sold on (with the original copies still on peoples PCs, mp3 players, etc) the revenues could even be equal in some cases (please don't pick the maths apart, there are obviously variations within this as not all people lend their CDs to others or copy them). Similarly an mp3 downloaded for 99 cents will often be copied and be listened to countless times for that single sale.
Further to this this is the exposure (abd therefore value) that Spotify offers through the sharing of playlists and notifications of what friends and peers are listening to, no to mention the fact that I can listen to an artist/track/album in good quality at my leisure as many times as I like without the commitment to purchasing anything. Therefore I can hang out with music that is new to me where and when I like, increasing the scope of new music that I can enjoy (and therefore increasing the market that musicians can access worldwide without leaving their home/studio/town). Where else can I choose to listen to music that someone has recommended to me? They can lend me the CD, or burn me a copy (no revenue for artist), I can go to myspace, which tends to be poor quality and doesn't work on my Android browser very well, as well as being nowhere near as good a media player as Spotify. With Spotify I can quickly add any album as a playlist using the Android app, then listen to it when I am next sat at my PC. Any tracks that I like I simpy star and then I've easily got a playlist of new music that I like. If I like this new artist recommended to me I'll listen to it more often on Spotify and my friends will see that I am listening to it online, creating much more exposure than just the people who will hear it at home or in my car when I listen to it. The notifications actuall hang around after I've listened to a track, so the exposure is many times the length of the track itself.
If you make good music then Spotify gives you access to a massive market at your fingertips. You need to be business wise or have a good manager to make money from your craft, in any trade. If you have sold the rights to your music to a label in the hope they will do the best for you then good luck. Personally I think the days are coming to an end where we need to sell our precious creations to corporations in exchange for the hope of success.
And finally why do some musicians think they're hard done by because they don't know whether they'll make money or even cover costs when they produce an album or go on tour? This is the reality for every person who chooses to work for themselves; in any trade income is never guaranteed, but those with a good product/service and business sense will generally be successful.

Shaun Wallace  Macky  2 years ago
Very good comment, I agree with ya. If you make good music, and have some biz sense or a great manager who does, you'll succeed eventually (and make a sale or ten).

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

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