Knock knock. Who’s there? Spotify. Spotify who? Right, did you spot who’s got my royalty check!
If you’re a recording artist looking for a payout from music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, Grooveshark, Last.fm, MOG, Rdio, iTunes Radio (in the works) and the list goes on — have you heard of Soundhalo, that’s the UK start-up Thom York & Nigel Godrich ditched Spotify for? — and you’ve only now begun to complain about the lack of dollars on your royalties checks, then I’ve got one simple question for you: Where the fuck have you been?
Bye bye Thom and Nigel… What’s that Mr. Lowery (of Camper Van Beethoven & Cracker fame), you don’t like the internet “exploitation economy”? Come again Pink Floyd, Pandora’s founder TIm Westergren is deceitful because he wants to cut Pandora’s royalty rates!!!
Dave, Roger, Nick WTF you’re Pink Floyd, what’s wrong with you guys? I realize you’re just a tad removed from your progressive heyday but that’s no reason to shit on Westergren because the poor bastard is trying to run a business against entrenched radio titans like Clear Channel and Cumulus, who by-the-way (in case you didn’t know) still do not pay a dime of royalty to the artists performing the songs on their airwaves, let alone to the labels. Did you know the US is the only industrialized nation that does not have a terrestrial broadcast performance right for sound recordings? This puts us in the same league as Cuba, Iran and North Korea. I know you think nothing of charging $1,000+ for a concert ticket today and that it’s because of your demi-god status that Pandora should have split its IPO raise 50/50 with you to justify Pink Floyd’s presence on their service, but c’mon!!!
The National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) recently took out newspaper advertisements claiming having to pay performers when playing their music is “bad for radio, bad for artists and bad for listeners.” Pandora’s operating at a loss of $36MM for last year and Spotify has shelled out over $500MM since launch. So where is all this money from streaming services going if not in your artist pockets?
It’s paying to maintain this broken, antiquated, lardish, myopic industry starting with the labels, who this time said we’re getting paid no matter what, and the artists, well, fuck the artists… we (the labels) working in cahoots with our PRO (Performance Rights Organization) partner, SoundExchange, are going to make sure this piggy gets fed right and first… and the artists, well fuck them! But the industry failing doesn’t stop with the labels. If a home purchased by Pandora’s CTO is news, then when are the gluttonous salaries of label, music publisher, and PRO Presidents & CEOs going to be news? The entire edifice is crumbling because no one wants to change. ASCAP, BMI & SESAC are supposed to be not-for-profit PROs for crying out loud, at the service of their songwriters & publishers membership, yet their collective enforcement power is clearly in NAB’s pocket and they too like radio programmers must be bought.
Artists, when are you going to start talking about boycotting radio and pulling music from the terrestrial airwaves so you’re finally and fairly compensated by an industry that has been milking you dry, sucking at your teet for decades? Don’t you see the problem isn’t solely Spotify, or Pandora or any of these other streaming services? When are you going to ask the labels to provide you with transparent accounting so you can see how much they’re skimming from the top? When are you going to have the guts to say “Fuck this” and find ways to connect with your fans directly and once-in-for-all disintermediate this flailing music industry instead of sending off lame-ass tweets like “It’s up to streaming providers to come back with a better way of supporting new music producers..” (Nigel Godrich)? In fairness to Godrich this tweet is part of a series in which he points to the salacious behind the scenes deal making major labels did with Spotify to both own a piece of the company and get more favorable royalty rates, but still.
Until that time, do not complain until you’re actively doing something to personally shake up the status quo, and enjoy the simple fact that your music can now be heard by millions more people because Spotify, Pandora and others are actually carrying it.