We’re Being Imprisoned

Word Round Town is That the music industry is trying to imprison us.

What do you think about the way the music industry is heading? I don’t like it, but then again this is the music “industry” and not simply music. As I mentioned the week before last week, the industry (through music streaming services) are gradually bringing their users into a place where they’d have to pay for the music which they listen to. Think of it like money and the debit card or contactless payment. It starts off with the rare few and soon government will force it on every individual (the world will be paying contactless, no cash….maybe even no card….) Anyway, that same principle is what we are seeing here. The day will come, or at least the industry want the day to come, where listeners will have the option to either listen to music legally by paying for it or (the only other option) listen illegally through illegal downloads or pirate radio.

I think we should see music like a book (see Josh Mangel’s comments). We all have the right to read. The principle we often use with books is that I can read it in the library or loan it from them, borrow it from a friend etc.. If we like it, then and only then will we buy it. If anything, file-sharing and streaming only helps artists. It builds promo, recognition and can be the link to reaching out to untouched areas, locally, nationally and even globally thanks to the internet. Our word-of-mouth promotes the artists without costing them a penny. And true to the point those pirates buy just as much music, or even more, than those who don’t.

I listen to Spotify freely and if I like a song or album I’ll invest in buying it because it means so much more to me than the random tracks I may listen to whenever I check in the Spotify. I know I’m going to listen again and again, wherever and on whatever device. I love it.

I’m not going to pay for something I may not like. Simple. None of us should.

It isn’t just me, even the artists generating money from us listen to music for free.

  • Jake Bugg said “I stream music because it’s such a handy tool that, if somebody mentions a record, you can get it up straight there on your phone. And if I really like it, I will go out and buy the record.”
  • Kanye West went to the extreme and pirated Serum (…I know that isn’t streaming but still…).

To be frank, artists and the industry are making so much greater a deal out if this whole thing. Did you know that artists of all levels, wealth and status gain only 6% or less of their entire revenue from record sales. The top percentage of income, just as always, comes through performances and touring (other revenue streams come through songwriting, composing, teaching, endorsements and more). Taylor Swift generated over $39 million in 2013. ASTONISHING!!! 6 months on the road touring the US gave her an estimated $30 million. Remember, Taylor Swift has other revenue streams beyond record sales and touring, so $9+ million may very well link to endorsements, merchandise, interviews and special guest appearances, radio airplay and so on.

To add, the average artist will receive 10-20% from a sale. A band will have to split that 10-20% between them. So, from a £0.99 sale an artist would get 1penny, 20p if their lucky. See what I’m getting at?

With that into consideration, why are we being imprisoned into this cage of subscription fees? Who will we go with when we’re finally (if it goes that way) forced to pay for streaming? Will we go for Soundcloud? Tidal? Apple Music? some other new streaming major? Why? What artists will be exclusive to that subscription? Are we meant to pay for every streaming site if we want to listen to a variety of artists?

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