Stats & Facts Must Just Be Bias Demand

Word Round Town is That Stats & Facts Must Just Be Bias Demand

I don’t know about you but the music industry can seem little confusing sometimes. Each day cases, lawsuits, statistics, company rivalries, and so much more hits are presented to us in various formats (magazines, newspapers, blog, forums etc). Today I’d like to carry on with the streaming music issues that have arisen.

The argument has been going on for so long, but who is right? No, really. Who is right? We are hit right and left with so many contradicting ‘facts’ and statistics’. Are these real, or just lofty opinions? We have to ask ourselves this question before we take any side in supporting artists or streaming companies.

Here are some examples:

Cary Sherman, head of RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) told Re\Code reporter

“They will not just take down all 100 copies. They’l take down only the file that we’ve identified. We have to find every one of them, and notice them,…”

Vs.

YouTube’s director of global music partnerships Christopher Muller’s report in The Guardian

“thousands of labels and rightholders have licensing agreements with YouTube to actually leave fan videos up and earn revenue from them.”

The announcement of Gabriela Vatu on behalf of SoftPedia regarding a brand new study on YouTube,

“A brand new study indicates that the popular video streaming site is the reason why record labels lose millions of dollars each year.”

Vs.

YouTube‘s claim,

“…where radio does pay royalties, we pay at least twice as much.”

Blondie’s public complaint in The Guardian

“YouTube has enabled a flood of unlicensed content into the marketplace, driving the market price down and using their monopoly-power to pay next to nothing.”

Vs .

YouTube’s statistics,

“Only 0.5% of all music claims are issued manually; we handle the remaining 99.5% with 99.7% accuracy. And today, fan-uploaded content accounts for roughly 50% of the music industry’s revenue from YouTube.”

Musicians and labels complain that file-sharing, streaming and piracy don’t benefit the industry at all. However, statistics (whether their real or not) indicate that it actually increases revenue by acting a a promotional tool (that costs the company nothing by the way). For instance,

“a funny video of a Ben Affleck interview helped propel Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence to the Top 10 Hot Rock Songs chart 50 years after it was released.”

Many people will say Spotify do not pay enough. Spotify pay out 70-75% of their revenue back to the artists and or record company (whoever is in charge of the accounting). If you didn’t know, 1% of artists receive up to around 77% of the revenue earned in the music industry (radio, live, stream, downloads, merchandise, ads etc). Maybe that is one reason why Spotify isn’t good for new artists. Of course it will be hard for any new artist hoping to promote themselves these days, when there is so much competition with so many people aspiring to be full-time paid musicians and artists. But, in my option, it is also down to the fact that generally people listen to what they know (commercial pop icons) or what is directly fed to them (commercial pop icons).

One thing is for sure though and that is Nothing is for sure in the music industry.

 

Elmo pic taken from Best Elmo rap song – big bird goes crazy – YouTube

 

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?

Streaming is Changing…for the better?

Word Round Town is That “Streaming is Changing”.

The world of streaming is changing, and it’s hard to say whether or not it’s for the better. For artists, not necessarily record labels, the newly introduced changes will most likely impact them positively if all goes according to plan. Tidal’s and Apple Music’s latest means that users will have to pay for their streaming. This principle favours the artists by increasing their revenue and at the same time users receive a package of continually updates offers and services. Even Soundcloud have followed the similar principle for profit (of which will be addressed later).

However, for the user, the fan, the listener, this recent “development” cannot be all so good. It’s fair to say we may soon see the end of free streaming services. Competition is HOT! And all major services all seem to want exclusivity. They want their listener to be totally loyal to them and them alone. The listener will of course have to if all major services begin charging and if artists continue to exclude themselves from certain services (e.g Taylor Swift removing her music from Spotify).

My hope is that Spotify, as they are currently still doing, will remain true to their mission to release free music while still providing revenue for artists through ad-support and the option of paid subscription.

Just as the world leaders may squeeze society into newly developed technologies or procedures (e.g. forcing people to carry out their traditional activities online as opposed to traditional methods , as such methods decrease in society – reservations/bookings/registration, payments, CV/job searching, coursework, essays, news) so streaming is gradually bringing society into a place where music can no longer be viewed as free to listen to, unless listened to illegally.

Apple Music, in January this year, ended their free streaming of iTunes radio leaving station users with either of these messages “READY TO PLAY WHEN YOU ARE” or “Get on our Wavelength” and prompted to join the payed subscription. Of course those who pay will receive more than what they were given whilst using the free service. Subscribers will receive on -and offline listening, radio stations, social ties and tailor made recommendations, the use of Siri (voice command), expert-created playlists, a blog and a social network (“Connect”) that gives artists a platform to share content with their followers.

Soundcloud has changed drastically, and surely not for the better. Soundcloud have robbed themselves of the very thing that made the streaming service unique – favouring the undiscoverable and independent. Make a song, distribute it free of charge (up to 2hours of uploading space). Not only has it been great for music but also podcasts, spoken word and other audio based material.

On a social platform with a level playing field for all artists and other site-users, users can upload their own material, repost the material of others, follow account holders, and comment on and “Like” uploads. Undiscovered/independent artists have been recognised by major artists through Soundcloud (e.g. Snoop Dogg discovering Iza Lach, the unknown producer Boots working with Beyonce).

Now that Soundcloud are making users join a paid subscription, it is less likely such unique aspects of Soundcloud will be considered the place for independent artists and create such opportunities for these artists.

YouTube have also decided to pull the plug on free music…almost. YouTube are moving closer and closer into an exclusive tier. Recently YouTube forced revenue earning users to comply to the new terms and conditions with the site with a slight blackmail stating “videos will no longer be available for public display or monitization in the United States” if revenue earners refused to comply (small clips will still be viewable). ESPN had to remove most of their content from all formats of YouTube in the United States.

There we have it. Streaming may be gradually fading into an all-pay no-say service. However there is still hope with the likes of Spotify.

 

unrelated Elmo picture found at Elmo’s World: Music – Muppet Wiki – Wikia

Free Music?

This topic has really caught my attention over the last month. No doubt I’m going to continue delving into the subject of “Should Music Be Free?”.

Here’s an interesting read: (the thoughts of top producers who intend on music being free)

http://edm.com/articles/2014-11-11/why-music-should-be-free

What do you think?

 

Image from http://muppet.wikia.com/wiki/Elmo’s_World:_Music

Just As Bad

Word Round Town is That … Music piracy is a huge issue and has been since Napstar (and even before that…we could still pirate tapes before the internet came along). One thing I question is “who are the real criminals here?”

When asking a musician or artists (especially unestablished artists), “Do you think people should pay for music?” They first response is, “Yes”. “Artists need to get paid”. Yet, when asked “Do you download songs illegally (e.g. YouTube converter)?” They say “Yes”. (My classroom was full of raised hands when asked if they do).

Isn’t this kind of hypocritical. I’ve heard so many people suggest reasons as to why it is ok for them to download music illegally but not for others to download their own music illegally, basing their opinion on the fact that these big artists don’t need our £0.99 because their rich as it is. Quick question. How is it they got rich? Many didn’t start off rich. Many artists started from the bottom and made it big because people bought their tickets, merchandise, etc, supported them and paid for their tracks.

I think many of us musicians/artists stand guilty regarding this, not just with music but also production software. Even the big ballers seem to be pirating – couch couch Kanye West!! cough.

Piracy is not dying. Check the stats. If we musicians/artists want to earn a living from music, we must first treat it as we wish others treat our own. Nothing will change if we don’t start with ourselves.

Thing is, even if we think music should be for free (which hey we all have our thoughts as to whether it should be or not), IT IS. #Spotify is basically music FOR FREE. At least sign up to that.

Thats the word on the street. What do you think?

 

Image taken from Sesame Street: Elmo The Musical – “Barnacle Subtraction Song …

Money Issues in 2016 – Celebs

Word Round Town is That Money Issues in 2016 are hitting celebs hard

It seems it’s not just the working class “struggling” with their money issues. Can you believe, those on minimum wage working in McDonald’s for £5.50 an hour aren’t even having as hard a time as those with a net worth of say $145million (£104,212,335.20).

How can this be?!!!

Almost three months into the year and we’ve seen some recent “struggles” in the celeb world (I say struggle….more like mishandling of possessions….actually scratch that, ignorance…and maybe greed taking it’s toll).

Now, of course we all have taxes to pay and unfortunately the more you ear the more you’re taxed. I‘m not saying that’s right, I’m just saying that’s how it is. Despite the huge accumulation of income these celebs are getting, many still find themselves in debt or simply refusing to pay off their taxes.

The biggest I guess at the moment, regarding debt, is Kanye’s recent plea for $53million (Kanye has a net worth, tough potentially at risk, of $145million, that £104,212,335.20). Anyone gonna chip in? Nah, not me either. I don’t think Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook CEO) will either after ‘liking’ a now deleted Facebook post by a former Facebook software engineer,

“Dear Kanye West: If you’re going to ask the CEO of Facebook for a billion dollars, maybe don’t do it on Twitter”.

Kanye isn’t the only one in debt this year. Rapper Tyga (real name Michael Nguuen-Stevenson) is also in debt over his unpaid rent bills. The Rack City star is facing eviction from the $4.8million (£3.3million) Hollywood Hills house that rents out for $17,000 (£11,840) per month….imagine!!!

T.I (rapper) is gonna have to dig into his pockets a little too. The rapper has reportedly refused to pay his backlog of unpaid taxes totalling to $1.6million (£1.1million) from 2014. Some might already know that T.I is not unfamiliar with the IRS (America’s Internal Revenue Service) after his trouble with them last year over unpaid taxes from 2012 and 2013, a total of around $4.21million (£30,257,51.25). He’s also been sent recently another lien against his mansion in Georgia after having failed to pay the Lost Valley Homeowners Association in December last year.

 

Picture from expatchild.com