"I will hopefully either clear up some of your misconceptions"....I meant to add.... "or spawn a whole lot more ranting"
I expect you've all swarmed off by now, but in case you haven't I will hopefully either clear up some of your misconceptions.
I am not complaining about my royalties. I put my data out there to show how things work for a moderately successful unlabeled non-mainstream artist. That I am not big was exactly the point. There is little out there in the way of facts as to how regular artists actually make their livings (but lots of opinions on how they should). And as far as streaming goes, most artists are not getting royalties directly, but through a label. Those artists might not be not allowed to talk about royalty splits in their contracts, and in some cases might not even know what they are. I am my own label, and so for better or worse I can talk about these things.
In doing so, I've attracted a lot of attention from the press and that is how I ended up being interviewed by the NYTimes. The author took a snippet of our conversation and used it to his own ends. I am sure most of you have taken a critical reading class and so you must know that you shouldn't believe at face value everything you read. Most authors have a story they want to tell and they use their subjects to prove that story. If I had been more wise and had a PR handler, I would have demanded a transcript to publish at the same time as the article. Believe me, I'll do that from now on.
I was not talking about me in that quote. He asked me: Do you think income from streaming will ever replace income from sales? I remember that I said....as the number of listeners grows it will be lucrative for a mega-artist who has millions and millions of listens. I said in Spotify's case it will be even more lucrative for that mega-artist's label because they have an equity stake in the company. I said that I don't think streaming will ever be a money maker for non-mainstream genres like classical or jazz....because there just aren't enough listeners of fringe genres to reach critical mass. So, given that it takes 200 listens on Spotify to make the same money as the sale of 1 song on iTunes, I said we could be condemning these genres to poverty IF streaming is the only way people will listen to music.
Now here's the other part of that interview that was left out....as awesome as it is, I don't think streaming is the only way people will listen to music. No matter how much of a killer app Spotify is and how Daniel Ek would like it to be how "every single person on the face of this planet" listens to music, I don't think that will happen. But SINCE YOU ASKED dear interviewer, if streaming was the only way we listen to music, then yeah, the fringe could be in trouble. So what fringe artists have to keep doing do is this: make sure fans know they should express their enthusiasm for an artist's music through either direct music sales and/or attending concerts, because streaming isn't enough to live on.
That's roughly what I said. Now, do feel free to tear THAT apart, because I'm very interested in the discussion and love a good debate.
Anyhoo, there are two things miain I'd like to change about the current system....and neither of them is about getting more royalties.
1) When someone buys my music on Bandcamp, I get an email address (and an address if they purchased a physical copy). On iTunes, I get a zip code, from streaming services, I get nothing. I'd like to see music services help artists solve the problem of figuring out where their listeners are...so artists know where to tour. Controversial: who does listener data belong to? The listener, the music service, the copyright holder, some, all or none of the above?Discuss
2) I'd like to make the basic royalty calculation the same for all parties. It's not clear that is is. Also 18% of Spotify's profits that goes to labels (4% to each of the big 4 and 2% to Merlin). On a balance sheet Spotify doesn't have profits today because they're investing in growth (although I'm sure no one works for free). If you can't reverse the label equity problem, and you really care about saving the music industry, how about giving an equal portion of stock to an artist pool, and let them share in the company's growth?
There are others but I'm focusing on those. So yeah, I do have an agenda, I'm trying to insert the needs of artists, not just labels, into the business plans of music companies....music companies who's products and services rely on the music of those artists. Of course, these are private companies. They can choose to not incorporate these suggestions. Some are listening and some aren't. I'm thrilled about diversity in the streaming market and excited about the Ian Roger-Daisy-GoDirect trinity.
Other small points:
I am not poor or struggling. I've sold over 60,000 albums either through iTunes, Bandcamp, at concerts, or on Amazon (in decreasing order of importance). I am very grateful. I never take it for granted. It could disappear at any moment and probably will.
I work all the flipping time. Anyone who thinks I am not working hard can, um, go jump in a lake. I am doing something I love though, and so I love it. Well, not entirely true. I love most of it. I don't love negotiating licensing contracts, or planning tour logistics, or being delayed at an airport for 8hrs with my toddler.
I didn't have a music career before the internet so I don't personally know what it is to be a recording artist before filesharing. I've never experienced it as a problem. I've said it elsewhere, I've encouraged people to share my music and just encouraged people to buy it from me directly if they want to support me.
Radio does actually pay royalties: In 2012 I received twice as much from terrestrial radio royalties as I did from Spotify, and 2/3 as much as I did from Pandora.
I didn't make that "avant" title. Some other reporter did in some other article.
I'll be performing on Jonathan Coulton's cruise ship next week and can't guarantee I'll come here to read your replies. Ok, I'm lying. I guarantee I won't be reading them. So if you have questions that need an answer ping me at info at zoekeating.com.
Thanks for paying attention!