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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Today in the music biz - updated 4/19

In which I actually stand up for millionaires


Here's a interesting snapshot of today's shiny new music industry -

Geoff Barrow from the at-one-time big-unit-shifting band Portishead reports that he made a whopping $2,511.79 after taxes from 34,000,000 plays on the various streaming services (and yes, the British pay a lot of taxes, but not that much, so sit down Grover Norquist). This reminded me of something non-starving-artist Steven Tyler said once at Famous Music College (after my time there though) "What it's all about when you make it big is that on every dollar, they keep 75 cents and give you 25 cents. Then every time they see you, they tell you how shiny your quarter is."

While the business has always favored the corporations over the artists, the new paradigm takes it to the next level. While there are more and more ways for the artists to create and distribute music on their own, it seems to me that it's harder to make a living making music (by which I mean being able to devote your time to making music without having to work at, say, an insurance company, to pay for the making of the music, let alone keeping yourself housed and fed). What I'm basically saying is although Messrs. Barrow and Tyler could probably still live comfortably if they never got paid again, if these guys can't get a fair paycheck, what's the hope that someone whose muse lies somewhere outside of the prevailing corporate interests can?

Maybe eventually these new media will level things out, but I'm not holding my breath. So click on the above 1,500 times and make Geoff a buck.

Update - Here's an article from Forbes, of all places. which details how the major labels are getting into the streaming business, buying the dog that bites the hand that feeds it. More. if not perhaps sympathetic, at least frank about how small a piece of the pie the artists are served, even if the ones quoted are rich and successful.

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