Sunday, August 9, 2015

Streaming Music Services and a payment model proposal

I'm conflicted about Spotify. It's brilliant for the user. It sucks for the artist. The argument that "this is how people discover your band" or "a promoter can hear your band and hire you, that's how you make money" is just absurd. Let's say you're a chef. By the same logic, you would make all your food free to anyone who wants it, maybe put a few street vending carts out there with the hope that they'll love it and come sit in your restaurant. That's unsustainable and everyone knows it. Making quality sound recordings is not cheap and touring barely pays for itself... so let's assume we agree that not paying artists for the music that's streamed is unsustainable. What to do?

Spotify and other services can't be free. They just can't. There's too much overhead, not only for the artist but for Spotify itself to just give that shit away. YouTube shouldn't be free either. Subscription is the name of the game. So Spotify charges $10 a month, which I gladly pay because, frankly, it's a deal at 5x the price. If I ran the world (I run my world, it's awesome. You're not welcome to visit, however, get your own world) that subscription fee would first be split between Spotify and the artists, let's be generous and give Spotify 50% (30% is probably better, but again, I'm feeling generous and I think Spotify has done something wonderful). This leaves $5.00 for the artist (not everyone does math, believe it or not). That $5 should be split between every track that user listens to that month. If I listen to one song, one time, that artist lucks out and gets $5 for it. If I listen to 100 different songs by 100 different artists, they all get $.05. If you have an adventurous fanbase who digests tons of music, you'll make less money. If you have a song that's an absolute earworm and gets 90% of a listeners plays, you make more money. Artist share should be split evenly between the performer and the songwriter. You write and perform/record the song, you get it all. You cover someone's tune and they get half, which is what they deserve because you couldn't have played/recorded it if they/you hadn't brought it into existence.

Simple, elegant, and it guarantees that at least 50% of the money that you pay into Spotify goes to artists. It eliminates any gaming of the system by repeatedly playing your songs or whatever people do to try to increase their own revenue. If you get more plays, you get paid. Turn a fan on to your music and you get a chunk of their $5.

I welcome your critique, but I probably won't read it. I'll be listening to music or outside or doing one of a million things (basically anything) that's a better use of time than reading the comments section of anything.

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