Spotify & Music Money Today

Ned Raggett asked me to move this into a blog post so he could refer people to it, so here it is from a Facebook discussion.

Brian John Mitchell

Anyone seen these press releases some indie labels are doing about boycotting Spotify?

· · · Wednesday at 8:49pm

    • Sage L. WeatherfordNot I. Elaboration?

      Wednesday at 8:56pm ·
    • Brian John Mitchell

      A third independent metal label Prosthetic Records has pulled it’s content from …See More
      Wednesday at 8:57pm · ·
    • Sage L. Weatherford‎0.003 euro per listen or 0.029 euro for listening to the whole album. That’s pretty sad… Amazon mp3s is a 70/30 split for the artist (70 amazon, 30 artist) at least

      Wednesday at 9:12pm ·
    • Sage L. Weatherfordsorry, other way around on the split.

      Wednesday at 9:14pm ·
    • Jon DeRosa I’m looking at my BMI royalty statement right now. Over 6,000 plays of Aarktica’s “A Plague of Frost in the Guise of Diamonds” from “Internet” (source) = $0.41.

      This is nothing new. Internet radio/streaming has NEVER paid. Why is everyone upset about Spotify. Rhapsody, Live365 (et al) have been doing this for years.

      Wednesday at 9:14pm ·
    • Sage L. WeatherfordSo much for sitting this one out. :D I understand that it has been happening for years. Its hard to still not be bothered by it when crunching the numbers though.

      Wednesday at 9:18pm ·
    • Jon DeRosa

      Sage, I couldn’t resist, though I know I will be disagreed with.

      That being what I said regarding internet plays, and without being crass, placements of Aarktica songs on MTV and other networks have provided a substantial revenue for the first quarter of 2011, via this current statement.

      I say this in the least-snarky way and most helpful way possible: I think musicians should stop worrying about how their music is being shared and start taking advantage of it. Get over the idea of music “ownership.” It’s finished, guys. Like it or not.

      Sales never accounted for a large portion of us low-selling bands anyway. The insane demand for music in licensing for TV & Film is finally leveling the playing field for ambient/experimental artists, finally allowing us to make money from some of the music we composed years ago. Just something to think about.

      Wednesday at 9:23pm · · 1 person
    • P. D. Wilderyeah, my last solo album is on spotify, and i soon as i saw that, i knew i’d never see a cent from it…

      Wednesday at 10:18pm ·
    • P. D. WilderJon DeRosa, we still need to talk about BMI!

      Wednesday at 10:18pm ·
    • Brian John Mitchell

      Music licensing may be leveling the playing field for Aarktica because of some personal business contacts Jon’s made over the years, but it’s not leveling the playing field for the majority of us. There’s a lot of predatory practices in th…See More
      Wednesday at 10:47pm ·
    • Jon DeRosa

      Brian, I think large part of being a (semi/professional) musician is developing business relationships that may or may not lead to revenue down the road. A lot of the relationships I’ve made have really only started to pay off now, after 10+ years. And many relationships have never really paid off at all.

      I realize situations differ depending on ownership of master rights (et al), but my point really is that most artists have more control over how their catalog is being utilized than they think.

      I think you’ll agree that the classic artist complaint over the years has been that his/her label failed to promote an album properly, resulting in low sales and lost revenue. While I have *definitely* seen half-assed “promotion,” in my years, I think the biggest detriment for artists is labels who prevent their own artists from taking advantage of placement opportunities because there may not be what they deem “substantial” upfront fees that they can dip into. The most lucrative placements I’ve seen do not offer an upfront fee and are entirely determined after the fact on the publishing/writing end. So if the label doesn’t own any of the publishing (which they shouldn’t), why should they allow an artist to “devalue” their catalog this way?

      The answer: It’s the only way they can really be sure that the artist is going to make any money back from their album, and the results compound exponentially down the road. It’s a good faith move I would hope most labels would make, even if it involves a renegotiation with the artist to take a percentage on the back end, if it means loosening up their hold of the master rights. Unless that label paid every cent for the recording of that song/album (rare on our level), I don’t see why a label should be making decisions on how those songs are used.

      That said, I do foresee some sort of digital reform in the next number of years that will require higher fees to be paid to artists by digital music services, which may also result in less “free” services to users. We should consult Kurzweil on this, he’s usually spot on.

      21 hours ago ·
    • Brian John Mitchell

      Jon Yeah, the business development aspect is really integral to making it as a musician & the Silber business model has always called for developing relationships with college music directors & DJs with the thought that these folks go on to have music integral in their life & become music supervisors, record store owners, booking agents, etc – however that plan hasn’t worked out nearly as well as I anticipated. In fact the only time I can recall when it really paid off is when Jerry Rubino went on to be one of the main guys at the alternative station at Sirius & the Silber stuff was all getting spins until the Sirius/XM combine eliminated Jerry’s job. Part of the problem too is when email became the standard of contact instead of phone for the music directors, the personal contact aspect has started to drift away.

      You know I talk to a lot of other labels & a lot of artists & when I tell them I typically send out 200 promos they think I’m insane. But I do think it is part of why people think Silber is a label that is successful (& I suppose in a lot of ways it is, just not financially).

      I do think it’s worth noting that Brian McKenzie got a pretty big music placement on MTV that got him several thousand in royalties & it did not generate a sales spike. Because a lot of places do that thing where you sign off to not collect royalties (which I think may be a breach of a PRO contract anyway?) because the exposure is going to pay off.

      I think a lot of labels take 25% of publishing because it has it in those contracts in the $20 books on how to run a label. Personally I think as you say, that’s only right if the label invests a lot of money prior to the release. I mean, it used to make more sense when you needed to pay to have a publishing account with a PRO, but now that you don’t have to do that it seems unfair.

      But my point is, EVERY blog or book on how to make it in the music industry talks about music placements like it is an easy thing to happen & that simply isn’t true. The few placements I have gotten have been from personal contacts & sometimes have ended friendships (like when I got Jamie Barnes $400 for a song placement in a movie that never ended up coming out & the guy asked for the money back & I just negotiated him to send Jamie all the money (note, that release still hasn’t broken even)), despite having music listed with a dozen music libraries.

      12 hours ago ·
    • Brian John MitchellIt’s also worth noting I try to get everyone associated with Silber to sign up with a PRO & it seems like they only do it half the time.

      12 hours ago ·
    • Ned Raggett You guys really need to spin off this whole discussion into a blog repost so I can refer everyone to it.
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2 Responses to Spotify & Music Money Today

  1. anthony monday says:

    missed this. I certainly have never seen a cent in any of my Carta ASCAP statements from any internet plays at all, though I know they happen. It’s a mystery to me. I’m fortunate (maybe) enough that I don’t count on music for any portion of my income and it provides a decent tax write off for me, but it would be nice to see, like, $5 at some point from one of these services.

  2. The internet plays I just got on the current BMI statement I have are from a two year old record. Most of which is for Rhapsody streaming play (which I would have thought I’d get that money from Rhapsody via my digital aggregator?). I don’t know exactly how things work, but it seems pretty random as far as actually getting money from a PRO because most of the places that play indie radio (community & college stations) have tiny broadcast radiuses & often get a special license to not need to pay the PROs.