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As Music Streaming Grows, Royalties Slow To a Trickle 665

Posted by Soulskill
from the go-big-or-go-home dept.
concealment sends this excerpt from the NY Times: "Late last year, Zoe Keating, an independent musician from Northern California, provided an unusually detailed case in point. In voluminous spreadsheets posted to her Tumblr blog, she revealed the royalties she gets from various services, down to the ten-thousandth of a cent. Even for an under-the-radar artist like Ms. Keating, who describes her style as “avant cello,” the numbers painted a stark picture of what it is like to be a working musician these days. After her songs had been played more than 1.5 million times on Pandora over six months, she earned $1,652.74. On Spotify, 131,000 plays last year netted just $547.71, or an average of 0.42 cent a play. 'In certain types of music, like classical or jazz, we are condemning them to poverty if this is going to be the only way people consume music,' Ms. Keating said. ... The question dogging the music industry is whether these micropayments can add up to anything substantial. 'No artist will be able to survive to be professionals except those who have a significant live business, and that’s very few,' said Hartwig Masuch, chief executive of BMG Rights Management."
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As Music Streaming Grows, Royalties Slow To a Trickle

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  • Demand More (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jdastrup (1075795) on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:10PM (#42766645)
    Is negotiating a higher price not possible?
  • Shuffle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jythie (914043) on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:11PM (#42766665)
    Every time there is a change, every time there is something new, every time there is a shift, the publishers find a way to twist the numbers so artists get an even smaller cut of the profits.
  • 42 cents a play? (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:11PM (#42766667)

    That sounds like an amazing high rate of return. I can't think of any music that I would consider worth paying 42 cents per play for.

  • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:12PM (#42766675) Homepage Journal

    No longer do you need a sleazy music company executive to steal your rights and material, a posh recording studio, expensive band or studio musicians. You can now make up your own music in the comfort of your own home and sell it yourself. Perhaps, after all the megastars and millions and billions extracted by an industry, we are coming back to the common music of the people, no more difficult to obtain than to go down to the pub and listen to a band of minstrels who wandered into town.

    You want quality music, you pay for quality music. You want garage music, you pay far less.

  • by grasshoppa (657393) <skennedy AT tpno-co DOT org> on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:15PM (#42766717) Homepage

    I have a hard time getting worked up about their dire predictions. Let's pretend the worst comes to pass; as a consumer, the downside for me is that the crap being produced is even less varied than previously. If that's really a problem, then a need will develop for more interesting music, and inevitably, someone will address that need.

    These "artists" are not owed a living. They are not exempt from capitalism because of their chosen profession.

  • Re:Demand More (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:15PM (#42766721)

    That's okay. Slashdot will whine and cry about how they don't even want to pay for streaming music and fully advocate piracy.

  • by flyneye (84093) on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:17PM (#42766743) Homepage

    The royalty model is screwed, old, antiquated and invites corruptions from many sources.
    Provide your music free to the world and charge for live performance.
    Your free music is your very best promotion.
    Musicians now have the power to control their own destinies on a level playing field. The cream will rise and the crap will fall, thus guaranteeing much better entertainment than the music industry would provide when it was relevant. If your "avant cello" music doesn't bring crowds to performances, you are either performing at the wrong venue , or perhaps you should practice. Perhaps targeting your promotions would be a better consideration. New York will have better opportunities to fill rooms than say, in Cleveland or Oklahoma City.
    Free the music and charge for performance, you can't go wrong. It's nearly idiot proof.

  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:21PM (#42766785) Journal

    Manufacturing workers in the US lost their jobs by the millions through no fault of their own. Thats the way the economy works. We aren't condemning anyone to poverty. If you want to do nothing other than make music, you get what the job pays. You can try to do something else to earn more money, if you'd like. The economy of a free society in uncertain times is a harsh mistress.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:24PM (#42766815)

    No, we're condemning them to getting a fucking day job like the rest of us mopes.

    Alternatively, our dear cellist can get a gig in a house band, though that may clash with her sensitive artists' feelings.

    It may pain all of us a bit, but perhaps as a society we can't afford to have full time professional avant guard cellists no one has heard of.

  • Re:Get a real job (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:26PM (#42766849) Homepage Journal

    What the AC said. I seem to remember this concept, but I don't remember which founding father said it:
    "I study agriculture so that my son can study medicine or engineering, so that he can make enough money so that his son can study art and liturature".

    I'm sory, but nobody ever intended artists to be rich in a meritocracy. Art is too easy. It is what you go into when you are *already* reasonably financially independent.

  • Re:Demand More (Score:5, Insightful)

    by beelsebob (529313) on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:30PM (#42766903)

    I don't actually understand why demanding a higher price is necessary. As an example, if I bought a CD for $10 with 15 tracks on it, I'd likely listen to those tracks a good few hundred times. That's a likely 15,000 plays for $10, aka between 0.6 and 0.06 per play. When you consider that only 10% of that is likely to ever see the artist, that's gonna be 0.06-0.006. By that metric, this woman is getting great value from the streaming services compared to me actually buying the music.

  • Re:Shuffle (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:31PM (#42766919)

    People. Stop with the artist talk. They're entertainers that sing. Music doesn't pay much, entertainment does. Just look at the top 50 whatever music genre and you'll see what I mean.

    So, if they don't want to be "starving artists", then, they should seek other revenue forms, live performances, private and public concerts, actually do something active, instead of just sticking in front of the scree and complaining that money isn't coming.

    Oh yeah, another thing, that music, apparently through the new laws, is going to be bringing them money through out their entire lives, those of their childre, grandchildren, great-grandchildren etc etc, so, I can't honestly say I feel for them.

  • by thesameguy (1047504) on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:33PM (#42766939)

    Gotta agree. The vast majority of people can't get paid what they want for doing things they also want to do. Most of us choose a career with a happy intersection of "good pay" and "not terrible job." Many are not even that fortunate, and have to go with crap pay for a crap job. Crap pay for a good doesn't seem all that terrible. I would also put forward the notion that if the only thing you are qualified to do is make music AND you have specific income requirements, consider making popular music. Being upset about low pay rates for obscure music is akin to getting upset about slow steam engine sales or the low street price of the abacus. Wanna get paid well? Best bet is getting involved in something that everyone needs, not something a couple people want.

  • by cdrguru (88047) on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:34PM (#42766943) Homepage

    Why would you purchase something that you can select to stream to a mobile device any time you want? Seems silly to me.

    What streaming has done is given the power of the radio "request" to everyone and they all get their requests instantly. No need to buy anything, just make your selections and listen.

    Oh, and if you want an MP3 file (for some unknown reason), that's what BitTorrent is for.

    So who is getting paid here? Well, the streaming service is getting something, either a membership fee or ads. Both are a pittance because nobody is going to pay a high membership fee and the ads aren't generating lots of sales so they aren't very valuable. With that, the streaming service can pay the artists something - something like $0.0042 a play or about $500 a year.

    There isn't any money in it. And there isn't anything that can be done to somehow push more money in or take more money out.

    The problem with the "up and coming" band just getting by with touring is that there is no "coming". They might get enough exposure to net a better grade bar or two but nobody is paying for promotion. They are probably lucky if they can afford to stop off at Office Depot to run off some flyers to pass around. What the record label is for is paying for promotion - and making money by backing a few successful and a few more unsuccessful bands. They have seriously fallen down on that trying to control their risk, just like the rest of businesses today.

    No risk = no reward. But that formula hasn't been taught very well in MBA class.

    What "publishing" in general was 50 years ago was taking on 10 things, be it books, bands or whatever and promoting the heck out of them With reasonably good selection up front you had something like 7 flops, two moderate successes and one pretty good performer - which altogether paid for the promotion of all ten with some profit left over. The problem is the MBAs came in and decided they could make more money by getting rid of the seven flops without considering how you do that. So we have the entire spectrum of "publishers" trying to find the three successes without encountering any flops at all. Lots of really smart (and successful) people figured out a long time ago that you can't do that reliably and this lesson is being relearned every day. Unfortunately, MBA schools taught that you just had to be smart enough to find the three successes and all would be good. We are experiencing what happens when this is being applied across the spectrum of publishing - books, movies, music, software, magazines, etc.

  • by decora (1710862) on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:35PM (#42766951) Journal

    when you hear old Jazz musicians talk about New York, they frequently reminisce about the day they got their Union card.

    the tech industry is so anti-union it would make people from the 50s blush.

    so basically thats the end of music. except for auto-tuned horse shit puked out by quasi strippers who can't sing.

    Truly, this is the Triumph of the Nerds.

  • Re:Shuffle (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kenja (541830) on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:35PM (#42766955)

    why is the money going to the industry and not the artists?

    Because the "artists" signed the contract. It's the same reason the money goes to the company selling the software I write and not me.

  • Re:Demand More (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kheldan (1460303) on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:35PM (#42766959) Journal
    It's almost like people have forgotten what broadcast radio was, still is, and that online streaming is more or less the 2013 equivalent of broadcast radio. Remember how we had to pay a subscription fee to listen to the radio? You don't, because we never did and never will. Places like Britain where you pay a license fee for owning/operating receivers doesn't count, and I'm not talking about satellite services like XM, either. The way it used to work is radio stations would give public exposure to artists' work, and in turn if people liked it they'd go to a record store and buy a copy. Of course that entire business model is now hopelessly broken and everyone wants everything to be digital and stored on their PMP, and so-called 'internet radio' is not in any way equivalent to the broadcast radio of old, in part because you need an internet connection to receive them, so you're already paying for that -- and why should you have to pay twice? I don't think that internet radio is going to ever be a viable sole income source for artists, and frankly I don't know what's going to end up replacing the old business model, but I am of the opinion that expecting to make a living off your music being played streaming online is not realistic. We are in a transitional era for the music business, as the old industry is still in it's death throes, and it's replacement hasn't risen out of the chaos yet.
  • Re:Demand More (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Stoutlimb (143245) on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:38PM (#42766977)

    This is the value the market has decided in this case. To quote the whiner: "'No artist will be able to survive to be professionals except those who have a significant live business, and that’s very few," (emphasis mine).

    That's right. Unless you're actually willing to put time and effort into the industry, you're not going to make very much money. There's nothing wrong with that, welcome to the real world. No more free rent. The rock star lifestyle just slammed into the real world where people work hard every day to pay their bills. Why shouldn't musicians have to "sing for their supper" like everyone else does?

  • by Dishevel (1105119) on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:53PM (#42767121)

    Absolutely.
    Because as we all know there was no such thing as "Music" before the artists were protected by Unions and Major Labels.
    Now as the major labels and the unions are going down the amount of new music available to the public has dropped precipitously.
    Much like when the VCR killed the movie industry. Wish we never got those damned things.

  • Re:Demand More (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ZipK (1051658) on Friday February 01, 2013 @07:56PM (#42767149)
    Streaming services like Rdio, MOG and Rhapsody are poor analogs to broadcast radio, as the listener chooses exactly what they want to hear from a vast library of music. Given the ease with which these services can be streamed through home music systems, as well as the growing connectivity of mobile devices, these services become more of a replacement for a personal collection of music than the advertising service of broadcast radio. Even services like Pandora, which don't give you specific choice, provide individualized programs that are a great deal closer to a library replacement than is/was the single-program of broadcast.
  • Re:Demand More (Score:5, Insightful)

    by s.petry (762400) on Friday February 01, 2013 @08:01PM (#42767199)

    I would not even think of it as transitional. Some big bands did charge Radio stations royalties for playing their songs. Obviously, those fees were payed by Radio stations with revenue from advertisers. This allowed larger radio stations to play "the big new song by ...".

    Seriously though, this person is getting upset because they don't have a large volume of listeners, not because the songs are not paid enough for listening. Example: A big Radio show in Detroit hits roughly 200,000 listeners every time it's played. For a month, the song gets played a couple times a day, then vanishes from the air as a "new" song takes it's spot. Rather quickly, over the course of a year a "good" song goes from twice daily to never. Such is the way of music.

    Now as an artist, I don't count on listeners for revenue and never have. Like you mentioned, I rely on them to like the song enough to go buy it. Whether that's a CD/DVD, Vinyl, or itunes makes no difference. The "PURCHASE" is the revenue. And it's always going to be nothing -> lots -> nothing. This is why artists put out "new songs" and "new records". They even make money from concerts because you know.. people like the artist enough to want to go see them "Live".

    This person is complaining about two things: First is revenue that has _NEVER_ been there for artists. The second is that they don't get enough of that revenue that has never been there.

    To be a bit more concise, I don't mention royalties intentionally. In fact there are numerous potential revenue boosters I neglect. Not important for what the artist is complaining about.

  • Re:Demand More (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nzac (1822298) on Friday February 01, 2013 @08:02PM (#42767203)

    Not everyone listens to their CDs 100s of times.
    I don't think i have have even come close for any CD, i might make it to 20 - 40 for a good album. Think how long 4500 min (100 plays of the album with 3min tracks) is if you believe that is the norm. No average artist will be listened to the required amount to achieve the breakeven price.

    Streaming eliminates the required investment to listen to something else so unless you get advertised on the front page and your whole album is worth listening to you wont anywhere near the same number of plays as a CD does.

  • Re:Demand More (Score:5, Insightful)

    by s.petry (762400) on Friday February 01, 2013 @08:04PM (#42767217)

    Oh, and another quick point. Some forms of music are always condemned to poverty. If it's not popular, people don't listen or buy the music. Comparing "Pop" or "Rock" to Jazz has always showed a wage/income disparity with musicians.

  • Re:Demand More (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Velex (120469) on Friday February 01, 2013 @08:20PM (#42767359) Homepage Journal

    Undoing a mod to open my gob (sorry there kheldan), but I find this right here the most interesting part of the whole mess.

    14th century: You're probably not a musician, not in Europe anyway. Or at least if you are the hit of the day goes something like this: Pie Jesu Domine, donna eis requiem *thwack*

    15th century: You're a musician. You get paid to perform. You perform to get paid.

    16th century: You're a musician. You get paid to perform. You perform to get paid.

    17th century: You're a musician. You get paid to perform. You perform to get paid. If you're very lucky, you might get a fat patronage, but chances are you probably aren't one of the few composers who gets this deal.

    18th century: You're a musician. You get paid to perform. You perform to get paid. If you're very lucky, you might get a fat patronage, but chances are you probably aren't one of the few composers who gets this deal.

    19th century: You're a musician. You get paid to perform. You perform to get paid.

    20th century (at least the latter half): You're a musician. You probably get paid to perform in a local cover band or in a generic orchestra. You perform to get paid. Or hit the jackpot, get signed on to a label, and become a quad-zillionaire and ensure your great-great-grandchildren will never need to work a day in their lives.

    21st century: You're a musician. You get paid to perform. You perform to get paid. People on the other side of the globe can be exposed to your music. Most people won't give you a dime for the copy of the recording they have no matter how much it brightens up their day or helps them define who they are, but some people (like me) will still be willing to hand over some cash to get an official CD (SD card with FLACs or similar in the future?) with printed artwork and a lyrics book with more artwork and photos of your band. There's no need for us to meet in person. We can conduct this exchange entirely over the internet and via courier services. If you're very lucky, you might land a nice deal for a movie or video game, but chances are you probably aren't one of the few composers who gets this deal.

    So, basically, what I'm trying to do is illustrate what I'm assuming your point is. The 20th century with its quad-zillionaires is the abberation here, but at least the 21st century is brighter for the average musician when compared to any century before (except the 20th).

    The MAFIAA and artists who think they're entitled to be quad-zillionaires or whine about how the quad-zillionaire rock star is a dying breed as though that's always how it's been since the beginning of time (which it hasn't) deserve absolutely no sympathy. There's a reason I'm learning new frameworks for my day job instead of getting serious about learning how to play more than a few simple tunes on my guitar. One of those activities gets me paid; the other does not. (Although it might get me something that rhymes with paid--maybe I'm actually a starving artist too! Look how clever I am! Give me quad-zillions too!)

    I really only have a passing understanding of music history and don't listen to nearly as much classical as when I was a teenager, so please feel free to correct my timeline if I'm off, but I'm pretty sure I've got the gist of it (I hope). *ducks*

  • by citizenr (871508) on Friday February 01, 2013 @08:25PM (#42767407) Homepage

    Getting paid while sitting on her ass not working and She still complains? Wow.
    I want to get paid 0.42 cents every time someone sends an email through one of the servers/routers/cables I installed. And my children, and their grand children, They should also be paid for that!

  • by tlambert (566799) on Friday February 01, 2013 @08:29PM (#42767459)

    when you hear old Jazz musicians talk about New York, they frequently reminisce about the day they got their Union card.

    You know that the reason you got your union card was so you could play clubs, right? It wasn't so you could play your song once in a studio, and then kick back and collect a monthly royalty check for the rest of your life.

  • by gilgongo (57446) on Friday February 01, 2013 @08:29PM (#42767461) Homepage Journal

    MOD. PARENT. UP.

    Really. If we were taking about nurses, or teachers, or even miners or ship builders, the urgency of this issue would be a thousand times more intense. But in the grand scheme of things? This is - I am afraid to say - JUST MUSIC. It's music. Fun if you can write a nice tune, great to listen to. But frankly, not worth our angst here. You don't make a living making nice music? My commiserations, but perhaps you should not be expecting to make one any more than I do in my profession (UI design, if you must know).

  • by Nexion (1064) on Friday February 01, 2013 @08:58PM (#42767719)

    I agree, and I also find it odd that so many musicians feel like they should not have to work. Compare to me as a programmer. Both have to build their skill set, both have to use creativity and logic, we both have to produce works and others consume these works. I have to go into work at least 5 days a week, and they want to sit on their ass and plunk away on an instrument while getting paid a ransom for what they put out. Me, I'm constantly improving what was done, producing more and supporting those consumers. This applies to a programmer in a large corp all the way down to a lone wolf. We fail to do this we end up not making money.

    Maybe I should go in to work on Monday and tell them they need to pay me my salary for the rest of my life for the work I've already done. I wonder how well that will go over.

    Not all musicians are like this one who laments not having "a significant live business". No, I like bars with live music where some guy I've never heard of is plugging away at his trade. If he is cool I'll buy him a drink, and if I like his music I'll perhaps buy a CD. This person is actually working... they show up for work dressed, skilled and with equipment in hand. I respect this person for it. If you want my cash you better be offering more then some recording tweaked digitally, mastered and mass produced with zero engagement from you.

    IMHO, Zoe Keating and musicians with the same attitude are the patent trolls of the music industry. If Ms Keating wants to earn more she needs to engage her fans more. Do more shows... hell, some rappers make their money just walking up to people in public, meeting them, to sell them their CD for 5$. They have their hustle on, where is yours Ms Keating? I find it ironic that some thug ass gansta rapper politely asks me if I would like buy his CD to support him... signed at no extra charge, yet at the end of this posted story we have a group who would love to reach into everyone's pocket and just take our money.

    I'm a musician too Zoe... check this out, I'll play the world's smallest violin for you.

  • Re:Demand More (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Friday February 01, 2013 @09:02PM (#42767755)

    No, but most people listen to the same 20 albums or so for their ENTIRE LIVES, with a smattering of whatever's current at the moment mixed in. At least everyone I know (none of them major audiophiles either) fits that profile. They all have 20-30 favorite go-to albums they're always listening to (usually concentrated in whichever decade they were in their early 20s, but not always), and then 4-5 other albums (or 4-5 albums worth of singles in many cases) they're currently listening to.

    So, the same 20 songs for five years is extreme, but the basic principle still applies to most people.

  • by Vaphell (1489021) on Friday February 01, 2013 @09:21PM (#42767873)

    But saying their ability to earn a living should suffer because of something not directly related to their skill as a musician seems wrong.

    deal with it. Many people don't get awesome jobs because they are perceived as awkward or whatever by the HR drones, even if they have all the raw skills required. It happens daily and musicians are not some special breed of people.

  • Re:Demand More (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Friday February 01, 2013 @09:30PM (#42767937)

    "It sucks making pennies..."

    Now, wait a minute. Seems to me this isn't bad at all. I don't know that this is "down" from the past at all... in the radio days (not very long ago), 0.1 cents per play would have been a pretty good return. Especially when you consider that each play was probably heard by thousands of people on average, while Pandora (for example) probably only averages about 1.2 people per play. As much as 0.4 cents or so per play back then would have been a dream come true. And if you figure it on a per-capita basis, why, she's committing highway robbery.

    I see nothing in the article that indicates this is a lower royalty rate than back then. Further, in the article someone said:

    "In certain types of music, like classical or jazz, we are condemning them to poverty if this is going to be the only way people consume music,"

    ... okay. But please explain to me how this represents any kind of change. How many rich cellists do you know? For that matter, how many cellists make much of any kind of money by actually selling their music to fans? Yoyo Ma and maybe at most a few others?

    If you ask me, this is non-news.

  • by Americano (920576) on Friday February 01, 2013 @09:39PM (#42768005)

    I also find it odd that so many musicians feel like they should not have to work.

    So making music isn't working? Let me guess, you think it's limos everywhere, all the liquor & drugs you can consume, private jets from city to city, and a nonstop parade of 18 year old supermodels through your bedroom?

    Compare to me as a programmer. Both have to build their skill set, both have to use creativity and logic, we both have to produce works and others consume these works.

    So the jobs are very similar! How much does an average programmer make, versus an average working musician, again? And would you take a programming job offering the same wage as a working musician, without grumbling about how little you got paid?

    I have to go into work at least 5 days a week, and they want to sit on their ass and plunk away on an instrument while getting paid a ransom for what they put out.

    As opposed to the average programmer, who doesn't sit on his ass all day and plunk away on a keyboard, while demanding a ransom for his work because he knows Visual Basic? I don't think Ms. Keating suggested she wanted a "ransom" for what she put out - she's saying "this style of music distribution sucks for musicians," and she's right - it does.

    Thought exercise:

    Your employer calls you in and says, "you know, we're moving to a streaming model. You're going to get half a cent every time somebody uses your software, instead of a salary. And since nobody loses anything by copying it, we're going to also take the software you produced, and share it online so that customers can download it for free. Unfortunately, we can't track that usage, so you won't get paid at all for those - but it's not like you lost a sale, if the software wasn't free, they probably wouldn't have bought it anyway! But cheer up, you should be excited just to simply have the skill to be a creative computer professional with the skills to do this - the effort is its own reward!

    What's that? You're upset? Why should anybody pay you a ransom every year just so you can keep the same buggy piece of shit running while making a few enhancements and playing with yourself in a bunch of useless meetings? If you want to get paid, get out there and write NEW software that will delight and amaze our customers in return for fractions of a penny per software use! You gotta HUSTLE, son!"

    Think that sounds like a great way to live? Would we be justified in telling you to "shut up, you're not entitled to a living writing software, be better at it and you'll probably get paid," or would you take issue with that?

    Your general attitude that the creation and performance of music isn't "work," and thus has no value or right to be compensated, Is especially delicious, given the obvious parallels to the comparative physical & mental efforts between music & programming. Do you REALLY think your boss pays you 75k/year to "show up in your cubicle 40 hours a week," regardless of what you actually produce during that time?

  • Re:Demand More (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Grayhand (2610049) on Friday February 01, 2013 @09:47PM (#42768073)

    This is the value the market has decided in this case. To quote the whiner: "'No artist will be able to survive to be professionals except those who have a significant live business, and that’s very few," (emphasis mine).

    That's right. Unless you're actually willing to put time and effort into the industry, you're not going to make very much money. There's nothing wrong with that, welcome to the real world. No more free rent. The rock star lifestyle just slammed into the real world where people work hard every day to pay their bills. Why shouldn't musicians have to "sing for their supper" like everyone else does?

    "The rock star lifestyle just slammed into the real world where people work hard every day to pay their bills." Really? A cellist leading a rock star lifestyle? Are you that desperate to make a point that you don't bother to think about what you are saying? Her point is there's very little demand for live performance so it's not that's she's being lazy as you claim. Her living in the past would have come from modest sales which have been replaced by streaming her music which has resulted in a drastic reduction in income. This constant claim that only live performances are worthy of your hard earned dollars is irrational and a claim that only showed up when the internet provided an option to paying for music. I haven't been to a live performance in 20 years but I still buy music regularly, all be it most of it is from the 60s,70s and 80s. The only ones that will survive are big corporate backed groups and indies that strictly do it as a hobby, translated not very good. It takes time to become good especially when it comes to learning an instrument. They say Jimmy Hendricks would walk down the stairs then to a local movie theater and watch a movie the whole time playing his electric guitar without an amp. Hard to have that kind of dedication when you have to work 8 hours a day at a Starbucks. The whole take away should not be that artists are greedy rock stars it's that the streaming model only makes money for the companies streaming. Where's the righteous indignation at artists being taken advantage of? So it's okay for corporations to make money, it's only greed when artists make money?

  • by jafac (1449) on Friday February 01, 2013 @09:52PM (#42768109) Homepage

    You misunderstand what musicians do.

    And the "market" for live music is pretty limited actually.

    At least for "bar" music - most people just want to hear cover bands play music they know, by "pop" bands, and they want the music to be not TOO loud, so they can converse, and not TOO aggressive, or challenging, because - frankly, it's background noise for their drinking.

    Many musicians study their art in depth, working through their primary, secondary, and postsecondary education, and also attending special training on the side, then qualifying for highly competitive programs, to go to 4 year schools, often going on to get a Master's. Their equipment is not cheap. The services they need, to record, are not cheap. These musicians are not playing what 90% of people want to listen to at bars. And you might want to apply your libertarian "free market" ideals to that, and say; "well these people need to go flip burgers and wait on tables or something." But there's a significant audience of people who want to listen to those recordings, and these musicians do contribute significantly to our culture. (a great deal more than your average lying car-salesman or steroid-junky sports-star.)

    So let me tell you where you can put your world's smallest violin.

  • by Kielistic (1273232) on Friday February 01, 2013 @10:19PM (#42768283)
    That's a good rant but I believe the point was a programmer doesn't get paid per execution of their program. They get paid once to write it. Possibly additionally to continue to support it.
  • by ATMAvatar (648864) on Friday February 01, 2013 @10:19PM (#42768285) Journal
    The time and effort it takes to record a single album of 10-15 songs each year is nothing close to the 2000+ hours you spend on a full-time job. Touring is where the hard work happens for a musician. The argument made down this comment thread is that recorded music by itself should not constitute a career in itself - it should only act as supplemental income. I've yet to see anyone here say that a touring musician should be unable to support themselves.
  • by Rinikusu (28164) on Friday February 01, 2013 @10:54PM (#42768477)

    That's .40 cents, not 40 cents. Not even a half-penny per play.

    But the difference is that you can make the same parallels between coding and music (I do both). You produce works-for-hire. You come in to your regular job, you get paid to produce *something*, typically specced out by someone else based on someone else's needs/ideas, etc. The equivalent of this in the music world are the studio musicians who get paid a salary (or contracted out) to perform a particular piece of music, usually composed/written by someone else, and you hear these pieces of work in commercials, movies, corporate training videos, whatever.

    On the other side, you've got coders that aren't getting paid that are working on their own software, their own website, something they think that might make a million dollars or might make them zero. many programmers do this because they love to program and have no expectation of financial reward, others think this is the next google and want to be billionaires, and a whole swathe of folks in between those mentalities. I think screenwriters call this kind of work "spec" work, in that there's no paycheck in the creation, with the expectation that it might be valuable once it's complete. Same sort of deal with musicians. They write their own music, they put together a band, rehearse, and then go out and play it live. For many musicians, they do this because they love to create music and have no expectation of financial reward. Others think they're going to be the next Radiohead and will make millions and can spend the rest of their lives writing music on their own time instead of working around the 9-5 grind (and seriously, I know some folks think that musicians are lazy fuckers, but most of my bandmates all work 2 and 3 jobs leading up to tours so they have enough money to pay bills while they slog from show to show on a daily basis. It's fun, but breaking even is a good tour, much less profitable. My last tour turned a profit of about $20/person after 3 weeks on the road. It happens.) In my particular instance, I program because it's a steady paycheck, and a really nice one, at that. But that means that all my musical pursuits are basically a hobby. I'm too old to tour 9 months out of the year and then try to find a shitty part-time job for the other 3 months so I can help pay rent on whatever shithole apartment I have to share with a girlfriend of *shudder* the fucking drummer. And just try figuring out what kind of jobs you'll be hired for knowing that you'll have to quit after 3-5 months to go do another multi-month tour to support your new record you probably paid for yourself.

    I like to get paid for whatever work I do. I do not create musical "works for hire", although it's true that many musicians do this for a living. I'd also compare them to the cube coder: the guys that come in for the paycheck, but you know they've already clocked out a long time ago. It's sad, really. I'm sure some genuinely love doing it, or put up with it, but just like all the programmers I know, almost every one of them has a personal project they'd rather get paid to work on and not some bullshit report generator so the executives can pat themselves on the back and give each other a nice blowjob.

    It's not your fault, it's not my fault, but that's the reality.

  • Re:Demand More (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jrumney (197329) on Friday February 01, 2013 @11:16PM (#42768601) Homepage
    No, the problem here is that she gets to see her raw listenership numbers. In the days of radio, she would have got a $50 cheque from ASCAP once a year, and not had any expectation of making a living off her music. Now she sees "OMG, 1.5M plays of my song, that's a lot!" and expects to become a millionaire rockstar overnight.
  • Re:Demand More (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Stoutlimb (143245) on Friday February 01, 2013 @11:24PM (#42768625)

    On the other hand, more albums can mean more fame, therefore more listeners per album. Plus more opportunity to make more money in other venues, or cross licensing in other forms such as movies, tv shows, etc. More opportunity to perform, and make real money. Why is there some presumption that anyone can, or even should make a "living" just from royalties? Most of the real money is in selling albums and making performances.

    Also is it our fault she chose a profession with little hope for huge money or international stardom? What's she hoping for, wealth like Beyonce just for playing a cello very well? It sounds like following her dream has led her into the poor house because it's not financially viable. People can't just randomly choose to do something in their life and expect there to be a living at the end of the tunnel, forethought is required as well.

  • Re:Demand More (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sco08y (615665) on Friday February 01, 2013 @11:59PM (#42768813)

    Having written all that, I would like to say I agree that in general, it's deplorable what the music companies pay artists, and that should change. But I'm not seeing anything new here.

    How? It's a field with an overabundance of supply and not that much demand.

  • Re:Demand More (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rockout (1039072) on Saturday February 02, 2013 @12:31AM (#42768961)
    Whether it's "okay" or not is purely a matter of opinion. The stark reality is, that's what streaming services are paying artists. If they get together and form some kind of union, they'll be able to extract more. Until then, they'll have to hit 40 million+ plays per year of their songs in order to make a living solely off of getting played on streaming services. Allowing your music to be streamed and getting paid for it beats having it downloaded off the Pirate Bay.
  • by Americano (920576) on Saturday February 02, 2013 @12:52AM (#42769077)

    I don't collect massive royalties off everything I create.

    That's great - neither does a musician. More similarities!

    Are musicians going to start sending me music updates?

    Sure, it's on a subscription model. You pay them for a copy of the original CD, and then they tour around and you can buy a ticket to hear reworked versions of those songs. And they deliver it to you - sounds like a bargain.

    I had some friends who had a band they each got around 150-200 for four hours work... in a bar... drinking free drinks. Yes... yes I would.

    No, they made 150 to 200 for a DAY OF WORK.

    Actually I average in excess of 50 hours a week. I often have to work at odd hours... travel... hoist 50lb+ servers into racks... blah blah blah... you don't know much about the demands of a career in technology do you? It's not music distribution, it is advertising at best.

    Great, so even more similarities to your job then - touring musicians will spend the night driving to their next show; when they arrive in town, they will often have a press appearance of some sort (un-paid), where they'll spend an hour or two at the local radio station, or a local record store, etc., hoping to generate a little buzz for their show later tonight. They might get to walk around town a bit, or they might not. They'll be carrying their gear into the club, setting it up, doing soundchecks, breaking everything down, loading the van up, and driving for several hours to the next gig. Plenty of audio gear will weight 50+ pounds, and they're carrying it in and out of places that are a lot less safe than your server room. You don't know much about the demands of a career in music, do you? You seem to think that it's all just "limo brings me to the red carpet, I lip sync for 15 minutes, then the blowjobs commence." There is at least as much physical labor, a shitload more discomfort, and plenty of long hours and shitty working conditions.

    LOL, so .005 dollars everytime clicks a link to a new page?!?!? Sign me up!!! Do I get the same for each library too!?!?!?

    Only if musicians get .005 dollars for every note you listen to. And as we all know, since Amazon gets millions of users per month, EVERY web site must get millions of users per month! You're trying to be cute and dodge the point by being glib, but being glib simply makes you look stupid.

  • Re:Demand More (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rtb61 (674572) on Saturday February 02, 2013 @01:49AM (#42769361) Homepage

    In reality that is the problem with streaming, too much competition. Too much music is available hence supply is far out weighing demand and the price is falling away to basically nothing. Old mass media rules, they could bury and kill off old content, limit the amount available and thus falsely or more accurately anti-competitively limit supply, raising prices and profits for the limited few, the majority of course got nothing. All that's happening now is the artificial barriers to competition are being erased and returns are dropping. How much does a busker get paid per performance by each person that hears part of it, can performance guards beat people up who heard a performance to make a payment, can people be fined for not paying. Wake up to reality drunken, drugged up minstrels the corruption of the system created by publishers for their benefit is collapsing. The busker is in reality who you were and who you will be again.

  • Re:Demand More (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Eskarel (565631) on Saturday February 02, 2013 @02:18AM (#42769473)

    I'm also slightly confused. Your average US CD goes for what? About $13 or so? over approximately 10-13 tracks on average? So you're looking at about a dollar per sale(which might then be listened to a few hundred times or more). So even if we presume that the artist was getting 100% of the price of the CD, which they sure as heck weren't, if you can get someone to listen to your song 200 times(which isn't exactly unreasonable) and you've got a good solid album with songs people actually want to listen to as opposed to one song people can hear just by turning on the radio and 12 tracks no one cares about, you're pretty much in the same boat you were before.

    Given that artists weren't getting anywhere close to 100% of the CD sales and that you could probably get more than 200 listens per customer out of a good song, artists could actually do a lot better than before.

    It's not a panacea to allow bands with a few thousand listener to make a living out of it, but short of people massively changing the way they value entertainment, that's just really not going to happen.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday February 02, 2013 @05:37AM (#42770053)

    No, it is.

    Take a typical metal band. For every song, it has to be rehearsed, this may take months, then we have to record it, this entails around a 60 hour week in the studio, 5 musicians, an engineer, his assistant, a producer, that's 900 hours times 8 people. Then you need to put out a music video or two to promote the album, count on a month to produce something of sufficient quality. Add on the publicity events, and you pretty much have a fulltime job.

    This is exactly the trouble, people think that because copying music/movies is easy, that producing it must be a similar walk in the park. It's not. Even more so for films than music.

    You can make the claim that people don't want quality music or films, and therefore musicians should just pick a different line of work. I mean after all, no one wants to pay for music or films (though they still want to listen/watch them), but it's disingenuous to claim that producing quality music isn't a difficult fulltime job. Maybe we should all just stop producing music, and get jobs in fast food restaurants, but don't ask us to continue to make music for your consumption in our spare time, that's just not going to happen.

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