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Music The Almighty Buck The Internet

Why the Major Labels Love (and Artists Hate) Music Streaming 164

Posted by samzenpus
from the pay-us-as-you-go dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Jay Frank writes that the big four music distributors and their sister publishers (Sony, Warner, UNI and EMI) make 15% more per year, on average, from paying customers of streaming services like Spotify or Rdio than it does from the average customer who buys downloads, CDs or both. Each label makes 'blanket license' deals with Streaming services with advances in the undisclosed millions, which is virtually the same as selling music in bulk; they receive these healthy licensing fees to cover all activity in a given period rather than allowing Streaming services to 'pay as they go.' 'Artists are up in arms, many are opting out of streaming services,' writes Frank. 'Lost in that noise is a voice that is seldom heard: that of the record companies. There's good reason for that: they're making more money from streaming and the future looks extremely bright for them.' The average 'premium' subscription customer in the U.S. was worth about $16 a year to a major record company, while the average buyer of digital downloads or physical music was worth about $14. Thus, year over year, the premium subscriber was worth nearly 15% more than the person who bought music either digitally or physically."
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Why the Major Labels Love (and Artists Hate) Music Streaming

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  • Of course... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZorinLynx (31751) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @08:15PM (#45981217) Homepage

    They don't want us to own our music collections!

    I've been VERY careful with services like Spotify. If I really like a song, I still acquire a real copy that's mine, rather than depend on Spotify to listen to it when I want to.

    The simple fact is that Spotify might be gone someday, yet my MP3s will still be sitting on my (backed up) hard drive.

    • Re:Of course... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by alen (225700) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @08:31PM (#45981347)

      if you're young and listen to recent music, then owning is not that expensive

      if you're older than dirt like myself and want to listen to lots of music from the last 40 years or longer than renting is a lot cheaper. add to this the fact that there is so much music to listen to that there is no sense in buying even single songs you might listen to a few times and then go on to something else

      • by guidryp (702488)

        That actually seems backwards to me.

        If you are young, then you probably don't have much of a music collection, so you will probably spend a lot to build one.

        If you are old (as I am), then you probably built you collection years(decades) ago, in Vinyl/CDs, ripped them, and just keep mainly listening to this older music, spending next to nothing on new music, which you (I certainly) don't like much of.

      • if you're young and listen to recent music, then owning is not that expensive

        if you're older than dirt like myself and want to listen to lots of music from the last 40 years or longer than renting is a lot cheaper. add to this the fact that there is so much music to listen to that there is no sense in buying even single songs you might listen to a few times and then go on to something else

        Oh, CRY me a TORRENT!

        (Also, Led Zep is only available on Spotify, Beatles and AC/DC only on iTunes, how do I choose? No definitely, the cheapest option was to backup all my CDs -- and that's a massive lot of them. Vinyls are a bit more annoying to back up but then again... see above)

      • by Nemyst (1383049)
        If you download it over time as you discover new stuff you can pretty easily own it all. Music is a lot cheaper in digital format and it really is worth owning your entire collection rather than depending on a service to exist forever.
      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        For music from 40 years ago, might I recommend LPs? You can often pick them up really cheaply second-hand, along with a decent turntable, and rock out all you like to One Nation Under a Groove or whatever else you like from 40 years ago. Plus you get all the retro cred among hippie types you encounter.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I've been VERY careful with services like Blockbuster. If I really like a movie, I still acquire a real copy that's mine, rather than depend on Blockbuster to watch to it when I want to.

      The simple fact is that Blockbuster might be gone someday, yet my DVDs will still be sitting on my shelf.

      I'm sorry, but your logic escapes me. Why would you need to be "VERY careful" with Spotify? It's basically just a rental service, much like Blockbuster was. You didn't need to be "VERY careful" when dealing with Blockbuster, did you?

      The other AC is right. If Spotify goes down, you just switch to the next service that replaces it. One monthly fee is removed from your card, and a new one takes its place.

      "I'm not gonna rebuy my content!" some people might say. Except you aren't rebuying the content.

    • by rev0lt (1950662)

      If I really like a song, I still acquire a real copy that's mine, rather than depend on Spotify to listen to it when I want to.

      You don't own the recording, just the media. You license the recording. Streaming services allow me to listen to "whatever I want" (most music I hear is somewhat easy to find) without having to carry with me gigabytes of mp3 or whatever. And I do listen to lots of stuff once - I can "preview it" instead of doing the full commit of buying it. I usually listen to - at least - 5h of music per working day, so if I was buying CD's or mp3 it would get pretty expensive quickly. Given that some of my computers don'

      • by VanessaE (970834)

        > You don't own the recording, just the media. You license the recording.

        Bullshit. I own that copy of the recording and the piece of media it sits on. I will do whatever the fuck I want to with that recording, within the confines of the copyright laws of the country I live in. It is MINE. I OWN IT.

        • by schnell (163007)

          I will do whatever the fuck I want to with that recording, within the confines of the copyright laws of the country I live in

          You are correct, but that is also the point of the OP above. You have complete ownership of the physical media - to resell it, use it as a coaster or frisbee, whatever. What you can do with the recording (e.g. play it, format shift it or redistribute it to others) is circumscribed by the copyright laws of your country and is, in effect, a license.

          It may sound pedantic, but it is nonetheless a real distinction between total ownership and a license to use the content. Same deal goes with DVDs, software instal

        • by rev0lt (1950662)

          Bullshit. I own that copy of the recording and the piece of media it sits on.

          Its the other way around - you own a piece of media and a license for personal usage of the recording within the media. If you want to change the media type, you need to acquire a new package (a new license for the recording and the supporting media of your choice).

          I will do whatever the fuck I want to with that recording

          No, you will do with the media. The copyright law explicitly forbids you to do anything else than personal reproduction of the media or transmission of your rights to another person (eg. selling a used CD). You cannot reproduce it publicly, you c

    • The title of your post makes me think of this.

      Q: What do the labels want?
      A: To take over the world! Of course. [youtube.com]

  • Obviously! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tysonedwards (969693) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @08:15PM (#45981221)
    Artists are up in arms because record companies make more money off of their work, and yet they end up making less!
    • Re:Obviously! (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dan East (318230) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @08:33PM (#45981371) Homepage Journal

      Neither of these articles say that. What they're talking about is domination - it's harder for a small number of artists to grab the majority of the revenue with streaming. So obviously not all artists are upset with streaming.

      • Re:Obviously! (Score:5, Interesting)

        by icebike (68054) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @08:45PM (#45981449)

        Neither of these articles say that. What they're talking about is domination - it's harder for a small number of artists to grab the majority of the revenue with streaming. So obviously not all artists are upset with streaming.

        They very carefully don't say that, but I bet it is true anyway.

        If the streamers pay the labels a blanket fee, that means they do not count (and may not be even able to count) listeners for each song, and provide labels with enough info to apportion these blanket payments in any rational way.

        So the labels divi it up any way they want, and pay the artists what ever miserly pittance the labels can get away with.

        • by smelch (1988698)
          Uhhhh, most music services show how many times a song has been played to the users, how do you think they don't show that to record companies?
          • by icebike (68054)

            When you are streaming, you can't know for sure how many are listening.
            Its not a separate tcp stream for each remote device.

            • Re:Obviously! (Score:4, Interesting)

              by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 16, 2014 @11:22PM (#45982207)

              When you are streaming, you can't know for sure how many are listening.

              True, but the number of people listening in the room with the audio-playing device isn't particularly relevant to the royalty calculaton--it's the number of accounts, and that they do know.

              Its not a separate tcp stream for each remote device.

              Yes, it actually is. It's not streaming radio, it's on demand music. The streaming services know which songs you listen to, when you listened to them, and whether you interacted with the platform while doing so (to favorite, skip, alter your playlist, look at artist information, and so on). Even services that don't let you build playlists or select music and instead put together their own playlists for you (Pandora being a prime example) don't actually "broadcast" a stream that you just tune into the middle of. Each Pandora "station" starts at the beginning of a song, and what's playing on that station for you is not the same as what's playing for me, even if we're both listening to Justin Bieber Radio or whatever at the exact same time.

              Streaming services absolutely count the number of listening accounts, and the number of plays per account, and every other conceivable data point. They are fully capable of calculating royalties precisely to apportion them exactly proportionally to the revenue collected.

            • by jandrese (485)

              Its not a separate tcp stream for each remote device.

              You think they're doing multicast over the internet? Of course it is a TCP stream per endpoint. Well, it might be UDP or some other protocol, but every time someone connects they get their own stream.

          • by Imrik (148191)

            What makes you think the record companies care whether they pay their artists appropriately?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Eskarel (565631)

      Artists are up in arms largely because they're irrational idiots. They see that they got a million plays and they look at their check which is only a few grand and think they're getting royally screwed, which simply isn't true

      The problem for artists is that they don't really understand what a million plays actually means, I've heard it over and over again in radio interviews and articles. 10 tracks to an album, presuming anyone who actually likes the album enough to buy it will listen to it at least 10 time

    • Anyone doing anything hate when a good or service (that they produce) becomes commoditized. You buy it by the pound and not by the exclusivity. When that happens you stop being able to charge a premium.

      Streaming companies buy music in bulk and could care less about the newest/latest top 40 since it'll be in the bargin bin within 6 months and leased to them as part of a library.

      It's about time entertianers and their industry were knocked down a peg or three seeing is it is nothing more that a scam base

      • Anyone doing anything hate when a good or service (that they produce) becomes commoditized. You buy it by the pound and not by the exclusivity. When that happens you stop being able to charge a premium.

        Streaming companies buy music in bulk and could care less about the newest/latest top 40 since it'll be in the bargin bin within 6 months and leased to them as part of a library.

        It's about time entertianers and their industry were knocked down a peg or three seeing is it is nothing more that a scam based on heavy handed copyright laws. I'll never begrudge an artist for charging $100 for a ticket to a show, but $1-3 per song (digital media) for ever and ever that is not right.

        You seem to be under the misconception that "record industry" = "musicians".

        • If musicians are dumb enough to sell the rights to a music company, then they are no longer independents, they are employees and will be paid like it.
  • by rossz (67331) <ogre AT geekbiker DOT net> on Thursday January 16, 2014 @08:17PM (#45981233) Homepage Journal

    If the record companies were honest, the artists would be making more money so would love streaming services. Unfortunately, the record industry is controlled by a bunch of thieving assholes who see paying artists as unnatural. So the record companies are making money hand over fist, and the the artists get screwed, as usual.

    • by Zaatxe (939368)
      And why do the artists need the record industry in this new reality? Why don't they stream their own music and cut the middle man?
      (This is not a rhetorical rant, I really don't know why.)
      • by jandrese (485)
        Lots of artists are (which is one reason the established artists hate streaming, because it opens up more competition), but without a label you have to accept that you won't get your record in most stores and you'll never tour at any medium to large venues because they're locked up by the industry. You won't get play on terrestrial radio (owned by the same people who own the venues), and you certainly won't get on MTV, even if they did play music. You'll be at best "internet famous" and get to play at bar
        • by Zaatxe (939368)
          So, the record industry is the solution for the problem created by their very existence?
          • by jandrese (485)
            Yep, that's how they set the system up. You either play ball or languish in obscurity. That's why artists sign such horrible contracts that give the industry complete ownership of their work for basically nothing in return, because the alternative is to not be a rock star. Many artists have probably balked at those contracts and refused to sign, but nobody has ever heard of them.

            A better solution would be an open supply chain, independent venues, independent radio, etc... Basically allow people to c
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 16, 2014 @08:18PM (#45981243)

    We call it Riding the Gravy Train.

  • Someone please (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Swampash (1131503) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @08:18PM (#45981249)

    tell me why I should give a shit? This is like a news item telling me how much Dropbox pays for hard disks or how much Google pays for electricity.

    Streaming music services like Spotify provide a service, and I pay for it if I find it good value for money. I don't care what their overheads are or what deals they have in place with their suppliers.

    • The difference is that you don't go to Dropbox in order to store your data specifically on a Seagate hard disk, but you may go to Spotify to specifically listen to Eminem.

      • There's no difference. He cares more about the ability to listen to Eminem than how much Eminem gets out of the deal.

        • by smelch (1988698)
          Yeah, but you might care more about how much The Mowgli's make because they aren't a huge established star and you want them to be able to keep making music you like.
    • by evilRhino (638506)
      Let's extend your example a bit. Let's say that Dropbox develops an unnatural power over hard drive manufacturers and demands lower and lower prices to the point where no one could afford to make hard drives for their service anymore. Everything seems to work fine for a while, but eventually hardware failures occur without backup hardware for recovery and you lose whatever data you had stored with them. Would you care then?
      • by noh8rz10 (2716597) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @08:49PM (#45981465)

        no, because I stream all my music anyways so there's no need to back it up to disk.

        • by evilRhino (638506)
          Where do you think the stream comes from? Little musicians playing live on the other end of the tube? The music is being stored on a disk somewhere, even if you don't own it.
          • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

            Yeah but obv pandora doesn't back up to Dropbox! So I don't understand the question

            • by evilRhino (638506)
              We were talking about a hypothetical scenario where the cost of hard drives used by Dropbox would become relevant to the OP as analogy to the cost of music vs record labels royalties to artists. In this example, Dropbox has as much influence on the market of hard drives as the music industry has on music royalties in the real world. Basically Dropbox forced the margins down on hard drives so much that most companies are forced to exit the business. As a result, you can't get Pandora music in this hypothetic
              • by noh8rz10 (2716597)

                Dropbox has as much influence on the market of hard drives as the music industry has on music royalties in the real world. Basically Dropbox forced the margins down on hard drives so much that most companies are forced to exit the business.

                is this even true? I never thought of Dropbox as cornering the entire market on storage. if anything, the hard drive market strikes me as... fragmented!

      • by Swampash (1131503)

        Let's extend your example a bit. Let's say that Dropbox develops an unnatural power over hard drive manufacturers and demands lower and lower prices to the point where no one could afford to make hard drives for their service anymore.

        Then Dropbox would have no new hard drives, and it would go out of business, and I'd stop using it.

        I don't care what Dropbox pays for its hard drives and I don't care what Spotify pays to the music labels. If that level is sustainable the service will remain operative and I wil

        • by smelch (1988698)
          I think you're missing the point. The point is that Spotify is bringing in more money for their supplier and the supplier is not not paying their employees (the artists) more for it. The implication is that the supplier sucks, not Spotify because it is widely believed that record companies screw their artists already. This is just another example of that.
          • by JanneM (7445)

            Artists presumably know record companies screw them over already. It's not as if it's been a big secret for the paf|st fifty years after all. But nowadays they do have much more choice on who they do business with - they can elect to sign with independents, join music collectives or go it alone for instance. If they're still working with the big labels it must be because they, after all, still provide a service that is worth it for the artists.

    • by loufoque (1400831)

      If you don't care about how things work behind the scenes, then you probably shouldn't come to this website.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You think anyone comes to Slashdot anymore because they give a shit? I hate to break it to you, but Slashdot's traffic, according to their own traffic numbers given to potential advertisers, show a decline by over half as compared to five years ago. In addition, up to 1 in 4 stories per day are now directly sponsored. Meaning, they are posted as a result of an ad buy. Not even fucking Gawker does that.

        I abandoned a 4-digit (admittedly, high 4 digits) UID to only read and post as an AC. There's no way in hel

    • This is like a news item telling me how much Dropbox pays for hard disks or how much Google pays for electricity.

      Really though, both of those would be quite interesting, although apparently you don't find it interesting.

  • Does this reflect the fact that many labels pay the artists upfront and fund the creation of the album and the lifestyle? It seems to me in many of these cases the labels are the ones taking the risk, while the artists are just enjoying the lifestyle. I don't know. It seems to me that if the internet is working the way many think it should, major labels would become a thing of the past. If you are breakout internet hit like Justin Bieber, I don't know why you would sell yourself to a label. Unless you
    • by swb (14022)

      I think the lifestyle has become part of the promotional effort.

      In the People/TMZ/etc celebrity-hype environment we live in, the lifestyle almost seems to drive the artist, not the artist driving the lifestyle. Bieber seems famous for being Bieber and doing stupid celebrity stunts almost as much for making pop music.

      And in many ways, once the lifestyle reaches some critical mass, it almost seems self-sustaining without the need for any external support (such as producing music). Look at someone like Linds

      • by Reziac (43301) *

        Oh, that engine has always been there, it's just shifted gears a bit. Frex, the studio-funded lifestyles of the film stars of 50+ years ago.

  • Sure, the major labels may love all the money they're getting, but they've squeezed all the profit out of the streaming companies. Free/cheap streaming music may not be long for this world once the venture capital runs out.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/13/business/media/a-stream-of-music-not-revenue.html [nytimes.com]

  • by Dan East (318230) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @08:27PM (#45981313) Homepage Journal

    The Hypebot article gives a few reasons artists don't like streaming. It includes things like having to wait longer for revenue, songs have to have "legs" and longevity, and finally the pie is cut into smaller pieces.

    Do you see a pattern there? It isn't so conducive to pop / top 40 / disposable type music. An example given is that instead of consumer buying 3 CDs over the course of a year (and thus the money only going to 3 artists), with streaming that same amount of money may be split up over 18 artists instead. To me that sounds very good for indie artists, and, well, for music in general (if quality means anything). If a consumer is only going to buy 3 CDs a year on average, then there's a good chance those 3 artists will be the flavor of the month as shoved down everyone's throats by radio stations, TV shows, etc.

    The artists that would be doing the most complaining are the highest grossing superstars, and to be honest, I'm not all that concerned for their financial well being.

    The real question is do the record companies get an even larger percentage of the revenue with streaming, and I didn't see where these articles said that.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 16, 2014 @09:06PM (#45981547)

      The Hypebot article gives a few reasons artists don't like streaming. It includes things like having to wait longer for revenue, songs have to have "legs" and longevity, and finally the pie is cut into smaller pieces.

      Do you see a pattern there? It isn't so conducive to pop / top 40 / disposable type music. An example given is that instead of consumer buying 3 CDs over the course of a year (and thus the money only going to 3 artists), with streaming that same amount of money may be split up over 18 artists instead. To me that sounds very good for indie artists, and, well, for music in general (if quality means anything). If a consumer is only going to buy 3 CDs a year on average, then there's a good chance those 3 artists will be the flavor of the month as shoved down everyone's throats by radio stations, TV shows, etc.

      The artists that would be doing the most complaining are the highest grossing superstars, and to be honest, I'm not all that concerned for their financial well being.

      The real question is do the record companies get an even larger percentage of the revenue with streaming, and I didn't see where these articles said that.

      What happens is the exact opposite of this. Imagine you spend $30 on music; if you spent this on buying smaller artists albums they would receive $10 (a guess but may be less). If you spend this on streaming, the $30 is spread over all the artists IN PROPORTION to the TOTAL streaming numbers (NOT your streaming) so the smaller (read less popular) artists get almost *nothing* (literally $0.0003 or near enough) despite you individually streaming their songs. This is due to how the streaming contract payments are structured across all streams rather than monitoring and paying on individual streams (there was a blog post on this but I can't find it).

      In short: streaming is utterly terrible for smaller, independent artists but great for larger artists who can dominate the TOTAL streaming statistics.

      • by Eskarel (565631)

        You talk about $0.0003 a song. How much are you willing to pay for listening to a two minute song once? Really and honestly, what will you pay for two minutes of entertainment. If you want an artist to get a cent per song, that's .5 cents per minutes. To still make a profit for everyone spotify is likely going to have to charge 4 times that(to cover their profits and expenses, the record companies profits and expenses, etc). So We'll call it 2 cents a minute. So for a 24 hour day you're talking about $28.80

        • On the other hand, if they pay the artist a tenth of a cent per minute played, using your formulas I calculate a subscription cost of $14.61 per month. The service then has a million in revenue for every 68,000 subscribers. Whether that's enough to pay the overhead is left as an exercise for the MBAs.

          At that pay rate, if the artist can get 50,000 people to listen to 60 minutes of their music each month (i.e. a long album's worth) they can pull in over $30,000 just from the one streaming site.

          Seems to me

  • by jfdavis668 (1414919) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @08:28PM (#45981325)
    and play the songs myself. I don't sing though, I'm terrible.
    • by dbc (135354)

      You're only about 150 years behind the times. Stephen Foster http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stephen_Foster [wikipedia.org] was one of the first people to try to make a living as a song writer. He worked pretty hard to get copyrights on sheet music honored, because illicit copying (I hate the term piracy, except as applied to actual, you know, sea-going piriates like you find off Somalia or in the South China Sea...) ate into his income pretty badly. (My friend http://www.joeweed.com/ [joeweed.com] is a musician, musicologist, recordin

  • a few years ago they were awesome

    are they evil now since they are screwing the artists out of having people buy music?

  • by kheldan (1460303) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @08:37PM (#45981393) Journal
    I remember back in the day you could get numerous channels of streaming music service 100% free. It worked reliably in your home, car, or even just walking around. You'd hear brand-new music just released, and you could even make requests to hear something specific, and it was all totally free. It was called broadcast radio. Of course we still have that but it's a shadow of it's former self (thanks Internet!).

    When I first starting seeing Shoutcast and other Internet music streaming services, they were free, and I thought it was pretty cool because I could actually get more diversity with fewer (if any!) commercials than over-the-air radio. Then of course the music "industry" made their unfunny dick move and ruined it for everyone. Yeah, nah, fuck the RIAA and fuck subscription streaming music services. I'll still stick with broadcast radio when I'm out driving around, and music from my own collection the rest of the time.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday January 16, 2014 @08:50PM (#45981467)

      Broadcast radio was quite dead before streaming. The death of radio even predates napster. It was pretty sick and almost dead before the internet ever was a thing even.

      In the usa you can thank clearchannel for that. 12 stations all playing the same songs. all day long. and talk radio.

      • by Ksevio (865461)

        Broadcast radio was quite dead before streaming. The death of radio even predates napster. It was pretty sick and almost dead before the internet ever was a thing even

        Yes, I believe it was video that killed it

      • by Sockatume (732728)

        Clearchannel? The advertising company? They ran US radio?

        • by Whorhay (1319089)

          They own most radio stations in the USA. You can actually drive all over the country and find that similar music is played on very similar frequencies most of the time. This has been true for at least a decade or two. I remember noticing it as a kid and thinking it was funny that the same company owned the oldies, country, indie and new rock stations. All 4 of them where owned by the same company and ran mostly the same commercials. And they all played the top 40 songs from their genres sporadically between

          • by Reziac (43301) *

            Not only similar, but identical... switch from one station to another and pick up the same damned commercial at the same point in the ad. Over and over and over.

            ClearChannel has reduced radio to the broadcast equivalent of DoubleClick. It's why I haven't bothered getting the radio fixed in either of my trucks.

    • by noh8rz10 (2716597) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @08:53PM (#45981475)

      a bonus for broadcast, you get 20 mins of some idiot talking every hour, plus 20 mins of commercials. value added!

    • by swillden (191260)

      It was called broadcast radio.

      That's irrelevant. It was never a significant revenue source.

      Broadcast radio was never a moneymaker for artists or labels, in fact labels often paid large amounts of money under the table to radio stations in order to get them to play their artists' music (and, of course, recouped those payments from artists' royalties). The government stepped into stop this activity, though they never really succeeded. Yes, radio stations paid a nominal royalty fee for the right to broadcast, but it was a token at best.

      • by kheldan (1460303)
        You and another commenter in this thread are missing the point, and you're also probably not old enough to be lecturing me on how broadcast radio used to work, considering I was a teenager in the early 80's when all you had for recorded music in your car was cassette tapes. We didn't have to pay to listen to the radio. I don't really care what you say, you're not representative of 100% of everyone alive today who listens to music, and I'm not the only one out there who is unwilling to pay to listen to "stre
    • by jd2112 (1535857)

      I remember back in the day you could get numerous channels of streaming music service 100% free. It worked reliably in your home, car, or even just walking around. You'd hear brand-new music just released, and you could even make requests to hear something specific, and it was all totally free. It was called broadcast radio. Of course we still have that but it's a shadow of it's former self (thanks Internet!).

      Clear Channel and others were messing up broadcast radio before the internet had any significant impact.
      The problem with broadcast radio, and the music industry in general, is the lack of diversity in what is generally promoted. If you don't listen to mainstream pop, country, R&B or hip-hop good luck finding anything of interest on the radio. (Much of that goes back to the radio conglomerates like Clear Channel wanting to play the same crap on hundreds of radio stations)
      Most of the music I have purc

      • by Reziac (43301) *

        It's not that they "want" to play the same crap on hundreds of stations, but rather that it's VERY cost effective to just have one DJ and one automated system which goes out on a feed to ALL your stations -- only needs one studio setup per genre, no local talent required, and only one music library rather than one for every station.

    • Broadcast radio was so fucking bad it gave me cancer. They play the same play list every day around the same time, usually each song getting several plays a day. a typical hour of radio goes like this:

      3 x Idiots shouting stupidity into the mic
      Ad x 6
      Pointless ad for station you are listening to
      1 song you've heard every day this week

      And that just repeats all day long with the occasional break for a "news update" or similar crap.

      I stopped listening about 30 years ago, but I still get a dose of it every so ofte

  • Say what? (Score:5, Informative)

    by mbone (558574) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @08:56PM (#45981493)

    Lost in that noise is a voice that is seldom heard: that of the record companies.

    This must be a report from some other planet, because on the one I live on, the record companies are frequently the only voice that is heard.

  • by melchoir55 (218842) on Thursday January 16, 2014 @09:44PM (#45981745)

    Let me preface this by saying I am totally on board the RIAA and record company hate train. I'm the guy pulling the whistle even. Choo Choo! They are greedy organizations who will ruthlessly do anything for profit.

    That being said, I have become convinced over time that the artist-record company relationship is actually fair. Artists don't make the majority of the money that gets plunked down for their songs. But, you know, what? They aren't really doing much of the work either. Artists write and perform the song.This takes work, surely. Let's be generous and say each individual song takes a full person year to write and get good at. Record companies dump enormous resources into promoting it. This includes the work of hundreds (thousands?) of people resulting in the expenditure of many years of person effort. It seems to me like the record company is actually the one contributing more value. What happens to artists who try to succeed without record companies, or grants from universities? A tiny percentage of them earn enough to subsist. There is a reason for this.

    To be frank, at the end of the day professional musicians who make a good living aren't really any better than many of the ones who are struggling. I've seen so many really talented musician friends go through school to finely hone their skills, only to find no one in the real world cares (ie they can't make money). The reason no one cares isn't because people don't value music. They do. That is why so much money goes into buying music. The problem is that reaching the threshold at which most people consider you "good" is attainable by a VAST portion of the population. Probably roughly the same percentage of the population who can be considered good at physically lifting things and then setting them down elsewhere. Good musicians are a dime a dozen.

    I know the musicians out there are going to crucify me for this. You'll all point out it is possible to discern the difference between the violinist who makes 10 mil and the one who can't get a job. I'm sure you can. The point is that most of society can't, and doesn't care to. This is why most of you make nothing and have to pursue other careers. I wish you would all wake up to it before dumping a decade or more into it. Unless of course you are wealthy enough to pursue it whether it brings you income or not.

    Music and the arts are for everyone, as a hobby, because any human can be good at them to some degree. The skills it takes to do them are part of what it is to be human. They have been pursued professionally by the rich, or friends of the rich, historically. This is because the rich can afford to spend 20 years getting good to maybe get paid well at the end. If you are a middle or lower class person trying to pursue music you are being irresponsible. You are more than likely wasting your time, except for the rare people who value the honing of skills higher than standard of living.

    • by BlackHawk-666 (560896) <ivan.hawkes@gmail.com> on Thursday January 16, 2014 @11:07PM (#45982133) Homepage

      A year for each song? Most pop music wouldn't even take the better part of an afternoon to write. It's a 4 chord song which follows a fairly standard pattern. The melody is generally the only unique part, and that's because that's what the copyright is based on. Nearly all lyrics are truly banal crap with little to no meaning. The vast majority of songs are limp love songs with tepid pointless sappy lyrics.

      There are exceptions, of course, but if we're talking rock / pop then and especially anything that charts, then it's all drivel. Some examples:

      Baby baby
      Are you listening?
      Wondering where you've been all my life
      I just started living
      Oh baby
      Are you listening?

      Unconditional, unconditionally
      I will love you unconditionally
      There is no fear now
      Let go and just be free
      I will love you unconditionally

      I live for the applause, applause, applause
      I live for the applause-plause, live for the applause-plause
      Live for the way that cheer and scream for me
      The applause, applause, applause

      Yeah girl, I just had me,
      One hell of a work week.
      It's been driving me crazy,
      Not enough of you baby.
      And I been a-thinkin',
      'Bout breakin' in the weekend
      Not doin' any sleepin'
      So get in, let's take a ride

      Such insight! Such clever prose and phrasing! Truly these gems will shine till the sun itself have burnt out...

    • You'll all point out it is possible to discern the difference between the violinist who makes 10 mil and the one who can't get a job. I'm sure you can. The point is that most of society can't, and doesn't care to.

      I'll bet most of society could, especially if you limit to only those who are paying to hear that violinist.

    • by mjwx (966435) on Friday January 17, 2014 @04:37AM (#45983663)

      That being said, I have become convinced over time that the artist-record company relationship is actually fair. Artists don't make the majority of the money that gets plunked down for their songs. But, you know, what? They aren't really doing much of the work either. Artists write and perform the song.This takes work, surely. Let's be generous and say each individual song takes a full person year to write and get good at. Record companies dump enormous resources into promoting it. This includes the work of hundreds (thousands?) of people resulting in the expenditure of many years of person effort. It seems to me like the record company is actually the one contributing more value. What happens to artists who try to succeed without record companies, or grants from universities? A tiny percentage of them earn enough to subsist. There is a reason for this.

      This is entirely true for your Bieber's, Beoynce's and Skrillex's. But it wasn't always the case. This is largely due to the fact that music has pretty much died and what we've been left with requires so much post production and marketing to sell, the "artist" is almost unnecessary. The only reason they still need real people is because of the uncanny valley. If we could make an image indistinguishable from a real person, record labels could get rid of the useless meat.

      Long gone are the days where bands would write a new record almost entirely on tour, then produce it in a studio over 3 months and it would be mastered a short time later mainly because the band needed to get back on tour to earn money. I'm using Nirvana's Nevermind as an example, recorded between May and June 1991, Mastered on the 2nd of August 1991 and released on the 24th of September 1991. Between the 2nd of May and the 2nd of August, they produced one of the worlds greatest albums, a period of 4 months and half of that was recording. Most of the work was done by Cobain, Novoselic, Grohl and the producer, Butch Vig.

      A far cry from today where most of the music is not only fixed by computers, it's actually generated by computers. Beyond the initial recordings, the "artist" (I'm using that term very loosely) isn't required and doesn't really have any input. We now have pop and rap which is largely the creation of computers but dubstep and electronic music is entirely the work of computers. This is why it has become so expensive and time consuming to produce a studio album. You dont start with a band using instruments to produce a near finished product, you have to create that from scratch.

      And we're all suffering because of it.

      Previously bands would work their way up, playing at parties, weddings, just about anything to get noticed, to get fans. Now so called "artists" are relying on marketing and saturating radio coverage to get people to like their crud. Music is albeit dead now, replaced with rap, dubstep and electronic substitutes. Soon the man with the guitar will be an endangered species.

  • Artists with music label contracts hate streaming because their record deals are so ridiculous they'd likely be illegal in any other industry. Artists that are too small to have a label or have simply chosen not to have one, love streaming. I've found more unique and interesting artists via streaming radio that I ever could have otherwise.

  • Older (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Phoenix666 (184391)

    The last CD I ever paid money for, that I didn't buy from the artist himself, was in the pre-Napster days. Once Napster hit the scene I never looked back. Downloaded everything I wanted and a lot of what I hadn't heard of before and thought I'd try. It's lived with me on hard drive after hard drive since. Every once in a while when it rains or the sun shines a certain way and I'm feeling nostalgic I'll listen to a random selection, but mostly I don't. A recorded track is always the same, always what I'

    • by bhiestand (157373)

      I can relate to this. The only exception is that I don't care as much for live performances. Not because I don't appreciate them, just because I find most small, local bands truly lacking. And anything by a more popular band? Hours of extra traffic, travel, and a huge hassle trying to beat scalpers to tickets. No thanks.

      I listen to Spotify because music gets old. I rarely listen to a song more than ten times. Why would I buy the song, let alone the whole album? With subscription-based services, I ca

  • There's no guarantee your music will make you money just like any business venture. Music label contract scams have been know for ever yet you signed up because you dreamed your product is going to make you famous, well you knew what the end result would be. You're too afraid to publish your self because you keep dreaming of 15 min of fame and you think you and you product will get you rich.

    • by Reziac (43301) *

      And the labels play on this... I've heard of cases where a band was offered a contract solely to lock them up so they couldn't be competition for the band the label had decided to promote. If bands weren't chasing that brass ring of fame, maybe they'd not fall for this scam.

  • They don't need the majors label anymore. They can deal with the streaming services themselves, or even with the public directly.
  • > "make 15% more per year, on average, from paying customers of streaming services like Spotify or Rdio than it does from the average customer who buys downloads, CDs or both."

    I should point out that people should parse that sentence very carefully to understand the situation. The summary says the labels make 15% more per year, on average, from paying customers of streaming services. Most people aren't paying for streaming services. Here's one source that says that only about 25% of Spotify's regul
  • A service that has a better deal?
    http://mbsy.co/MGhN [mbsy.co] Tunecore

  • make 15% more per year, on average, from paying customers of streaming services

    They pay the customers and make more money? It's win-win!

  • For $9.95/mo, I can listen to pretty much whatever I want, as much as I want.

    Or for $9.95/mo, I could maybe get a bargain basement clearance CD every month. Which has one song that I want, and 15 that I don't.

    Hmm ....

  • I've switched to streaming (renting music) because it's so much more convenient than owning music. I have 1,500 CDs, hundreds of LPs, and 24,000 mp3 files, but I seldom play any of them because streaming is so damn convenient. When streaming becomes the obvious standard that will last, I'll probably get rid of my other forms of music.

    I stream through the computer, through my mobile devices, and to my TV and big stereo system via the Roku. I want the streaming services to succeed, pay the artists more, an

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