The Truth Behind Spotify
Spotify has been the biggest music streaming app recently. You can choose to pay nothing and have adds or pay a little to have add free streaming, but in today’s society, Spotify has become pretty huge. Ben Berry’s article titled, “Spotify Doesn’t Hurt Artists: My Band Would Be Nowhere Without It”, explains some of the pros and cons of the site, (but mostly the pros).
Many artists, including Taylor Swift and Aloe Blacc, made the decision to pull their catalogs from Spotify. Aloe Blacc explained that streaming websites need to pay artists fairly. Berry then goes on to explains the important role Spotify played in making it possible for his band, Moke Hill, to become more known and how it made it possible for them to cut a record deal.
Berry explains that he spent a lot of time working on the other side of the music industry. He explained, “The experience gave me exposure to the process of how revenue flows form consumers to artists, and how that process is changing with new technology.” Knowing both sides of the business makes it easier to understand his point of view. He uses stats to explain how exactly artists make money from streaming websites. He explains that the Avicii song “Wake Me Up”, will make approximately $1.5 million for their streams to date on Spotify. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty good pay out. Berry said that his band receives roughly $0.45 per stream. However, he explains also that Spotify must keep a fairly high percentage of the revenue to pay it’s workers and such. He also explained that if the artists has a record label, they too will see the money before the artist will, which makes it understandable that maybe the artist won’t make as much as they would like to. Berry makes it clear that the money artists see from streams is substantial, but it is also understandable in the way he presents the information that bigger artists may not make as much as they could selling on iTunes or selling hard copies of their albums. You can tell form the data presented that money can actually be made from streaming. Artists who pull their catalogs have every right to do so, but they claim to make no money from streaming services, and Berry has explained that that is not entirely the case. Painting a picture of the artist not being totally truthful makes Berry’s point more persuasuive. Since he too is an artist, you assume he must be telling the truth.
Berry then lists a few questions about the things no one truly understands about deals artists have made with Spotify. “What are the details of their label deal? Do the sonwriters have a publishing deal? Did the songwriter get an advance on his publishing deal? What is the songwriter’s split on the song(s) they wrote? Without any of this information, we can’t tell exactly what is happening to the money after Spotify writes the check.” It is hard to tell where the money is going until Spotify writes the check to the artist. He does explain that it is somewhat the artists fault that they do not see all the money when they finally receive their check. Most artists have labels and publishing companies that will see the money first. Berry says that it is a protection and a way to make sure your songs will make it, but he said it too comes with a cost, so it’s no wonder the artists doesn’t receive the money they were originally anticipating. Though it is not Spotify’s fault that the money must first go to the publishers. Spotify is only doing what they’re supposed to, they aren’t purposefully not paying the artist. It is the artists fault they must pay their companies first. I don’t think these thoughts came to mind whenever I thought about Spotify, however, Berry makes it out to be a very important part of an artist’s success. However, he also says that his own band made it without all of the outside help. He writes in such a way that you understand the need for publishers and labels, but you still feel as though those artist’s shouldn’t complain since they chose to higher those other companies.
He explains that artists pull their catalogs because they aren’t seeing the money from hard copy sales. Berry asks why fans should have to buy hard copies. “Physical album sales are not the long-term solution (case in point: the laptop I’m typing on doesn’t have a CD drive), and the alternative to streaming is piracy of YouTube (which has historically paid poorly, and allows users to upload anything they want, resulting in artists getting nothing for many of the streams).” They have gone out of style in all honesty. Buying or streaming songs onto your smart phone or computer is now the most efficient and enjoyable way to listen to music. It is simple and it doesn’t require you to hold the item in your hand. Overall, the music world is changing. Berry says that the industry just needs to embrace it. He says that the average user pays ~$120 per year to stream music, which is almost 5 times more than it used to be with hard copies and iTunes. Everyone in the industry, including the artist, would be making more money. Berry does an excellent job of describing the statistics of the industry and the true value of streaming websites. He makes it easy to see both sides of the industry, but still makes his side seem like the logical side.
He also explains that today’s artist see much of their income come from touring. He tells of how Taylor Swift made almost $5 milli0n in one year, $4 million of which were from her tour. He said that she has continually made a lot of money, even in years she hasn’t released albums. He says that he respects those artists who are trying to make music for a living. It is hard. It is a difficult industry to be successful in, and if that is their choice, then let them pull their catalogs. However, he supports them while implying that their decision still might not have been the best. This approach leaves consumers believing that artists are and want more money for themselves, even though that isn’t the solution that will give them that option. Berry’s approach makes the reader almost angry at the falsehoods labels tell to make their artists seem abused and used, when in reality they are not.
Berry does an excellent job explaining that Spotify isn’t the bad guy. It is doing its part to make the user experience much more enjoyable, while still trying to give artists the credit they deserve. He explains the importance it has played in his band’s career. This can lead the music lover to sympathize with his cause. As a musician myself, I can’t help but feel excited for him. Becoming popular in the world of music is a huge feat and I would be excited if I were in his shoes. “As for Moke Hill, we’ve spent next to nothing ot get our songs on Spotify and it has exposed us to tens of thousands of people around the world who never would have heard our music otherwise. Spotify is not only paying us, but building our fan base while paying us, which will eventually make it easier to sell tickets to shows.”I will always be a Spotify fan, but this article has made me gain an even stronger faith in the program and the true meaning of it. Berry has made his readers understand that Spotify is a great program doing great things for all musicians.