The Finger’s on the Self-Destruct Button

“You can send people interested in what you do anywhere to access your music.”

This is true for musicians who have already developed a large fan base and don’t need to be discovered, and who can pay for teams to build websites, publicity and distribution mechanisms for them. Most musicians view streaming platforms as the baseline for discovery, fan growth and retention, however, even if we can’t quite prove this is the case. We have FOMO, so we post our music everywhere, including Bandcamp. CD Baby and Tunecore make it easy to default distribution to all available streaming platforms. What we don’t get back is good detailed reporting data on plays/streams and fan demographics, as Zoe Keating has eloquently highlighted for years. We view the lost revenue of streaming as a promotional cost now.

If Apple gave every musician access to better fan data to help make crowdfunding, touring and merchandising easier, that would be a big game changer in the industry. In the meanwhile, all they need to do is be kingmaker for a few indie artists via Beats 1 and fix Connect (it’s mobile-only for artist content upload right now) to keep the marginal goodwill of artists. Artists were not willing to boycott Spotify when there was no real alternative. You could hear the collective disappointment turn to backlash and rage when Tidal did not provide that alternative. We are all waiting to see how Apple really treats musicians, and who can outlast whom. Apple has the deep pockets and access to a huge consumer base. Spotify will need to raise another round, go public or sell — but it still won’t be profitable, but more importantly, it has a long way to go to create better goodwill with musicians. So far cultivating goodwill with musicians (who, let’s face it, ultimately provide the content engine — music — which runs the whole system) has not been considered a real factor in the success of streaming platforms. I think (and I hope) that will change. The Taylor Swift/Apple three-month-free royalty payments discussion was a shift in focus toward artists viewpoint.

I agree with you that Spotify may eventually implode, still unprofitable, once the IPO or buyout happens. That’ll just make it easier for us musicians, we’ll have one less streaming platform to complain about.

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