Music is awesome, and it’s more accessible than ever. For $10 a month, all of the music you could ever want is yours.
Streaming services have made discovering artists, albums and songs easier than it has ever been. Gone are the days of having to actually purchasing an album in order for you to figure out if you enjoy it. Now, you can simply stream it, form an opinion on it, and move forward from there.
The Copyright Royalty Board recently announced that artists would be receiving a pay raise from the streaming revenue. Their cut went up from 10.5 percent of the revenue to 15.1 percent. That’s good, but it’s probably not enough, seeing as with the old revenue share it took 1,500 streams on an album for it to equate to an album sale, according to the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).
To put this in even greater perspective, an artist receives approximately $0.0038 per stream from Spotify.
Okay, well then there’s physical sales. Those should help the artist a lot more, right? Wrong, according to BBC, artists are only paid a little over $1 per album sale.
Well that leaves a whole lot of money on the table that isn’t going to the artist, both in streaming and album sales. That’s where the record companies come in.
These behemoth corporations take in more than double the artist’s revenue, and then proceed to try and take more. It’s a system that’s been in place since music began being mass produced, and it’s one that has left many an artist mistreated.
Prince called record contracts “slavery,” Michael Jackson had a lengthy legal battle with Sony over his 2001 album “Invincible,” and, more recently, there was Kesha’s legal battle over her contract that would force her to work with a man she said sexually abused her.
The stories go on and on, but those stories then beg the question, how can consumers support their favorite artists without supporting the corporations that tear them down?
There is no right answer, but buying their music always helps, even though it also helps the record companies. Tell your friends about your favorite artists. And buying artist’s merchandise, which is usually sold independently from record companies, is another great avenue of support.
It’s also nice to see artists like Chance the Rapper and Run the Jewels exposing the benefits of being independent artists. This, of course, is not as easy as they make it seem–record companies do provide a lot of musical, social and promotional resources that help artists succeed–but artists like Chance and RTJ are showing other young artists that it is possible to succeed without the industry’s help.
Music is changing, but record companies aren’t. So, it is up to us, the consumers, to try and support our favorite musicians the best ways we can.