The Streaming Solution


Regardless of how we all feel about Joe Rogan or Neil Young or anyone else involved in this “controversy” one thing should all rub us the wrong way: Spotify standing on the heads of countless artists to pay a man 100 million dollars. There are lots of different perspectives on this situation and the ever-evolving music industry that I want to dig into, but ultimately I’ll never be on board with how streaming services seem to be bankrolling billions, and artists are left waiting for the trickle-down effect. Yes, I’m aware I am a very small-time artist that is getting very little action/benefits from these streaming platforms and at the risk of just sounding like a bitter wannabe (or jaded boomer), here are what I think the issues are and even some solutions…

The 2 main issues I have with streaming music are: the revenue decisions seem to heavily exclude artists and streaming has made music become consumable background noise for the most part. It may seem hard to care about this as a consumer because well, this situation greatly, greatly, GREATLY, benefits consumers, but if artists could somehow band together (no pun) maybe we can get some leverage to change people’s perspective on this. Maybe Neil Young’s snowball can pick up some traction on this mountain and bring down this corporate monster.

Tough pill incoming:

Spotify and these other streaming services are so popular because they give people access to albums they didn’t buy. Though I can’t get too nitty-gritty on the numbers when it comes to these streaming apps, this system where there is some sort of fraction of a cent earned per stream seems arbitrary, asinine, and insulting. Sure, for huge artists they may see a substantial amount of money, but the reality is they should probably be getting paid more when we see the actual stream count numbers. Stream count in general to me is a bizarre statistic to take seriously…I would much more favor a daily unique listener count. A song that 100 different people listen to once should probably not get the same payout as one person listening to a song 100 times, but I digress…The other aspect of this is the closed-door deals that are being made between record companies and Spotify that keep us all in the dark on how money is being exchanged…and how it’s withheld from artists.

And so here I’ll put the TL; DR: SPOTIFY IS LEGALIZED NAPSTER!!!!

Even the fucking creator of Napster, Sean Parker served on the board of Spotify and was one of the early multimillion-dollar investors. And because record companies are now in on the heist, no one seems to be batting an eye. The same way no one batted an eye when music was shared with Limewire or Napster until they criminalized the act of file sharing and record labels started dealing out lawsuits. ARTICLES LIKE THIS FROM CNET or even SPOTIFY’S OWN PRESS RELEASE should alarm us in that there are no revealing details on how artists are getting compensated. Moreover, this seems to be a major ploy to lock in the biggest artists to a situation where they are helpless to do anything about…and us small timers are left even PAYING to get on Spotify so people will have the same access to our music that they do for big artists.

Spotify will break down IN THIS VIDEO how they absolve themselves from paying artists. So who again are the real culprits here? Well, people are paying Spotify, Spotify delegates ⅔ of their revenue to record companies and publishing, then lastly…after revenue has passed through all the “cost” filters…money is passed down to the artists–quantified as a fraction of a cent per stream. Some artists are even praising Spotify and blaming the victim like DAVID DRAIMAN’S TWITTER RANT. Either way you slice it, music sharing before streaming ripped off artists and record labels, whilst now it’s just the artists that continue to get ripped off.

Just to further prove my point, go ahead and search for who Spotify’s investors are now and what those shares are worth. Corporate entities and executives all have their hands in the Spotify bowl and are committed to keeping this machine going. Though big artists like Jay-Z, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, and now Neil Young have made their stands, Spotify is bigger than ever and making nine-figure deals with people like Joe Rogan…so what the fuck do we do now?

Honestly, with this cat out of the bag, I don’t think there’s any hope to save something like Spotify. IT DIDN’T WORK WITH MOVIES and to have a service that has this level of power with the biggest record labels, as well as huge corporate investors (that probably own politicians), the most we could hope for is reform. If Spotify was some sort of Pandora-type app, where there was no option to listen on-demand to anything you want and they made their money from solely ad revenue, then things could maybe be manageable. In fact, that’s kind of what Spotify should be. You want to listen to Rancid? Here’s a shuffled playlist of Rancid and some other bands mixed in with some ads. Not here’s Rancid’s entire catalog as well as any other music in the world for $10. We need a system where the artist is getting half–or even a lion’s share of any music revenue.

To me what checks off both boxes for digital music is Bandcamp. This is the ultimate streaming solution. I’ve said it tirelessly on the podcast, but Bandcamp’s royalty-free sales-based platform is the most STRAIGHTFORWARD, TRANSPARENT, AND FAIR SYSTEM I’ve seen. Bandcamp enables purchasable digital and physical copies of music on an artist’s unique customizable site, permanent access to streaming whatever you buy on the Bandcamp app, and a section for selling merchandise. You can even stream tunes before you buy. With the new things that Bandcamp continues to roll out, including live streaming, fan subscriptions, and featuring countless new artists on their front page, Bandcamp seems to operate by putting the artist first. All that’s missing is more exposure and endorsements from bigger artists.

NOW THAT BANDCAMP HAS BEEN ACQUIRED BY EPIC GAMES, maybe this can give the support Bandcamp needs to thrust into being a more powerful entity in the music industry. Only time will tell.

I know this is one of my longer posts–and much of it might just be me blowing off steam here–but I’m obviously passionate about how artists are being treated in this day and age and what things can be improved upon. I feel like I’m seeing countless people complain about the little money that comes from Spotify and bigger artists revealing how screwed they get out of revenue, but we all fall short of solutions. I guess the file-sharing of the past has people forever thinking that music shouldn’t cost money, but in reality, I don’t really see a fair system that doesn’t start with buying music.

Thanks for reading, contact me below with any thoughts you have.





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