As I write this, “All About That Bass” from Meghan Trainor has been viewed on YouTube 1,030,296,984 times. In the last week, it was streamed more than 237,000 times in Canada and 2.5 million times in the US. Total streams are somewhere around 178,000,000. So how is it that co-writer has earned less than $6,000 from all that?
Great question. This was a topic for discussion earlier this week that involved members of Congress at a hearing at Belmont University in Nashville. But like I’ve said before, don’t blame the streaming music services. They’re just paying what they were able to negotiate with record labels, music publishers and copyright boards. They’re paying out billions in royalties. It’s just that this money isn’t getting to the artists and songwriters.
So where’s it going? Hands up to everyone who guessed “record labels.”
Troy Carter, Lady Gaga’s former manager, spoke about the issue at TechCrunch Disrupt. Here’s an executive summary. Pay close attention to point #3.
- Streaming Will Earn Artists A Lot With Enough Users – Royalty payouts from streaming might seem small now, but that’s because it’s very new. Eventually as more listeners sign-up, the payouts could match the amount artists made at the height of the $16 CD era.
- The Alternative Is Piracy – If music isn’t easily accessible for free with ads or through a subscription, people will just steal it and then artists earn nothing.
- Labels Are Hoarding The Royalties – Services like Spotify and Apple Music pay more than 70% of what they earn to the labels, and most of the rest covers expenses of running the apps. The problem is that the labels push artists into exploitative record deals where they only get a tiny share of the royalties, and the labels keep the rest.
- The Big Money’s Always Been In Touring And Merchandise – Labels have always screwed artists out of recorded music dollars. Artists should think of streaming as a way to get more famous, and sell more concert tickets and t-shirts.
You would do well to read the rest of the article here so you can have an informed opinion on whether or not streaming music services are good or bad for everyone. (Thanks to Peter for the link.)