Music Industry

On the Subject of Music Streaming Services…

You may have heard artists like Thom Yorke and David Byrne rage against the rise of streaming music services and how they’re hurting the music business.

“Yes, of course, they’d wail like that,” you say, “because their old source of revenue–the selling of music in either physical or digital form–is cutting into their incomes.  But these guys have made their money.  The real victims in this are up-and-coming artists.  Streaming will be the death of them!”

Really?  That’s not the opinion of Ron Pope, an indie artist out of New York City.  He’d like to share his experiences.

My name is Ron Pope. I’m an independent musician, producer, songwriter, and label owner. I read the recent post on the Guardian ’Plugged In’ which questioned why no independent artists are standing up and cheering for Spotify. It seemed as if they were beseeching someone like me to respond.I want to be clear that no one from Spotify has asked me to write this article and I’m not being paid for sharing my opinion. In the past, I’ve heard many people complain that no one wants to talk numbers when it comes to streaming revenue; well, here are mine. My music was added to Spotify in September of 2010; through the most recent report, which runs through November 2013, I’ve had over 57 million plays and they’ve paid me out $334,636 with over $200,000 of that coming in 2013. I’m getting over a million streams in Sweden alone most months. As a result of this, I was offered a very respectable guarantee to play at the Bråvalla festival there last summer, where singalongs like this happened during every song.

He goes on in a very honest fashion.  He sounds pretty happy with the new emerging status quo.  Read more at Digital Music News.

But what about here in Canada?  Outside of Songza (full disclosure: I work for them so I’m privvy to monthly user statistics–and they’re very good), streaming music has yet to make any kind of meaningful impact in the Canadian marketplace.  Only Songza and Deezer have a physical presence in this country.  Rdio had one rep based out of Toronto but she was let  in a restructuring; the Canadian operations are now run out of San Francisco. Slacker has Canadian freelance curators, but their office in San Diego.  Pandora?  Fuggedaboutit.  And while the US and Europe are enamored with Spotify, there’s no sniff of them coming to Canada.

Hell, Nielsen Soundscan doesn’t even release weekly streaming figures like they do for the US.  “No demand from the industry,” they say.

By almost any measure, Canadians are way, way behind the rest of the world when it comes to boarding the streaming bandwagon.  Why?  We’re all over streaming video through Netflix, so why the lack of uptake on streaming music?

FYI Music News takes a look at the situation.  This is a fascinating read.

For those attending Canadian Music Week this year, I’ll be moderating a panel called “Why Can’t We All Get Along” which will tackle many of the issues outlined in the FYI article.  It could get loud.


Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Alan Cross has 38022 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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