“Each time there is a new way for an artist to make money, a new way emerges for others to take it from them.”
– Jeff Price, the original founder of TuneCore and now founder/CEO of Audiam.com—whose objective is to get artists paid much more for the use of their music on YouTube.
The Internet has shaken up the way that music is bought, shared, produced and listened to today. Since the shift from CDs to digital mp3 files, the introduction of file sharing programs such as Napster and Limewire and video sharing websites such as YouTube, and the creation of online streaming platforms such as Spotify and Pandora, artists and musicians have been receiving less and less of their share of the cake, leaving them hangry (hungry + angry).
Taylor Swift acted on this hanger just before releasing her latest album, 1989, when she decided to pull all of her music off Spotify. The country music gone pop singer-songwriter became the center of discussion over whether or not streaming services pay artists enough for the rights to stream their music. Swift believes that services like Spotify hurt music sales and devalue value artists’ hard work, especially when most of the revenue goes to the labels instead of the artists. So she made it so that people can only digitally purchase, download and listen to her music on iTunes. As a T.Swift fan, I was frustrated and confused as to why T. would deprive me of listening to her new album…unless I paid for it. I honestly can’t remember the last time I bought an album. It seemed like a strange and unusual concept. But the music enthusiast in me sympathized with T’s message so I bought her CD (along with 1.287 million other people within the first week of its release).
Is it a coincidence that she broke things off with Spotify the same year she landed at the top of Billboard’s 2014 Money Makers rich list? I think not.
“I think there should be an inherent value placed on art. I didn’t see that happening, perception-wise, when I put my music on Spotify. Everybody’s complaining about how music sales are shrinking, but nobody’s changing the way they’re doing things.”
– Taylor Swift
SoundCloud is making changes, T. The Swedish music platform’s “On SoundCloud” invite-only partner program allows musicians and labels to make money off their content through ads. Since it’s launch in 2014, the program has been highly successful, paying out more than $1 million to their partners.
“SoundCloud is entering into a new phase where we’re monetizing and supporting artists, and much of the revenue goes back to the artist…Advertising is definitely going to be a major revenue stream for the company as we continue to grow and scale.”
– Dan Gerber, head of ad sales
Kudos to SoundCloud for not only acknowledging that artists’ work deserves to be valued more, but also creating a platform to make that acknowledgment a reality. The artists deserve their share of the cake. Denying them of it will only discourage them from producing more content for our ears to enjoy. I don’t want this—no one wants this. For both artists’ and our ears’ sake, I hope other streaming companies follow SoundCloud’s lead.