We’re Only In It For The Money (not really)

This morning our music librarian, the great Nobue, forwarded me a very interesting article regarding the much-discussed future of music consumption: streaming.

If you’re at all interested in the current music business, you know that streaming is taking over, and that many artists are quite unhappy about that. The main criticism is that the royalties that musicians gain from streaming are laughably low. Even with hundreds or thousands of streams on Spotify, Pandora, or other streaming services.

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Usually the objections come from the rock world, with musicians such as Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Galaxie 500’s Damon Krukowski, as well as music writers like Nitsuh Abebe adding to an ongoing discussion on the large drawbacks of streaming for musicians. However, this problem extends to composers in many genres, including new age and fusion jazz, as per this article that Nobue sent me.

Penned by composer Armen Chakmakian, formerly of the band Shadowfax, this article includes screen captures of all the royalties he received in the third quarter of 2013. As he describes, a five-figure amount of streams of his compositions netted him less than five dollars. HUH? He then speaks to the fact that he knows streaming companies are making money, but none of it goes to the artists. Because of this, he has quit the music business to compose for television. No matter what you may think of new age music or Shadowfax, it’s sad to know that the music industry is losing voices because we can’t figure out a way to keep artists paid.

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This ongoing problem is something that (as we can see here) has the potential to kill off a large amount of artists. While streaming services have indeed helped make music more accessible to the public, they might also be making sure that in the future there will be less music to share.

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