Published Oct 11, 2013Numerous artists have spoken out against online streaming services such as Spotify, and now Talking Heads legend David Byrne has entered the fray with an op-ed decrying the current state of music on the internet.
The piece was published by the Guardian and features the tagline, "The internet will suck all the creative content out of the world."
As others have done in the past, Byrne points out that streaming services typically charge a very low membership fee, with artists only getting a small percentage of that. Major label artists typically only get 15 or 20 percent of the earnings; by his calculations, for example, the members of Daft Punk have got around $13,000 each for their song "Get Lucky," which has been listened to over 100 million times on Spotify.
He challenges the idea that streaming services should be viewed as a music discovery platform, where artists can earn their money elsewhere. He writes, "I'd be curious to know whether a significant number of people find new music in this way. I'd be even more curious if the folks who 'discover' music on these services then go on to purchase it. Why would you click and go elsewhere and pay when the free version is sitting right in front of you? Am I crazy?"
Labels are apparently making plenty of money from Spotify, thanks to large advance payments in exchange for catalogue licensing rights. According to Byrne, "The major labels are happy, the consumer is happy and the CEOs of the web services are happy. All good, except no one is left to speak for those who actually make the stuff."
Of course, the ones who will truly suffer from streaming are mid-level artists, who making a living from music but aren't insanely famous. Singling out his collaborator St. Vincent, he argues, "Many musicians like her, who seem to be well established, well known and very talented, will eventually have to find employment elsewhere or change what they do to make more money."
Byrne's op-ed is a long one — over 2,000 words — so read the whole thing over here.