Does streaming really help?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
TomViolenz
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Re: Does streaming really help?

Post by TomViolenz » Thu Aug 27, 2015 10:03 am

H20nly wrote: i'm confused about your expectations here. do you think that you should write your best track and that streaming services should take note of the extreme quality of this track and pay you handsomely to live off of the the proceeds of this one (or even 21 one tracks) happily ever after?

it kind of sounds like you do. one dollar a month per subscriber just for you! wouldn't that be just swell...
Again with the misrepresentation of my position?! :roll:
Haven't we both been over exactly this before? Several times!?

I explain it one more time, just for you: With Spotify (and co.) WE CAN'T POSSIBLY WIN!!!
They are not a future mode of advertisment and distribution, they are the enemy. In the same way that Uber is the enemy of cab drivers.

Their business model renegotiated the income structure of all artists down to basically zero.
They not only forced this bad pay structure on artists, but they also made sure that our product is devalued in the eyes of our costumers to zero.
If you use their services and play by their rules, you will automatically lose.

When not using Spotify, you are of course still in a bad situation, since everyone expects you to be. But as long as you still manage to get recognition, you might have a chance.

The sad (or hopeful?) fact is, it is us artists who decide if they win. If only a few of us are not on Spotify, no one will notice. But if everyone who, in all honesty, has nothing to gain from them, avoids it, then their all-you-can-eat buffet will be empty of independent music and only filled with music of the majors. That would probably still work for them, since this is what the majority of people listen to. But it would also leave the option open for a new service to come in with more favorable conditions to us indies and offer a possibly more expensive, but also higher quality service for people with a non mass market taste. Think of it as a new UnitedArtists.

That will not happen if our stuff is on Spotify (and co.) anyways.
Because as Stromkraft noted, our customers will most likely not get a different, possibly more expensive service, just to support us. They simply don't care enough.
But if it's the only way to listen to non-mainstream music, they will. And it will probably then become a way of cultural distinction for them. The new hipster cool.

i think you're failing to realize that gathering a large enough following to reap the kind of benefits you expect from Spotify make you a slave to plenty of other shit along the way... if you want the kind of plays that pay well, you need to bring the number of subscribers that push the model. like it or not.
No what you are failing to realize is that there is almost no conceivable number of subscribers you can bring to get you a liveable wage with Spotify. You need literally 10s-100s of millions of streams per month just to make it over the poverty line. (0.01-0.001ct/stream)
That's why this "business" model needs to be fought at every step.

Stromkraft
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Re: Does streaming really help?

Post by Stromkraft » Thu Aug 27, 2015 10:31 am

TomViolenz wrote: And the more you move away from living off your music and move towards earning a living with these methods, the further away you move from being an artist and come closer and closer to being a nice little corporate slave.
It's mostly an illusion you can choose not to be nice little corporate slave anyway. It's just a matter of in which profession and capacity. If you're running your own thing the chance increase of feeling in control at least of the compromises you are likely to have to do, sooner or later. If you do these in some other job, you are still serving corporate interest if only indirectly. Or if you're living of the family fortune, it was probably built on exploitation at some point in time.

I do fail to see how T-shirts for example can't be a part of artistic expression. Do you reason the same way for covers? Maybe you were targeting a bigger picture than that?
Last edited by Stromkraft on Thu Aug 27, 2015 10:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
Make some music!

Stromkraft
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Re: Does streaming really help?

Post by Stromkraft » Thu Aug 27, 2015 10:33 am

H20nly wrote:
it kind of sounds like you do. one dollar a month per subscriber just for you! wouldn't that be just swell...
How about if Spotify paid the artists/labels for the actual plays. They are not doing that currently. There are a lot of reports about this fact.
Make some music!

Stromkraft
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Re: Does streaming really help?

Post by Stromkraft » Thu Aug 27, 2015 10:45 am

TomViolenz wrote:

Their [Spotify] business model renegotiated the income structure of all artists down to basically zero.
They not only forced this bad pay structure on artists, but they also made sure that our product is devalued in the eyes of our costumers to zero.
If you use their services and play by their rules, you will automatically lose.

When not using Spotify, you are of course still in a bad situation, since everyone expects you to be. But as long as you still manage to get recognition, you might have a chance.

The sad (or hopeful?) fact is, it is us artists who decide if they win. If only a few of us are not on Spotify, no one will notice. But if everyone who, in all honesty, has nothing to gain from them, avoids it, then their all-you-can-eat buffet will be empty of independent music and only filled with music of the majors. That would probably still work for them, since this is what the majority of people listen to. But it would also leave the option open for a new service to come in with more favorable conditions to us indies and offer a possibly more expensive, but also higher quality service for people with a non mass market taste. Think of it as a new UnitedArtists.

That will not happen if our stuff is on Spotify (and co.) anyways.
Because as Stromkraft noted, our customers will most likely not get a different, possibly more expensive service, just to support us. They simply don't care enough.




No what you are failing to realize is that there is almost no conceivable number of subscribers you can bring to get you a liveable wage with Spotify. You need literally 10s-100s of millions of streams per month just to make it over the poverty line. (0.01-0.001ct/stream)
That's why this "business" model needs to be fought at every step.
I'm mostly in agreement with you on this Tom, but as with anything I think Streaming services can be used as a marketing tool as well. It's a choice — making a deal with the enemy —  an artist does need to make a decision on. mredelurk as many of us are struggling with the best strategy for this.

I feel multiple approaches can work, but one should not as a smaller artist count with Streaming being an investment that will pay off in direct income.

I think artists and (smaller) labels should organize and work together to create their own solutions as alternatives to Streaming services like Spotify. If you're in a smaller scene where significant artists chose to not license to streaming services and at the same time provide another viable model for getting music to people, then you do have some control and can potentially build something. But this is where an artist need people with other talents than artists to work with. Maybe smaller labels can find a new role here?
Make some music!

TomViolenz
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Re: Does streaming really help?

Post by TomViolenz » Thu Aug 27, 2015 11:08 am

Stromkraft wrote:
H20nly wrote:
it kind of sounds like you do. one dollar a month per subscriber just for you! wouldn't that be just swell...
How about if Spotify paid the artists/labels for the actual plays. They are not doing that currently. There are a lot of reports about this fact.
That's one of the demands I would have of this alternative service I dream of.

TomViolenz
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Re: Does streaming really help?

Post by TomViolenz » Thu Aug 27, 2015 11:12 am

Stromkraft wrote:
I do fail to see how T-shirts for example can't be a part of artistic expression. Do you reason the same way for covers? Maybe you were targeting a bigger picture than that?
I'm not against making T-Shirts, I'm against having to depend on them as income, because the T-Shirt wearer can't be arsed to pay for my actual output.

mrdelurk
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Re: Does streaming really help?

Post by mrdelurk » Thu Aug 27, 2015 12:59 pm

TomViolenz wrote:I'm not against making T-Shirts, I'm against having to depend on them as income, because the T-Shirt wearer can't be arsed to pay for my actual output.
This "can't be arsed to pay" phenomenon seems to have started with software piracy, but then it expanded into similar devaluation of music, ebooks, then videos, then smartphone apps, soon to branch into piracy of 3D fabricating plans*, scientific research, property titles, then securities, then currency (as money is now just 1s and 0s in computers, like software that is already widely pirated). Next it will likely reach anything else, since pirated money will buy physical objects like cars and houses presumed unstealable (or deemed wrong to steal, as you prefer). We seem to be hurtling towards a world (coming in our lifetime) where nothing has a commercial value anymore; a situation hard even to visualize. Though one could conceivably claim that pirating money is what Enron (and any other firm who files bogus financial reports) does, which might help visualization a tad.

So our musicians' struggle to find a way to make this "can't be arsed to pay" world work is what's coming to scientists, realtors, bankers, manufacturers, farmers, everyone down the line. Did the software guys, the first gang to be hit with this ever solved it?

*so people can soon download an actual grand piano, not just its multisample

owlmerlyn
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Re: Does streaming really help?

Post by owlmerlyn » Thu Aug 27, 2015 4:58 pm

TomViolenz wrote:I explain it one more time, just for you: With Spotify (and co.) WE CAN'T POSSIBLY WIN!!!
They are not a future mode of advertisment and distribution, they are the enemy. In the same way that Uber is the enemy of cab drivers.
Tom, you are saying that Spotify is the enemy. But is that true? Its not Spotify that changed the world, but the internet and the piracy that came with it, and the resulting change in attitudes amongst consumers. To my mind its accurate to say, if you follow your reasoning, that our fans are the real enemy. They are the ones who don't give a dam about the artists behind the music that they love. They are the ones, who when given a choice, will steal your output rather than pay for it. And, if they are the enemy, then we might as well give up now. But, if we choose to not think of them as the enemy then we have to find additional ways of adding to our bank balance... which brings us back to t-shirts, and gigs. And I refer to Stromkrafts point about people wanting to own something cool, and my point about being able to generate unique and meaningful experiences for listeners.
TomViolenz wrote:Their business model renegotiated the income structure of all artists down to basically zero.
They not only forced this bad pay structure on artists, but they also made sure that our product is devalued in the eyes of our costumers to zero.
If you use their services and play by their rules, you will automatically lose.
The first outfit that "renegotiated" the "business model" was Napster. And follow that up with Youtube, Piratebay etc. I am not trying to be an apologist for Spotify, per se (and to be honest I have never used it because its not available in my country), but it seems to me they are at least trying to do something about it. Yes they pay miniscule on the free service. But as they say: "By bringing listeners into our free, ad-supported tier, we migrate them away from piracy and less monetised platforms and allow them to generate far greater royalties than they were before. Once they are using our free tier, we drive users to our premium subscription tier, at least doubling the amount that they spend on music, from less than $5 per month (the average spent by download consumers in The US) to $9.99 per month for Spotify."

To be honest, all I have is my recent experience of earning $50 over 6 months. Not anywhere near a living, but still more than I had. Almost all of that came from Spotify. And we are not currently a big band with a massive following.

Also, the artists have always been screwed by the industry. Whether it were the contracts that offered 5-10% royalty on LP/CD sales (minus the fine-print deductions), i-Tunes that offers a stupid amount per digital sale - and if you are unluckly signed to a label its even worse because the labels offer an even smaller percentage on digital sales etc. Very few artists ever made it through the pack to survive on their music. Spotify is a continuation of the trend started 120 years ago of businessmen trying to make music a business. But in this case, I actually think they are trying to be artist friendly in a pretty messed up industry.

Btw. this is why I try and encourage people to buy our stuff on Bandcamp rather than i-Tunes. Bandcamp is way more artist friendly. But getting them to buy... :evil: :roll:
TomViolenz wrote: When not using Spotify, you are of course still in a bad situation, since everyone expects you to be. But as long as you still manage to get recognition, you might have a chance.

The sad (or hopeful?) fact is, it is us artists who decide if they win.
You see, I don't think it is us artists who decide if they will win. Its the consumers. I would love to be wrong on this.
TomViolenz wrote: If only a few of us are not on Spotify, no one will notice. But if everyone who, in all honesty, has nothing to gain from them, avoids it, then their all-you-can-eat buffet will be empty of independent music and only filled with music of the majors. That would probably still work for them, since this is what the majority of people listen to. But it would also leave the option open for a new service to come in with more favorable conditions to us indies and offer a possibly more expensive, but also higher quality service for people with a non mass market taste. Think of it as a new UnitedArtists.

That will not happen if our stuff is on Spotify (and co.) anyways.
Because as Stromkraft noted, our customers will most likely not get a different, possibly more expensive service, just to support us. They simply don't care enough.
But if it's the only way to listen to non-mainstream music, they will. And it will probably then become a way of cultural distinction for them. The new hipster cool.
If this happens that a cultarlly "cool" service starts that punters actually pay for and therefore more money is generated for the artists, then I am there. But I don't see it happening. Think what Mandonna and them are trying with Tidal (and thats not even for indie artists). Lets see if that works.

owlmerlyn
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Re: Does streaming really help?

Post by owlmerlyn » Thu Aug 27, 2015 5:10 pm

Stromkraft wrote:I feel multiple approaches can work, but one should not as a smaller artist count with Streaming being an investment that will pay off in direct income.
Or at least in meaningful income
Stromkraft wrote:I think artists and (smaller) labels should organize and work together to create their own solutions as alternatives to Streaming services like Spotify. If you're in a smaller scene where significant artists chose to not license to streaming services and at the same time provide another viable model for getting music to people, then you do have some control and can potentially build something. But this is where an artist need people with other talents than artists to work with. Maybe smaller labels can find a new role here?
I am reminded here of companies that try for a more indie-artist friendly approach... Bandcamp, Tribe of Noise, CD Baby, Reverbnation. Beatport etc. I think a big problem with all of them is traction. People who buy music go to iTunes because its iTunes. They dont go to Bandcamp. Artists go to Bandcamp, and have to make a noise to their fans about doing the same. And if they are lucky, 10% of their fans go, and 5% go back again. I think instead of starting a new initiative, there are already good ones out there and our energy should go into promoting them, helping them build momentum as a first-choice options.

H20nly
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Re: Does streaming really help?

Post by H20nly » Thu Aug 27, 2015 5:55 pm

TomViolenz wrote:
H20nly wrote: i think you're failing to realize that gathering a large enough following to reap the kind of benefits you expect from Spotify make you a slave to plenty of other shit along the way... if you want the kind of plays that pay well, you need to bring the number of subscribers that push the model. like it or not.
No what you are failing to realize is that there is almost no conceivable number of subscribers you can bring to get you a liveable wage with Spotify. You need literally 10s-100s of millions of streams per month just to make it over the poverty line. (0.01-0.001ct/stream)
That's why this "business" model needs to be fought at every step.
when you sit down to make a track is your goal to make pennies off of streams?

i would think that your goal is to make a track that (at least) you like and (preferably) others like too. Spotify/Pandora/Beats et al can give you 10 pennies per play or a hundred pennies per play and you'll still need millions of plays to live off that model.

instead of thinking of it in terms of what they pay you, try instead to think of it in terms of the global audience you are reaching.
if some guy in California (me) playing darts on his back patio with friends hears a cool track in a rotation, he might buy that track [true story]. this single purchase likely exceeds your streaming reimbursements for the entire month (at penny play rates or 1/100th of penny play rates). But the track was exposed to all the people playing darts too. now they're talking about it. if the whole album seems good... then it could result in the purchase of an album.

meanwhile, some kid in Glasgow hears your track and uses the buy from iTunes or buy from Google button to purchase the track which he plans to use to impress his friends with his eclectic music collection tomorrow.

many kilometers away, a girl in Scandinavia is tapping her fingers at a stop sign, she likes your track. she reaches her destination and bookmarks it to come back to later... she thinks you're worth looking into. on Spotify (unlike Pandora) she can do this.

buskers have 100s of people walk by them before they get any money in their hat... but somehow, they get money in their hat anyway... this is the online equivalent of that, but you get payed even when people keep walking. so now people hear you... it's up to YOU to impress them and get them to support you.

it's in that moment when the money changes hands, Stromkraft's examples of feeling the ownership of the product begin to prevail and you have a fan who holds a piece of your talent in high regard. all because they were fortunate enough to hear your track out of the millions they could have heard... and they were impressed. <-key

TomViolenz
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Re: Does streaming really help?

Post by TomViolenz » Thu Aug 27, 2015 7:05 pm

See, this is where our outlooks for the future differ. I believe services like Spotify will do away fully with the ownership model of music. Why buy a track, if it is already on your phone?

So the only thing the guy in the California back yard, the kid in Glasgow or the Scandinavian girl will do is put it in their Spotify playlists, for me to earn another 0.003ct. Yippy Yeah!

I simply don't believe in it to be advertisment. It's much too convenient a service for that.
I give it 10 years max until Spotify and co. will be the only game in town.

SLEEarts
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Re: Does streaming really help?

Post by SLEEarts » Thu Aug 27, 2015 8:17 pm

My two cents:

Streaming is a very small upgrade to the previous status quo: outright theft by piracy (assuming the musician isn't giving it away).

Look, the old model that used to provide musicians with a real shot at earning a living wage with their recordings went out with the invention of Napster, and there's no going back now.

In my view, the best course of action is for all creative people to band together in a union and lobby the governments of the world for patronage. Don't even bother with the business sector. What everyone needs is a guaranteed minimum income. With that, streaming services would just be a wonderful service; the most efficient way to get your sounds into other people's ears.

mrdelurk
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Re: Does streaming really help?

Post by mrdelurk » Thu Aug 27, 2015 8:47 pm

SLEEarts wrote:lobby the governments of the world for patronage.
When I calculate what getting involved with music cost me in education/gear/etc outlays vs what it paid me (1.5 years of income) so far, my overall balance is a negative house (-$100.000). Like being involved with Hurricane Katrina. If this is typical, maybe the music sector could qualify as a federal disaster area... :-/

H20nly
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Re: Does streaming really help?

Post by H20nly » Thu Aug 27, 2015 9:01 pm

TomViolenz wrote:So the only thing the guy in the California back yard, the kid in Glasgow or the Scandinavian girl will do is put it in their Spotify playlists, for me to earn another 0.003ct. Yippy Yeah!
i get your point... but this is simply not true.

in my examples i stated that the guy in California was me. i've purchased many albums in the way i described. that one play that the artist is getting .0001 cent for also sold their track and/or whole album. that single play made them part of my music collection.

in days past someone would play an album or talk about a band and quite often (especially with indie bands/labels) that was how the word was spread.

what's next? should you get a penny if someone plays your track and their guests hear it at their party?

i would agree with you 100% if it weren't for the simple fact that the streaming service makes buying the track almost instantly a reality... while it's still playing.

the radio has never done that
MTV never did that
being at a bar or club doesn't do that
jukeboxes don't do that

only the merch table at the show and streaming do that.

TomViolenz
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Re: Does streaming really help?

Post by TomViolenz » Thu Aug 27, 2015 9:09 pm

H20nly wrote:
TomViolenz wrote:So the only thing the guy in the California back yard, the kid in Glasgow or the Scandinavian girl will do is put it in their Spotify playlists, for me to earn another 0.003ct. Yippy Yeah!
i get your point... but this is simply not true.

in my examples i stated that the guy in California was me. i've purchased many albums in the way i described. that one play that the artist is getting .0001 cent for also sold their track and/or whole album. that single play made them part of my music collection.

in days past someone would play an album or talk about a band and quite often (especially with indie bands/labels) that was how the word was spread.

what's next? should you get a penny if someone plays your track and their guests hear it at their party?

i would agree with you 100% if it weren't for the simple fact that the streaming service makes buying the track almost instantly a reality... while it's still playing.

the radio has never done that
MTV never did that
being at a bar or club doesn't do that
jukeboxes don't do that

only the merch table at the show and streaming do that.
I would believe in the advertisment angle with a 2-3 times play limit per track. After that you buy it (with the direct convenient link provided as you mentioned) or you will never hear it again.
This would even have a great knock on effect with cheapskates, since they would continously have to search for new music. And getting more people exposed to new music is always a good thing IMO 8)
And I would also believe that this will fight piracy somewhat, because of the convenience to have the download link right there, to incorporate it directly into the library you use anyways, artwork and all.
Thinking about it, I would sign up to such a service in a heartbeat, they can even keep their 0.001ct per play.
I think this is how it should be done.

But with how it is now, I'm afraid your behaviour is the exception. And one that will get even rarer as time marches on.

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