Magazine article Variety

Hate Your Label, Not the Stream

Magazine article Variety

Hate Your Label, Not the Stream

Article excerpt

Internet revenue could restore the balance of power between artist and distributor

Once upon a time recording was profitable.

Then MTV came along, and with the advent of the CD, revenues soared. But artists bitched that they were receiving half their usual royalties, as the labels invested in the new format. Their complaints went nowhere, and the CD made not only the companies rich, but those who ran them. That was the switch. The Beatles et al. stole power from the labels, but in the '80s, the labels took it back, because there was just too much money involved. And the more money, the more risk.

Now, recording revenues have shrunk. But streaming, and Spotify, could bring them back. That's the dirty little secret artists are too ignorant to understand - that if everybody's paying, the overall pot grows.

But the problem with artists is they don't see the big picture.

You think the label is making you famous.

Once upon a time, the label not only made you famous, you made a lot of money on recordings if you hit. The evisceration of this model is not the fault of either the labels or of Spotify. Those who think Spotify is ruining royalty payments believe 8-tracks and cassettes should have never replaced LPs. Change happens.

And the latest change is that without the money and power of the label behind you, you probably will go unnoticed.

So maybe, despite having such a low royalty payment, that's what you've earned.

I know this is heretical. But the point is, no one is preventing you from going it alone. Now, more than at any time in modern recording history, you can do it yourself. You can record cheaply, distribute and get paid. But the truth is, most of the people complaining about their indie Spotify payments are known only for this model; they're niche artists at best.

No one who's a newly minted household name is complaining.

In other words, you give to get.

You give your rights to the label in order to get a chance at fame and riches. …

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