Why I don’t care about Apple, Beats, Spotify, or any other service that supposedly will “revolutionize music”:
TLDR: You need to do more than purchase a Spotify account to support music.
Not one single iota of what these companies do is to help music, musicians, or budding musicians. It never will be. These companies want easily exploitable assets which allow the most income with the least resistance.
It’s not to say that there is a lot of money in the music streaming business; there is not. Spotify has been posting a loss for years, despite having 10 million global paying users – but where is their money going? Not to the artists, guys. The average royalty check for 10,000 plays? About .30. That’s why Apple bought beats – if people think that headphones are cool, surely they’re going to pair them with music, right? Yes – but they’re not going to pay for it, and they expect that they can purchase their headphones for $200 an never have to purchase one single song they listen to and enjoy.
My issue is that these companies decry the artists that they make their money off of because these artists are looking to be paid for their work (by making it harder and harder for them to be paid and/or making them feel bad for asking what they will be paid) – and I’m not just talking about the heavy hitters that make millions of dollars; I’m talking about the indie artists that manage to get a song cracking the top streaming charts, and still get paid nothing. It took a band from Michigan streaming their album made of silence for people to start to realize what it takes for an indie band to make any money off streaming. At 0.007 a stream, you can do the math on how many streams you need to buy a coke.
The issue is no longer labels, an over-saturated market, or anything else of that sort – it is consumerism, period. Companies like Beats and Apple are very good at not helping out artists, because that’s how they make money. I myself had a conversation with a Beats exec about exactly how much Beats planned on paying out to artists. He couldn’t tell me, and why? Because even HE doesn’t know. Does he have to care? Nope. He just made a nice chunk of change off the sale of the streaming portion of a company built around making you look “Cool” while listening to music.
You know what matters a lot more than your looking Cool? Good music, talent, and innovation. I’m not telling you that “music was better 20 years ago”, or any of that bullshit – there’s plenty of good music to be heard now, and I’m not even saying that current music is entirely bad, it is not. My issue is simply with the fact that you are being tricked into thinking that the only thing that matters when consuming art is the package that it’s placed in. Buy your $200 pair of Beats headphones, connect them to your ipod or iphone which cost upwards of $300 (not counting your phone contract), connect that iphone to your $2000 computer, but stop figuring that all the stuff that you get to consume didn’t cost money, time, energy, and pain to create. Things don’t just happen. They aren’t just created, and just because you paid $200 for headphones and $5 for a spotify account doesn’t mean that that guy whose music you found who isn’t Kanye West is making any money off that song that really hits you “right here”. Your headphones don’t give your entitled ass the right to every fucking song on the planet. You have to give something back – sorry kids.
There is no easy answer, here. Big companies have no reason to help musicians, in their eyes, but they are wrong. Like education, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, you have to invest in the next generation. Just like helping the next generation of Engineers, some of these companies could stand to invest in the next generation of musicians, engineers, and technicians, instead of devaluing the services we all offer to the point that we give up and don’t bother anymore (and I know lots that are at that point).
Since that won’t happen from ANY of these companies, it’s up to you; you have to actually take a moment to find an artist that isn’t being fed to you by Apple, explore their music, and support something that hasn’t been vetted for you to consume. If you discover new music via Beats, good for you, but you’d damn well better go out and support that artist if you want to hear more music from them, because Beasts is going to pay them absolutely nothing for every single time you stream their song on those “cool headphones”.
Democratization of the tools only goes so far. Yes, we can all get our music onto iTunes. BIG DEAL. It does nothing. You think that Apple will ever, EVER, feature an artist that isn’t being exploited to the full functionality of the corporations that make their living off so-called creativity? No. They will not, and neither will Pandora, Beats, Spotify, Rdio, Grooveshark, or any of the other hundreds of services making revenue off the streaming of musician’s work. I know, I’ve wrestled with each of these services to sometimes even GET my music onto them, much less get paid.
Do not take good creativity for granted. When you do, you get what you deserve – all the Biebers and so-called artists will be all you’re left with.