USA Today, one of the most mainstream publications in America, just called us about an article they’re writing on music royalties (or lack thereof). Indeed, Pink Floyd chose USA Today to excoriate Pandora’s royalty-chopping trickery of artists.
Elsewhere, hugely-established papers like the Wall Street Journal and New York Times are starting to weigh into the debate. All of which prompts a fairly scary question for internet radio and streaming services, major labels, and others:
Is the mainstream starting to notice? And if so, what does that mean for mainstream music fans?
Enter the New Yorker, whose author célèbre Sasha Frere-Jones is the latest to plunge into a debate that now includes names like Jay-Z (or now, ‘Jay Z’), Thom Yorke, Nigel Godrich, and Ticketmaster CEO Nathan Hubbard. After catching readers up on the bloody boxing match, Frere-Jones quickly takes off his own pair of gloves.
“The shortest version is that the Spotify model does not favor new artists,” Frere-Jones writes, referring to the Yorke protest. “The larger grumbling about streaming services in the musician community is that the various services, which are governed by fluid and complex laws that are changing as we speak, favor nobody but the major labels that helped fund and grow some of them.”
The next question is probably more scary for rights owners than the Tim Westergrens of the world.
“The issue beneath all the complaints about micropayments is fundamental: What are recordings now? Are they an artistic expression that musicians cannot be compensated for but will create simply out of need? Are they promotional tools? What seems clear is that streaming arrangements, like those made with Spotify, are institutionalizing a marginal role for the recordings that were once major income streams for working musicians…”
The New Yorker article, which includes detailed interview with Galaxie 500 drummer (and sharp Spotify critic) Damon Krukowski, is here.