The following email to Spotify comes from John Silk, aka DJ Scaramanga Silk. It was sent earlier this week, and shared with Digital Music News.
----- Original Message ----- From: Scaramanga Silk (Comms) Sent: To: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Spotify helped me buy my first house Dear Spotify, I cannot thank you enough. If it was not for your company, I would not have been able to just buy my first house! Now I am fully aware that there is much controversy about the Spotify business model. It appears to be great for consumers but many independent artists and smaller record labels do not feel that they benefit from the service. Therefore, I hope that my story can be some good PR for you and also reassuring to artists and labels at the same time. Having worked in the industry as a DJ, Producer and Songwriter, I have seen many developments over the years.
As a fan of technology, I was very intrigued by Spotify when it launched. For me, it was clear that the best approach was to adopt a 'long tail' model. By this, my focus was to produce a high volume of releases which would bring in revenue over a sustained time period. Unlike physical formats, there is no restriction to quantity pressed and reliance on shops to stock releases. Therefore, I ensured that any releases that I signed to labels were represented on Spotify and that I would get my relevant percentage of stream revenue. By dedicating my time to working on multiple projects under various pseudonyms (and even as a ghost producer on many occasions), I have managed to build up a significant portfolio of releases totalling 157 tracks approximately (at present). These have been released across a number of labels in a range of genres. Many of the tracks have been for the independent music sector and have included remixes, originals, production and writing credits. There have even been a handful of film scores included. Luckily, many of these releases have had good marketing exposure which always helps. So, after several years of adapting to the new digital landscape, I can confirm that the 'long tail' model can work. I do appreciate that if an artist or label cannot produce mass volume then they may struggle to achieve this level of success. Furthermore, it is also very important that running costs are kept low. If I had to hire a studio full-time, then this would have been a major impediment. Fortunately for me, I have been able to establish a studio from DJing fees. In addition, I do not self release my material anymore. This means that time / cost / marketing is the responsibility of the label. However, there is a trade-off to be had here as I get a smaller percentage share of stream revenue as I am not the sole owner of the work because the labels take their percentage too. From my calculations, this solution is the most cost-effective for my requirements. Each year, I find that the revenue from streaming is consistent. In fact, as I release more material, I have also found that revenue on previous releases has an uplift. This confirms that the 'catalogue approach' applied to the 'long tail' model is a system that can work for the modern day musician. The beauty of it all is that there are no costs involved once a track is created. The labels / distributors manage the Spotify upload and admin process. I do not have to worry about test pressings, manufacturing, distribution and delivery of physical stock for these releases. Some of the labels that I have signed to do still release vinyl and CD. They all report that sales are not what they used to be but they do inform me that they do still have a demand for physical formats. Personally, I do not use Spotify as a consumer. As a DJ, I need to have high quality audio (WAV format) and therefore opt for WAV downloads, CD or vinyl. Also, many of the independent artists and labels that I support do not have their music on Spotify so I have to source it elsewhere. Bandcamp has been fantastic for this in recent years. So, I recently received my Q2 streaming revenue statements from a number of labels. As of now, I have earned sufficient income from Spotify to enable me to buy my first house. This has been a long term dream of mine and I am delighted to have finally achieved it. Thank you so much! You can see a photo of my house here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/u64bgdyr4b3otnd/First-House_July-2013.jpeg You should pop round for tea sometime. Best regards, John Silk (a.k.a DJ Scaramanga Silk) www.ScaramangaSi.lk