Cooking Vinyl Boss: “A Lot of Artists Think the World Owes Them a Living”

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from a recent Wall Street Journal article on Spotify compensation…

Critics of Spotify’s compensation have homed in on the 0.6-to-0.84 cent the streaming service said is a reasonable estimate of what it pays per play. (The company actually has a formula that relies on ever-changing variables for getting at that figure.) But Spotify has released another number worth noting: $2 billion. That’s the amount the company late last year said it had sent to rights holders globally since its inception in 2008.

Cooking Vinyl co-founder Martin Goldschmidt says those focusing on the tiny payments artists receive are missing the bigger picture:

“The more interesting thing is the fact that I’m earning more money,” he says. “[Spotify] is earning artists and the industry more money.”

And there’s a not-insignificant bonus: Streaming services that offer easy, paid access to music have proven an effective way to draw in listeners who might otherwise choose illegal downloads, Mr. Goldschmidt said. He calls Spotify “the best thing the industry has ever done to fight piracy.”

“Music is consumed now more than it ever has been on the planet, but most people don’t pay for it” or pay “very, very little,” he says.

“What Spotify is doing is getting people to pay for it.”

Sachin Doshi, Spotify’s vice president of content and distribution, said he thinks the company has found a formula for growth that “will help bring the industry to its peak and beyond.”

It has a way to go: U.S. recording-industry revenue topped out at $14.6 billion in 1999. In 2014, it was $7 billion. Complaints about Spotify’s payouts might just as well be directed at that dropoff, in an industry battered by piracy and myriad new players competing for music fans’ eyes, ears and dollars. It’s hard to pay musicians with money that isn’t there.

“A lot of artists think the world owes them a living,” says Mr. Goldschmidt. “And it doesn’t.”

 

Image: taxcredits.com, adapted under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC by 2.0) license.

17 Responses

  1. Whaaaa?

    “This would be a great business if it weren’t for the artists” – David Geffen

    Reply
  2. Sam

    I’d rather someone steal my music than stream it on an unpaid subscription. The pay is almost the same, and with piracy – at least I’m not supporting a bunch of tech douchebags who know nothing about music beyond the dollars it generates.

    “A lot of non-musical tech assholes think that artists owe them a living,” says Sam. “And they don’t.”

    Reply
    • Tech Music

      “I’m not supporting a bunch of tech douchebags who know nothing about music beyond the dollars it generates.

      “A lot of non-musical tech assholes think that artists owe them a living,” says Sam. “And they don’t.”

      A lot of self- described “artist” douchebags don’t know anything about music, know nothing about the business AND know nothing about tech, either.

      Nobody owes those folks a living. Indeed, they don’t deserve much of anything.

      Reply
  3. Me2

    “A lot of non-musical tech assholes think that artists owe them a living,” says Sam. “And they don’t.”

    Well said.

    Although I see some point in having fans download/share rather than stream on unpaid subscription, the truth is that the main central hubs for this are typically run by douchebags of a much higher order. Artists labels and studios don’t owe them a living either. More like a punch in the throat.

    Reply
  4. Versus

    What a rude and obnoxious comment.
    No one thinks the world owes them a living.
    They do think that think that they deserve to be fairly paid if the world wants their work.
    That is: They believe, quite reasonably, that their work should not be stolen.
    Intellectual property laws have to be enforced.

    Reply
    • SoDoItThen

      No one has unique control to force what they think is fair payment is for their their work. Markets have both buyers and sellers. You sell at the price people will pay or, not at all. That’s reality.
      Spotify and Spotify users don’t steal anything. If they did, they’d be prosecuted. That’s a fact.
      You have intellectual property laws that are yours to enforce. Enforce them if you feel you’re being wronged. Problem solved.

      Reply
      • David

        Fine. I’m sure you’ll agree then that we should repeal the DMCA and other legislation that gives tech companies a privileged immunity against the normal operation of IP law.

        Reply
      • SoDoItThen

        Why do you think that I would agree that the DMCA and other legislation – that are part of our IP law – should be repealed?

        Wait, let me guess: Because it is only THOSE particular parts of the entire framework, that you think aren’t part of the “normal operation of IP law.” And of course, YOU know what that “normal IP law” is/should be.

        In case you missed it: It’s ALL part of the IP law, as it stands. Sorry but, you don’t get to say which parts of it that you personally, might not like just shouldn’t be there. The DMCA protections are just as “normal” as requiring absolutely NO formalities or registration of copyrighted works, just as “normal” as that totally unregistered copyright lasting life PLUS another 70 years, etc., etc. The same legislature that took those incredible leaps away from the original purpose and intent of IP are the same ones that gave us the DMCA.

        If we really want to talk about how U.S. IP law isn’t “normal,” we should start at the very beginning, as our IP law was intended to only grant a limited (both in scope and in time) right, with the primary purpose of ensuring that ideas and creations would be disseminated to the public, and not necessarily to protect creators.

        It’s pretty much been bastardized ever since then, almost always in favor of copyright owners and collectors. Resulting in websites like this one, where terribly misinformed folks feel comfortable yammering on about how they think they aren’t being protected adequately.

        Reply
          • David

            To expand, slightly, on my last comment, yes, I do know what the ‘normal course’ of IP law should be. It would be a system of law that does not grant extraordinary exemptions to special interests. That is pretty much the definition of ‘the rule of law’. The DMCA did provide for extraordinary exemptions. Such exemptions may sometimes be justified, but (a) they should be time-limited (i.e. they should expire after a fixed period unless reviewed and renewed), and (b) they should be strictly interpreted (i.e. if there is any doubt about their interpretation, e.g. about the extent of ‘safe harbor’, it should be construed in favor of the general rule, not the exception).

          • Anonymous

            Safe harbor protections should only last for the life of the company founders + 70 years. Any longer is ridiculous!

        • SoDoItThen

          Well, David, thank you so much for “expanding” on your initial, extremely thoughtful message.

          To expand, slightly, on Anonymous’ comment, if you truly do know that the ‘normal course’ of IP law should be a system of law that does not grant extraordinary exemptions to special interests and if so, they should be time-limited (i.e. they should expire after a fixed period unless reviewed and renewed), and (b) they should be strictly interpreted (i.e. if there is any doubt about their interpretation, e.g. about the extent of ‘safe harbor’, it should be construed in favor of the general rule, not the exception). Then, it is clear that you MUST agree (among many other things) that:

          Safe harbor protections should last the life of the ISP – plus70 years.

          and

          The exception, passed only in 1976, that included “phonorecords” as protected by copyright ought to also be strictly interpreted, and therefore clearly should NOT apply to digital music files, which aren’t anything like physical “phonorecords.”

          Reply
  5. Sam @ Projekt

    “A lot of artists think the world owes them a living,” says Mr. Goldschmidt. “And it doesn’t.”

    Goldschmidt seems to be missing the point here, as Versus points out. Artists think the world would be a better place if people paid for the music they are listening to for free (or nearly free). Hardly anything revolutionary in thinking we should be paid for our work.

    “The World” owes me nothing. People consuming music owe something. Just like I owe you, when I partake in what you do for a living.

    Reply
  6. JAIO

    I think you’re all missing the point of the comment you’re blasting. Yes, many people do think the world owes them a living. I’ve worked with over 500 artists in my 40 year career. None have sold platinum records. A few have sold gold. Most didn’t make it five years. A few have lasted 30 or more. A common refrain in my career has been the “artist” who declares that they’re not being paid enough. Of course, that’s a common refrain heard at every business.

    Reply
  7. David

    It doesn’t surprise me when Spotify waves the ‘big stick’ of piracy to intimidate artists into accepting the pittance they get from streaming services. It does surprise me when a record company boss says the same things. But then, ‘the more interesting thing is the fact that I’m earning more money’, he says. So maybe his artists should be looking closely at their contracts and accounts to see if *they* are also earning more money, and if not, why not. And I’m sure Mr Goldschmidt would be happy to tell them if his company has received any lump sum payments not attributable to any particular artists.

    Reply
  8. Bad News Barnes

    Congratulations to WSJ and Mr. Goldschmidt for providing DMN with today’s big fat worm to hook the readership into displaying their best righteous indignation. Big fun. I don’t know Martin, but I’ve been in a similar seat, and I basically agree with all he’s said here, and I share his optimism. Most comments here seem to be from those who aptly fit the subject of the headline quote. Try reading it again, slowly, and carefully. Besides his implication that a key element of an artist success is the work and commitment that will be needed (so, not something “owed” to you), you should consider what he means by “a living”. I always judged that as earning enough to start a family, maybe buy a home, or the equivalent for those not so inclined. Just think about how many musicians out there are vying for those precious livings, and you must also admit that that supply of “livings” could/should never meet the demand. He’s just saying, that you need to work hard (and not just on the music) and also learn to trust those who are likely working just as hard as you to make it happen. Oh, and also: when to give it up.

    Reply

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