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Alice In Chains Drummer Calls Spotify and Pandora “A F–king Ripoff for Musicians”

seankinney

…from a recent interview with Alice In Chains drummer Sean Kinney on classic rock station 96.5 The Fox…

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Interviewer: How does it make you feel that people can go cherry-pick songs? I mean you spend all this time crafting and writing and recording this album of songs, then people can go, ‘Well I dig this one tune, I’m going to buy this and that’s it.”

Sean Kinney:  Well that’s just the way it is, so I don’t want to put any energy into that.  That’s just how it is, and you can do anything about that.

But then you have these Spotifys and Pandoras where you get access to almost every piece of recorded music on the planet.

And then that’s great for the consumer, but for every person who’s ever recorded music it’s a f–king ripoff (oops I swore on the radio).

Because, you know, people are starting to post their checks; you get 10 million plays of your song and you get a check for $111.  It’s a weird time we live in, it’s a real balancing act.  And, so basically, you’d hope that you have an audience and you can tour, and try to break even or maybe make a little bit to make a living on tour.

But  it costs a lot: gas prices aren’t lower and instruments aren’t lower, those things don’t cost less.

So, I really don’t know how to deal with that, it is what it is.  We just go about it doing what we want and playing music, and if it comes to a time when we can’t afford to go to places — and we invest to go to places, and we’re not leaving with a briefcase of dough.  And when we can’t do that, then we just won’t be able to do it.

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Image: promotional image of Sean Kinney for Sabian cymbals; licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-SA 3.0).

 

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Comments (35)
  1. Anonymous

    I love that these people can’t differentiate between Pandora and Spotify, and that again the single worst offender in this crisis–Youtube–goes unmentioned. There will never be a solution so long as artists can’t figure out the problem or the enemy.


    Reply
    1. TuneHunter

      Whoever you are, YOU ARE ABSOLUTELY CORRECT!

      We need new FAIR USE ACT to lock music in virtual walls – lets do it now as a united effort of all artist.

      Digital music because of its nature is subject to simple THEFT!
      What is going on is a criminal activity by any law or social standard since the collapse of Roman Empire.


      Reply
      1. The ODB

        Preach it!


        Reply
        1. TuneHunter

          You’re right, but with Google bing the Cerber of digital Medieval you need someone like Oprah to be a preacher changing religion.

          There is $100B a year for grabs, I hope someone can convince her to take this assignment.


          Reply
    2. Paul Resnikoff

      It is strange that YouTube goes completely unnoticed here, and in many other discussions. I think there are a few reasons for this. One is that there’s a generational divide: the biggest users of YouTube are typically much younger, just like EDM fans are much younger. It took time for the older, more established generation to frankly even notice.

      But that is only part of the story. Spotify and Pandora actively make noise, they are massaging (yes, I meant ‘massaging’) the media 24/7, they are screaming ‘we are a solution!’ and ‘look at us!’ They are focused on music, and they spend tens of millions to attract new subscribers and users solely based music.

      YouTube doesn’t do that as much when it comes to music. Sure, there’s YouTube Music in development (or whatever it will be called), but YouTube amazingly emerged as the largest destination for music largely under the radar. And part of the reason is that YouTube is such a massive ship, it is often viewed as the blob that includes cat videos and funny baby clips that we just view music as part of that craziness.

      But, interestingly, the minute YouTube drew a ring around its music areas, and decided to create a subscription service, that non-focus shifted to laser-sharp rage (from the indies). It’ll be interesting to see where this goes.


      Reply
  2. Me

    I don’t know what to do here… I own Dirt, Facelift, Jar of Flies, Alice In Chains, and Unplugged – I bought them all on CD back in the 90s . I’m not about to buy something again that I already own. However, I do stream Alice in Chains from time to time on Spotify, so they are still getting a little extra revenue from me playing their songs for free (granted, not a substantial amount, but something nonetheless). Would he prefer I just stop streaming them altogether and him not earn that extra money?

    Also, lol at the radio station DJ asking a musician about people cherry picking songs. That’s precisely what a radio station does! They don’t play the band’s entire catalog! They cherry pick a few singles, and that’s it.


    Reply
  3. Stu

    Some fun maths to be had with this one.

    10m plays at Spotify’s claimed average payout to rightsholders of between $0.006 and $0.0084 would mean between $60,000 and $84,000, split between publisher and label, and then passed on to the five members of Alice in Chains via heaven knows what contractual agreements. Did he co-write the songs?

    If Sean is getting 0.185% (at best) of the streaming payout for plays of his band’s music, wouldn’t that be more a case for looking at the deals they signed, rather than seeing streaming as the rip-off?

    I realise I’m taking his numbers literally, here, which may be my mistake ;)


    Reply
    1. john

      exactly stu!


      Reply
      1. Yep

        Exactly. What an ignorant article. If he is not on top of him numbers then he won’t succeed in the streaming world.

        At a guess his band has about 70 tracks on spotify.

        There top tunes are over 5 mill plays. I’m sure they are reaching 50 mill plays, so that’s about half million dollars, the label have had.

        I noticed that most of the action is around the recording made in the 1990’s. Maybe, the guy is pissed that the new stuff isn’t getting as much traction, or maybe his deal is bad.


        Reply
    2. JTVDigital

      The figures he gives are completely misleading.
      Again, it shows that:
      – there is still a lot of education to be done when it comes to get artists understand how sales, royalties, streams…etc. work
      – the ripoff, if any, is somewhere between the record label and the end of the chain, namely the recording artist.
      Checking some rough sales figures just now (based on a small sample report with thousand lines), 10 million streams on Spotify would equal to approx. 55,000 USD net.
      This is what the label gets if they have a direct deal with Spotify.
      So for 10 million streams, the royalties from the exploitation of the master recordings are approx this amount.
      Add the performance and mechanical royalties to this (from the exploitation of the composition = the Works) and the amount will increase quite significantly.
      So yeah, if he only gets 111 $ from these initial 5-6 figures amounts, he should read again the deals he signed…


      Reply
  4. Anonymous

    10 million plays of a standalone cd/mp3 = $0.


    Reply
    1. Me

      Or radio. Why is he on a medium that doesn’t pay him complaining about those that do? He should be on Spotify complaining about how radio pays him nothing.


      Reply
  5. Anonymous

    Here we go again!!

    When Spotify launched in the UK in 2009 we number crunched the future “scaling” projections and came to the conclusion that the numbers didn’t add up.

    Here we are in 2014 and guess what? – the numbers don’t add up.

    The big question is who are all these innumerate fuckwits who thought it would work?


    Reply
  6. I Can Make Up Numbers Too

    Hey sucks for this guy. I got 1,000 streams on Spotify and a got a million bucks royalty check from them for this.


    Reply
  7. Wein Johnson :p

    I can relate to this situation because it takes a lot of hard work and effort to create and come up with musik, not only that it is stressful at the end to find out that once an artist or band records a new track, album or covers it’ll soon be out everywhere! I mean nothing was free before and now everybody wants everything for freesbies!


    Reply
  8. RG

    I dont think he was dealing in figures..he was exagerating to make a point…and the point is that if music cannot pay the bills then people will stop doing it to that level and it will just end up everyones hobby…and the xfactor….reality show bull will be all you have available.


    Reply
    1. Tony

      It’s not about paying the bills, its about earning many, many millions, like they all used to. In other words, greed. The music industry has resisted the internet from the very beginning. Remember Napster? Sony purchased Napster in order to legitimise music downloads….So why did it take Spotify to properly harness the business opportunity that the internet offered. I’ll tell you why…its because the major music labels (that now own most of the so-called indie labels) tried to strangle the online industry. The arrogance of the record companies knows no boundaries. And then the internet won.

      Spotify are much more consumer driven, they have to give us what we want, because it’s so easy to go elsewhere.. And they are trying to get as many people as possible to pay subscription fees. There is also a huge amount of growth in terms of new customers in the near future….So actually, there is nothing wrong in Spotify at all.

      More artists need to ditch their record labels and go it alone. They need to realise that they are in a business, and it is not good enough to just create a good product. Good product plus no money equals bad business. It does not mean bad Spotify.


      Reply
  9. Anonymous

    He states that gas and instruments haven’t come down in price, but recording has. Without having to pay for tape recording costs aren’t anything like they used to be.


    Reply
    1. steveh

      Don’t be ridiculous!

      Sure some recording costs have come down but others have gone up. Have you tried buying some high end analog outboard gear recently?

      And if you want to record live drums like Sean Kinney certainly does you need a proper studio with proper mice etc You can’t do that in your bedroom.

      It’s amazing how great is the level of ignorance on DMN discussion threads sometimes.


      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        Apologies for my ignorance, I just know that back in the day of tape I couldn’t afford to record an album in a studio, but these days I can.

        It might not be the same high end studio as Alice in Chains use, but I’m sure it is relative.


        Reply
      2. dude

        You don’t *need* expensive outboard gear to get a good sounding recording, plugins are near as makes no difference just as good for a fraction of the cost… you can do some pretty wizard shit with just a few hundred bucks worth of software these days


        Reply
        1. steveh

          how do you record your live drums then, maestro? What mics do you is?


          Reply
          1. Anonymous

            To be honest I have no idea, I leave the mics to the studio engineer.


            Reply
  10. hugenjolly

    Whiney bitch.


    Reply
  11. Tony

    The music industry happily ripped off consumers for decades in the past and now we the consumer have democracy at last. When I was a kid every single had about 10 or more versions, the 7 inch, 12 inch, 7 inch picture disc and so on….And the bands did F*** all to stop it. But they were happy to cash the checks. And parents throughout the land dipped ever deeper into their pockets.

    In the UK in the 80’s a CD cost 75pence to make and sold for 15 pounds….and the record companies and the artists gave us the finger when we complained.

    Artists get millions of pounds/euros/dollars worth of free advertising from the exposure of being played on radio stations all over the world, as well as reviews in magazines and interviews on TV and radio….what other industry offers such exposure for free.

    Singers/bands/songeriters have such an obscene sense of entitlement when it comes to money….

    There is nothing stopping singers, songwriters and bands from selling from their own websites. Building up a following on your own website, like bloggers do…..but that takes commitment and time…and bands want instant cash now.

    Hey guys…welcome to the real world.


    Reply
    1. steveh

      The person with an obscene sense of entitlement is you Tony.

      And by the way your example of 75pence to make a CD ignores all the recording costs and promotional costs. Do you seriously think that recording and marketing an album costs nothing?


      Reply
    2. Patrik

      “When I was a kid every single had about 10 or more versions, the 7 inch, 12 inch, 7 inch picture disc and so on….And the bands did F*** all to stop it. But they were happy to cash the checks. And parents throughout the land dipped ever deeper into their pockets.”

      So, going by your word here, you felt that you *had* to have every version of a given single? And the picture disc?! What decade are you talking about? And, unbelievably, you admit that your *parents* bought these items for you, because you *had* to have them… and you’re calling musicians entitled?

      Astounding.

      “In the UK in the 80′s a CD cost 75pence to make and sold for 15 pounds….and the record companies and the artists gave us the finger when we complained.”

      You can’t actually be this dense and be old enough to have lived through the ’80s. You do understand that pressing the CD isn’t the only cost in producing an album, right? Studios had to be booked, engineers paid, graphic designers, the marketing, etc., etc. Musicians had to eat. Songwriters, too. All these things were not, and still aren’t free. Besides that, the record store you bought these things from had to make a profit on each unit, too (not to mention the distributors, the trucking companies that actually moved the units, the drivers, etc.). You have to understand all this if you’re actually around 40-years-old. How do you earn your living?

      “Artists get millions of pounds/euros/dollars worth of free advertising from the exposure of being played on radio stations all over the world…”

      Oh, I didn’t realize those radio stations were operating at a loss, and weren’t selling the audience they attract because of the music they play to advertisers. They’re a labor of love, eh? Not a multi-million (billion?) dollar industry.

      Again, I feel like you’re confused about what year it is. When was the last time radio “exposed” anything? ClearChannel and the advertising types that run the radio stations only play music that’s already popular. Their entire MO is to attract a specific demographic to sell to their advertisers. Playing new, untested (un-focus grouped) music is a terrible way to do that; no advertiser is going to fund those flights of fancy. How would they know what demographic block they’re purchasing?

      “as well as reviews in magazines and interviews on TV and radio….what other industry offers such exposure for free.”

      First of all, almost every industry had their products reviewed in magazines in the past, and on websites today.

      Talk show guests run the gamut from authors to politicians to entrepreneurs to restauranteurs to kids with funny voices to pets who perform “stupid” tricks… so again, ALL industries.

      You seem unaware as to how these entities make their money. TV shows invite musicians on to attract that artist’s audience to watch, so they can sell those eyeballs to advertisers. That’s why these productions pay the musicians who appear on the shows.

      Breaking artists would be a terrible model for any of these industries; the margins of profit are already too razor thin to attempt something so risky. That’s what record labels, traditionally, were for. They took the risk on breaking new acts.

      “Singers/bands/songeriters have such an obscene sense of entitlement when it comes to money…”

      Obscene? Remember, you’re the guy who demanded that mommy and daddy buy every pressing and import version of “every single.” It’s the consumers who demand every song ever, whenever they want it, for as low a price as they can think of. Musicians, from my perspective in the trenches with them every day, would mostly like to eat. The vast majority of them don’t even expect that they’ll ever be able to quit their day job. But a return on the substantial investments they make to present a viable product to consumers would be nice. If that’s entitlement, then everyone with a second job or running their own business on the side is entitled. Scratch that; EVERYONE providing services or working a job is “entitled.”

      Why is “entitle” even a bad word? Is this the result of some Fox News meme? ANYONE rendering services to an employer or client is damn well “entitled” to the remunerations that the interested parties agreed to, and we’d be remiss as a society to forget this. How is this even a topic of discussion over a hundred years after the labor movements?

      “There is nothing stopping singers, songwriters and bands from selling from their own websites.”

      And there was never anything stopping artists from selling records out of the trunk of their car. Many, many did just that. I did, and made more money than I do flogging sales online today. Self-released DIY has been significant since the ’80s, at least. It’s nothing new, and isn’t a solution to much of anything except how to take the very first baby step into a music career. Here’s a secret, traditionally labels didn’t even look in the direction of an artist who wasn’t already amassing their own audience and selling their own music. This has been true since the ’60s, at least. The vast majority of successful music careers started as independent businesses. Artists at the time often preferred to sign with labels, as they do now. Instead of dismissing an entire sector of the economy as morons, maybe you should question your biases and consider that maybe people do what they think is best for their business, and probably know more about it than you do.

      “Building up a following on your own website, like bloggers do…”

      Last time I checked, setting up a blog costs basically nothing upfront. This response I’m typing could be turned into a blog at my site in a matter of minutes, with no further cost beyond my time. Also, exactly zero of the bloggers I know (and I know a lot here in Brooklyn) earn anything substantial from their relatively popular blogs. The overhead of running one is miniscule compared to trying to launch a music career. The revenue model (ad-based) is completely different. The comparison is laughable. Bloggers aren’t even performers. This is like comparing apples to notebook paper. I can’t even eat both of these things.

      “..but that takes commitment and time…”

      Oh come on now. You think someone who has mastered an instrument and honed their performance to the degree that they can get onstage in front of strangers and command their attention ISN’T committed and HASN’T put in a lot of time?! You are actually suggesting this, no?

      “Hey guys…welcome to the real world.”

      Says the guy who is still angry about CD prices from the ’80s, and who still believes that there are music magazines, and that bands appear in any significant amount on television in this day and age thirty years after MTV’s heyday.


      Reply
  12. BlueCollar

    “Try to break even, or maybe make a little bit to make a living on tour.” – Hello, this is how it works for most people: work every day, get paid. No work today – no pay. This is how it worked for artists too in Shakespearean times – they toured and were paid for live performances. Why it should be different now I don’t know. Somehow the fact that their music can be recorded and stored makes them better than regular folk.

    The above does not mean that streaming companies who build their BUSINESS on other’s product can get it virtually free. If you charge for other’s product then you have to pay to producer, this is only fair.


    Reply
  13. BlueCollar

    “Try to break even, or maybe make a little bit to make a living on tour.” – Hello, this is how it works for most people: work every day, get paid. No work today – no pay. This is how it worked for artists too in Shakespearean times – they toured and were paid for live performances. Why it should be different now I don’t know. Somehow the fact that their music can be recorded and stored makes them better than regular folk.

    The above does not mean that streaming companies who build their BUSINESS on other’s product can get it virtually free. If you charge for other’s product then you have to pay to producer, this is only fair.


    Reply
  14. Sonic Rip-Pin

    The only solution to getting ripped off by these companies stealing from all of us musicians is to take our music off line and start our own websites and sell our music ourselfs that’s the only way to take back the money being taken from us from these companies that do nothing for the artists…… Start your own private websites and stop using YouTube, Spotify ,facebook ,pandora and all the rest of them ! Cut the head off the SNAKES!!!!!


    Reply
  15. Bill

    I find it interesting the artist have not recognised it has been the music companies who have been steeling from them all these years. If you look at any other business models they do not have anywhere the profit built in it as they do. If the artist bypassed the music companies and brought their product to market them selves and utilized digital distrobution they would realize the reimburcment for their efforts and the consumer would be willing to pay the necessary price. I have downloaded music since it was downloadable and have always purchased the music I like. I admit this is not always the case but if the price of the product was not so inflated more people would purchase it.

    Bill


    Reply
  16. jw

    I can’t help but wonder if a lot of what Sean Kinney is dealing with isn’t so much CDs vs streaming, it has to do with being a charting artist with a lead singer vs being a reunited nostalgia act with a replacement singer.

    I would bet that most people streaming their music on Spotify either already own the classic records or they made a decision long ago on whether or not they were going to buy them. I mean, the interview is with a classic rock station… there is no mtv, there is no alternative rock radio… there’s no system in place for a band like Alice In Chains to have a hit song, the way there was in ’90s, least of all with a lead singer that isn’t Layne Staley. And it’s not like a significant number of people are just now discovering Man In a Box.

    If he thought that they could just get the band back together after a fatal drug overdose & a 13 year hiatus, & that they could just pick up where they left off, he was mistaken, & that’s not Spotify’s fault.


    Reply
  17. welcome to hell

    A pathetic society that values a mediocre coffee more than a music album.

    This is United States 2014.


    Reply
  18. PC

    I really would like to see a follow-up to this kind of article that gathers all of the facts and shows the actual distribution. Numbers have been shown of what Pandora and Spotify should be paying based off of default licensing which seems like a decent amount of money monthly. Who is keeping more than their fare share along the path to the musician being paid.

    Everyone in the chain of accounting is entitled to be paid for their efforts so SoundExchange, labels, management and artist but I fail to understand how a $50K payment from Spotify could end up being only a couple of hundred for the artist.

    Artists and their management need to become more involved in their digital rights and revenue or they will be taken advantage of by older pre-digital agreements. Better yet if you own your music or the label try to cut out some of the the middlemen and sign direct deals with the larger audio services.


    Reply

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