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Blue Music Group: “Spotify’s Pitiful Rates Are Killing All Chances of Producing New, Fruitful Music”

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This morning, independent jazz and classical label Blue Music Group made the decision to pull their entire catalog from Spotify, while re-doubling their focus on download stores and Bandcamp.

Here’s a statement from the label founder Mika Pohjola.

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Having our catalog available at Spotify’s pitiful rates – and we’re talking about fractions of cents per streamed song – kills all chances to produce new fruitful music.  Blue Music Group is keen to pay its artists fairly, we have one of the highest royalty rates in the industry. We rely on people buying our downloads from Apple iTunes, Amazon or Bandcamp.

These vendors, especially Bandcamp, gives a straight-forward deal on downloads, and they understand musicians need to get paid.

Blue Music Group launched its catalog originally on Spotify shortly after Spotify opened in October 2008.  During our nearly six years of cooperation, Blue Music Group has had considerable success with its 2006 release Swedish Traditional Songs by vocalist Johanna Grüssner from the Åland Islands.  The total streams count to approximately one million.

Although we’ve been fairly successful with some albums, it’s a question of fair play for all artists.  Most artists suffer from Spotify eating up their download sales.  Maybe in the future, when the deal is fair toward artists and producers, we can consider Spotify and other streaming services again.

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Pictured: Caravaggio, The Sacrifice of Isaac (1601-02). Oil on canvas.

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Comments (27)
  1. Anonymous

    ” Most artists suffer from Spotify eating up their download sales.”

    Amazing how a service that–according to DMN earlier this year–makes up roughly 2.8% of total music streams can hurt “most artists”. http://www.digitalmusicnews.com/permalink/2014/02/13/youtubepandoracontrol

    The total misunderstanding of the problem here will continue to hurt the music industry. The problem is that everybody has always-connected, portable internet devices that come pre-installed with (100% free) Youtube. The problem is that when you are always connected, streaming becomes infinitely more efficient than downloading to limited harddrive space (and having to deal with file management). The music industry will NEVER be able to successfully fight these technological changes, and these changes have nothing to do with Spotify or any other streaming music service. The ubiquitous internet killed the download sale, not any music service company.


    Reply
    1. free? you said so!

      YouTube is not free. You, the user, you are the product for sale to agencies like NSA, MI6 e.t.c.


      Reply
      1. Anonymous

        This is not exclusive to Youtube, and does not contribute to this topic.


        Reply
    2. Anonymous

      This may be the most salient comment I’ve ever read on DMN.


      Reply
    3. David

      The ‘limited hard drive’ issue is something of a red herring. The cost of data storage has fallen enormously, roughly in line with the cost of bandwidth. The cost of storing a file locally is of the same order of magnitude as the cost of streaming the same data. It is inherently more efficient to store and access data locally for any file that you are likely to access repeatedly. Spotify themselves recognise this by caching tracks on your hard drive when you stream them for the first time (up to a certain proportion of available space). When you play them again you are not actually streaming at all!
      The real advantage of streaming is not in cost but in convenience. It is easier to go to a single comprehensive source of data than to hunt around for it in your own haphazardly accumulated stores of data, especially if you use several devices and don’t systematically transfer data from old devices to new ones. It is the reason why most people use Wikipedia – not because it is the best or most reliable source of information, which it certainly isn’t, but because it is a convenient one-stop-shop.


      Reply
  2. Kyle Williams

    If there was some kind of lead generation funnel that could be had from streaming services then artists I think would benefit from streaming if they have some kind of email marketing in place.


    Reply
    1. Paul Resnikoff

      Benji Rogers over at PledgeMusic is one person thinking about this sort of thing. So many artist fans are coming to Spotify to listen, and would gladly give more if only they were approached.

      Actually, I just got a call from an artist that experienced a huge surge in listening on Spotify, but had no idea where the surge was coming from. I couldn’t really help, because it could be anything — even a promotion on Spotify itself. He was totally in the dark; and he had no way of interacting with (much less capturing data from) his new fans.


      Reply
      1. john

        his music probably was added to some of their thematic playlists.


        Reply
      2. Hugo Burnham

        “He was totally in the dark; and he had no way of interacting with (much less capturing data from) his new fans.”

        Paul….do you know about Stagebloc?


        Reply
  3. Hard

    We are winning on Spotify. I have a team of 6 people (compilers, label reps, graphic designers) who’s SINGLE task in the last 6 months has been to make my labels catalogue WORK on Spotify.

    Let me tell you it is VERY difficult to make high revenue on Spotify, but it IS possible.

    We are now making over 500% more rev compared to the same period in 2013. We need to get this to 1000% to make it work.

    It is VERY difficult, but we won’t quit. We owe it to our staff and artists.

    Downloads are dying.


    Reply
    1. Paul Resnikoff

      It would be really interesting to see some actual numbers. The reason I say this is that we only receive actual numbers from artists that are making horribly low royalties on Spotify, and we never receive anything from successful artists. Not once.

      I, like many readers of DMN, have become extremely skeptical of various counter-claims and ‘success stories,’ I think for good reason.


      Reply
      1. GGG

        You should make a note to follow up with this guy in a year, to see if sales/income has gone back up. You should also reach out to Thom Yorke to see how things have changed since he took off Eraser.

        My pro streaming stance isn’t because I think streaming is better than downloads, it’s because the entire tech culture is moving to cloud/streaming. I think the simple idea of buying digital files is becoming less and less attractive to people. We can blame it on whatever we want, but it’s happening.


        Reply
      2. GGG

        By this guy I meant the Mike Pohjola, not the commenter.


        Reply
        1. Hard

          In the food chain artists are always last to receive the cash. So, you’ll will be receiving emails from them moaning about the revenue, but these sales occurred during Q1/Q2 2014? Ok, here’s my prediction…

          You will start to receive positive artist/Spotify email during Q4 and Q1 2015.

          My advice to you is, be ahead of the curve on here and run positive streaming stories now.


          Reply
          1. steveh

            as Paul says:- please show us your numbers.


            Reply
            1. Hard

              I’m not going to publish my numbers on the internet, am I!? Not only are we completely on top of spotify, we are good at business…and do not arm the completion with commercially sensitive data.


              Reply
              1. Paul Resnikoff

                ugh-huh


                Reply
              2. steveh

                Hard – you’ve gone all soft….

                Look’s like you prematurely ejaculated.

                Without any numbers, fella, no-one here is going to believe one word you say.


                Reply
              3. hippydog

                Quote “I’m not going to publish my numbers on the internet, am I!? Not only are we completely on top of spotify, we are good at business…and do not arm the completion with commercially sensitive data.”

                because why? are you afraid your competition will what? talk about you?.. make fun of you?
                I dont get it..


                Reply
  4. john

    good luck with that shit, enjoy having everything on youtube still and turning down free money.


    Reply
  5. john

    Spotifys revenue growth to artists (not per stream but in real dollar terms, assuming your band grows/gets streams) is unreal, iTunes wishes it could show this kind of stuff.


    Reply
    1. Hard

      Unreal. Yes, you get it! The streaming revolution has been predicted since 2012. It’s happening right now.


      Reply
      1. john

        spotify paid my rent last month how the fuck can i poopoo that.


        Reply
  6. Willis

    Short-sighted, small-picture view. There are many other outlets for distribution and revenue.


    Reply
  7. David

    As I’ve pointed out before, the present pricing models for streaming are problematic for niche artists or genres like jazz, folk, or early music. They just don’t attract enough casual listeners to be viable at current payout rates.

    BTW it is interesting that Pohjola cites a Swedish example, and Pohjola himself is presumably Finnish. I thought the Scandis were all gung-ho for streaming!


    Reply
    1. hippydog

      Quote “As I’ve pointed out before, the present pricing models for streaming are problematic for niche artists or genres like jazz, folk, or early music. They just don’t attract enough casual listeners to be viable at current payout rates.”

      your basing this on????

      I would predict it has very little to do with the “pricing model”
      and more to do with the emerging format
      IE: Its the younger demographic that is adopting streaming first..
      when more ‘over 40′ consumers start adopting this technology, the numbers should increase..


      Reply
  8. FarePlay

    Collateral damage. The days of going into a professional studio that charges $250 an hour are over for most bands. Springsteen spent nearly a year working in a studio on the songs that would become Born to Run. His manager mortgaged his house to keep the recording sessions going. The sax solo on Jungleland took weeks to record, one note at a time.

    Today, most music is recorded in a good enough environment.


    Reply

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