The Music Industry Has 99 Problems. And They Are…

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1. The music recording is failing.  Across the board, artists are experiencing serious problems monetizing their audio releases.

2. Recording revenues have been declining for more than 10 years, and they continue to decline precipitously year-over-year.  This has dismantled the label system, once the most reliable form of artist financing.

3. Digital formats continue to grow, but not enough to overcome broader declines in physical CDs.

4. Even worse, the evolution of formats keeps pushing the value of the recording downward.  Streaming pays less than downloads; downloads paid less than CDs.  And the next thing after streaming will probably be even worse.

5. There is little evidence to suggest that this downfall is being made up by touring, merchandising, or other non-recording activities.

6. Streaming is rapidly becoming the dominant form of music consumption.  It also pays artists the worst of any formats before it.

7. Post-album, artists and labels have failed to establish a lucrative, reliable bundle to monetize their recordings.


8. Most consumers now attribute very little value to the recording itself, and most consumption (through YouTube, ad-supported piracy, or BitTorrent) happens at little-to-zero cost to the listener.

9. A generally uncertain economic climate only adds to consumer resistance against paying for music.

10. A massive, decades-long shift towards free (or near-free) music means that entire generations have never paid anything for recordings.  And will continue to resist any requirements to pay for music.


11. Streaming has largely failed artists and independent labels.

12. The leading streaming music companies — YouTube/Google, Spotify, and Soundcloud — are also the most duplicitous and damaging towards artists.

13. Streaming services like Spotify offer very little transparency on their payout structures, which makes it a low-trust partner for artists.

14. Even worse, Spotify is suspected of completely misrepresenting its per-stream payout structure, based on discrepancies with extremely low rates publicly published by actual artists (usually on Digital Music News, here, here, and here.)

15. Indies and smaller artists also complain that their rates are lower than bigger, major labels.  Some have pointed to different tiers of compensation, though few have a concrete idea on exactly how payouts are structured (see #13).

16. Payouts to artists are not only hard to figure out, they are almost universally low and cannibalistic towards other, more lucrative formats.  Which is why artists like Rihanna and Taylor Swift have opted not to license Spotify.  And why Taylor Swift’s label, Big Machine Records, has indicated that no future, frontline releases will be licensed to Spotify.

17. Spotify actually pays the labels, often with huge, multi-million dollar advances and/or equity positions attached.  But labels frequently don’t pay their artists, either for legitimate (ie, the artist is unrecouped) or illegitimate (ie, they’re screwing the artist) reasons.

18. The priorities of streaming services like Spotify skew towards acquisitions, IPOs, and other liquidation events, not towards the interests of content holders and artists.  And if you doubt that, just ask Goldman Sachs (a $50 million-plus Spotify investor). Which means artist payout issues may improve somewhat, but probably not dramatically.

19. Even worse, the interests of the major labels are very similar, which explains the massive percentage shares awarded to major labels by streaming services.  These percentages are awarded in exchange for content licensing (just recently, Universal Music Group received $404 million from the sale of Beats).

(And why major labels are pushing for a Spotify sale north of $10 billion…)

20.  Even worse than than, labels pay nothing from these cash-out windfalls to their artists, based on artist contract terms that have now been published (on Digital Music News).

+Here’s Another Way That Artists Get Screwed Out of Their Streaming Royalties…

21. Google, the most influential company in the music industry, is actively resisting any efforts to reduce piracy across its key platforms, Search and YouTube.

22.  Google is also working against the interests of indie labels, and has recently used its market power to force unfavorable licensing terms upon them.

+F*&K It: Here’s the Entire YouTube Contract for Indies…

23. Streaming has caused piracy to wane, though free MP3 and torrent sites remain a serious problem for many rights owners.

24. The number of people actually paying for streaming services remains relatively low, especially when compared to the broader population of music fans.  Part of the problem is that music fans are often extremely reluctant to upgrade from free, ad-supported, or carrier-bundled services.

+Exclusive: Spotify Crosses 11 Million Paying Subscribers…

25. Downloads remain a more lucrative purchase for artists (and labels), despite rhetoric indicating otherwise.  Sorry, most fans aren’t streaming songs thousands of times, even on their favorite tracks.

26. It’s harder than ever for a newer artist to get noticed.

27. The artist has greater and more direct access to fans than ever before in history.  Unfortunately, so do millions of other artists.

28. Indeed, the typical music fan is flooded with music, not to mention videos, games, ebooks, and porn, all of which makes it extremely difficult to win and retain the attention of future fans.

29. This also puts pressure on the artist to shorten the release cycle, and pump out content at a quick pace.

30. The artist currently lacks a centralized hub online that is a default for music fans, thanks to the erosion of MySpace Music.  Facebook was once viewed as a replacement for MySpace Music, until the major shift to Timeline.

31. Even worse, Facebook is now charging artists to reach their own fans, a move it defends as necessary given massive increases in Facebook posts that are overwhelming users.

+An Artist Asks Facebook: “Why Do I Have to Pay to Reach My Fans?”

32. All of which sort of makes the Facebook ‘Like’ a necessary win, but a difficult victory to celebrate.

33. 99.9% of all artists cannot make a living wage off of their music, based on stats gleaned from TuneCore.

34. In fact, David Lowery, a top thinker in the space and an artist himself, feels that artists are worse off now than they were in the analog era.  And, he points to lower payments, less control, a shift in revenue towards tech companies, and less secure copyright protections to prove his case.

35. Most artists are overwhelmed with tasks that go far beyond making music.  That includes everything from Tweeting fans, updating Facebook pages, managing metadata, uploading content, interpreting data, managing Kickstarter campaigns, and figuring out online sales strategies.

36. The average musician is underemployed.  According to a musician survey conducted by the Future of Music Coalition (FMC), just 42 percent of musicians are working full-time in music.   The rest are complementing their music with day jobs that have little or nothing to do with music.

37. Musician salaries are low.  Also according to the FMC survey, the average musician makes $34,455 a year from music-specific gigs, with overall incomes (music+non-music) averaging $55,561.

38. Musicians are increasingly playing free shows, in the hopes of getting paid work down the line.  According to a recently-released report from the UK-based Musicians’ Union, more than 60 percent of artists have played at least one free gig in the last year.

39. Even monstrously-large video superstars like OK Go can have trouble generating significant revenue (based on their own admission).  And, big sponsors like State Farm can only attach themselves to so many videos.

40. Artists live under the constant threat of leaks, especially popular artists.  And the worst result is the leak of an unreleased, half-baked recording, an issue recently experienced by both Skrillex and Ryan Leslie.

41. Information overload and massive media fragmentation have made it very difficult for music fans to even notice releases exist — even if they are dedicated fans.


42. Crowdsourcing worked for Amanda Palmer, though there are serious questions about whether it can work systematically for smaller artists who have never been signed to a major label or experienced significant financial support in the past.


43. Vinyl LPs are surging year-over-year, but still represent a tiny fraction of recordings purchased.

44. The production infrastructure around vinyl continues to ramp up slowly, and producing vinyl can be incredibly difficult.  Some facilities are expanding, though production delays are often the norm and hurting this market’s growth.

45. Vinyl is bad for the environment.  That also goes for other revenue-generators like t-shirts and merchandise.

46. Actually, so is digital: some environmentalists theorize that the digital transition may actually be more damaging to our Earth than physical.  Part of the reason is that cloud-hosting requires massive server facilities while consuming massive amounts of energy and pumping out lots of waste.

47. On top of that, digital formats only coexist alongside physical devices like iPads, iPhones, laptops, and sophisticated headphones, all of which gets thrown away and replaced after a few years (or shorter).


48. Traditional record stores have largely imploded, with holdouts like Amoeba now relics of an earlier era.  

49. Record Store Day has helped stem the decline among smaller record stores, though many complain that major labels are now flooding RSD stores with crappy products.  Others regard RSD as a mere band-aid against the inevitable.

50. Either way, the biggest releases always go to the biggest brick-n-mortar stores: Target, Best Buy, or Wal-Mart.

51. Yet these larger, ‘big box’ retailers are accelerating the downward spiral in CD sales, both by dramatically reducing shelf space and by pushing pricing aggressively downwards (often to $5 or less).  This is happening even though older demographics are often still receptive to the format.


52. Major labels, once the most reliable form of financing for new and established artists, are now a fraction of their former selves.

53. And thanks to heavy financial pressures, the creative process at major labels has become increasingly formulaic, overly refined, and often unsatisfying to the artists involved.

54. A large number of legacy artists are now suing their major labels, arguing that downloads should be classified as ‘licenses’ instead of ‘sales’.  And, thanks to a monumental victory by F.B.T. Productions, this shift will create a massive financial obligation for labels.

55. Most people who work at major labels have very low job security.  Which makes it difficult for them to develop longer-term artist careers, not to mention those of the artists they represent.

56. Younger people are not generally not interested in working at labels anymore, which makes it harder for those companies to innovate.

57. Instead of enjoying some theoretical resurgence, indie labels are mostly getting squeezed by devalued and declining recordings, piracy, and far greater leverage from artists themselves.

58. A once-promising shift towards 360-degree models never quite generated enough money for major labels, even though major labels generally insist on broader rights deals with all new artists.

59. Established music companies often overpay their executives by a wild margin, despite massive and ongoing losses.  That may have the effect of skewing the executive focus towards personal enrichment, while sending red flags to investors.  Glaring examples of this include Warner Music Group, Live Nation, and Pandora, among others.  The RIAA also suffers from this convoluted compensation problem.


60. Very little innovation now comes from inside the industry.  Instead, it is now dictated by non-industry players like Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram.

61.  A broader ‘brain drain’ in the music industry, across both traditional and technology sides, has dampened innovation in the space.


62. A large percentage of live music fans are frustrated with high ticket prices at concerts, and gouging on in-venue items like beer.

63. All of which means that fans now regard live concerts as a one-off, infrequent ‘event,’ instead of a regular outing.  In fact, the average consumer goes to just 1.5 shows a year (per Live Nation Entertainment).

64. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, touring is actually extremely difficult and expensive for most artists.  Even for more established artists like Imogen Heap, who stopped touring despite solid crowds.

65. And, the secondary ticketing market is often fed before the actual market, thanks to bots, aggressive scalpers, or the artists and ticketing providers themselves.

66. Fans frequently miss shows from their favorite artists, even when these artists roll into their hometowns.

67. But wait: despite an on-rush of apps and services like Songkick and Bandsintown, attendance at shows hasn’t really increased that much.

68. And, attempts to monetize live streams (or previously-recorded gigs) remains a speculative bet that has yet to pay off.

69. Meanwhile, service fees continue to outrage fans, even though artist guarantees and advances are often a culprit (but it’s complicated…)

70. Classical orchestras and ensembles continue to struggle, thanks to a continuing problem invigorating younger audiences.   That has forced lots of smaller-market orchestras to downsize or discontinue, while applying plenty of pressure to bigger-city orchestras as well.

71. Merch table CDs, once a very solid source of on-the-road revenue for developing bands, has now evaporated.


72. Traditional radio tends to play the same 14 songs in heavy rotation, with mind-numbing regularity and lots of commercials.

73. And, this repetitive playlist is often cloned throughout the United States, thanks to formatting homogeneity and heavy ownership consolidation.

74. Even worse, a lot of listeners don’t seem to mind.  Which means very little music actually gets into rotation and discovery becomes harder.

75. Traditional radio doesn’t pay for the performance of recordings.  And, if they’re ever forced to, they’ll probably play fewer songs, or sign more direct deals with labels like Big Machine Records.


76. Internet radio has failed artists and publishers.

77. Songwriters are increasingly getting screwed by digital formats, including internet radio.  In one disclosure, songwriter Desmond Child reported more than 6 million plays on Pandora for “Livin’ On a Prayer,” only to receive a check for $110.  Ellen Shipley, a songwriter whose biggest hit was “Heaven Is a Place on Earth,” received $39 for more than 3.1 million plays.

78. Yet Pandora, the largest internet radio provider, still can’t make a consistent profit.

79. But that hasn’t stopped Pandora executives like Tim Westergren from cashing in tens of millions in stock.

80. Meanwhile, Pandora has burned the IPO prospects of companies like Spotify, thanks to endless profitability problems and massive executive cashouts.

81. And, Pandora still can’t effectively license in most countries outside of the US.  Most notably, that includes the UK (though the company recently found a way to enter Australia and New Zealand).

82. But this isn’t just Pandora’s problem., for example, was forced to severely curtail their internet radio services based on licensing costs.

83. All of which is why in the US, Pandora is asking Congress to lower the royalties it pays to labels (via SoundExchange).  But artists already feel like they’re getting screwed, which is why they now hate Pandora.

84.  Meanwhile, the royalties that are being paid to SoundExchange often end up in massive, unpaid piles.  That is, hundreds-of-millions-large piles of unpaid collections.  Which of course, SoundExchange doesn’t like to talk about but collects interest on.

85. A good music education is now a difficult, risky investment.

86. And the costs are becoming exorbitant: conservatories and music schools now charge exorbitant amounts for their programs, though post-graduation job and income prospects are generally dim.

87. Music fans have access to more music than ever, but are often completely overwhelmed.  This often results is less interest in music that isn’t heavily promoted, already established, or somehow ‘viral’.

88. The Long Tail was mostly a fantasy, and so is the concept that great music naturally finds its audience.  Buried gems remain buried in the digital era, while the most successful artists still seem to be those with the best backing and money.

89. Music conferences are often expensive, both in terms of time and money.

90. There are also too many of them.  Which is why music conferences frequently repeat the same information, over and over again.

91. Music conferences are sometimes held in far away, difficult-to-reach places, and last for days.  Which also means that music conferences can be giant distractions from work that needs to get done back at your office.


92. Non-stop, on-the-go music listening could be killing the ears of an entire generation.

93. The world has progressed past the white earbud.  The only problem is that lots of users are blasting headphones non-stop, with little regard for near-certain ear damage ahead.  Which is why numerous reports continue to ring the alarm on future hearing loss.


94. Piracy didn’t go away.  It merely wears a new disguise.

95. The DMCA, once considered a reasonable method for flagging and removing infringing content while protecting online companies from liability, has now become an unmanageable and dysfunctional process for most content owners.

96. Even worse, the DMCA has become a highly-profitable, aggressive, and artist-unfriendly loophole for companies like Grooveshark.

97. Yet Google also remains a huge part of the problem.  Searching for torrents and pirated material is not only easy, it’s frequently auto-completed for the user in Google’s searchbox.  Or, worse, delivered in email as part of a Google Alert.

98. The RIAA, a group with only limited success fighting piracy and more powerful tech, radio, and other lobbies, remains a questionable luxury for major labels.  In fact, top RIAA executives like CEO Cary Sherman are still somehow pulling multi-million dollar salaries from their major label constituents, despite questionable effectiveness.

99. The RIAA has also burned endless amounts of money chasing defendants like Jammie Thomas, who was initially fined millions for downloading 24 songs to the Supreme Court.  That case lasted for more than 7 years after endless challenges, with a near-zero impact on file-sharing and piracy levels.  In fact, a lot of that stuff simply doesn’t matter anymore.

Image: ‘Korean Train Wreck‘ by Don O’Brien, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).


136 Responses

  1. eva braun

    problem #100: to less blacks and gays in the music companies :)

    • Anonymous


      Avoid worthless spammers like you without compromising free speech.

      • TuneHunter

        I will take advantage of this inappropriate comment.


        Next day Radio and streaming can convert to gigantic $100B music store.

        YouTube as a central hub and a wholesaler can have 50% of this pie – I hope Google will convert from religion of ads to era of direct monetization, I hope $50B dollar carrot will give us sanity and key to new music industry.
        GOOGLE IS THE KEY – let’s be fair to own greed and musicians.

        • Deetahmusic

          Do you work for google? If not why would you say something like that? As if Google was a public company

    • JohnsTheLastWord

      Eva, please take your non-topic comments to a forum that is on your topic. I for one and I know many others are sick and fucking tired of the constant banging of the drum and inserting your topic of concern into ANY TOPIC weather it happens to pertain to it or not. MOST people do not, for instance go to an article talking about the problems of GMO’s and state their status of liking to have sex with others of the opposite sex. IT DOES NOT PERTAIN to the topic, and others reading it would think it is just think ” WTF does that have to do with what we are talking about?”. Please take your soap box and go to a more appropriate conversation.

      • Anonymous

        Dude, it’s a novelty account and a troll, just ignore it. Eva Braun was hitlers girlfriend, theres nothing serious about that comment.

  2. Anonymous

    We all know the problems — but how do we solve them?

    Suggestion for your next headline:

    3 Easy Ways To Solve The Music Industry’s Problems

    1) Encourage your local politicians to stop the theft of all types of Intellectual Property. Not for the sake of artists, but because IP-theft is the biggest threat to global economy today.

    2) Encourage artists never to stream their music during the first week after release.

    3) Encourage artists never to use streaming services such as YouTube Music Key that force rights holders to make their entire catalogs available on the service for free on release day. Use new streaming sites like instead.

    • Adam

      Indeed. How do we solve them?

      I read a lot of whining here on this site but no one has yet to come up with a working solution (no TuneHunter, you’re just rambling). Until then you’re stuck with what you have.

      • Anonymous

        “Indeed. How do we solve them?”

        I think you should consider 3 suggestions mentioned above.

        They address the three primary problems we face right now: Piracy, streaming, YouTube Music Key.

        • GGG

          Your number 2 is not as black and white as you think it is, especially in regard to size of band. The root of that problem is how much music is constantly being released. Whether you think it’s bad or not, whether you think it hurts financially or not, is all pretty irrelevant. For most bands, it’s not even about finances anymore, it’s about opening up even just a sliver of access to more people.

          • Anonymous

            GGG, most artists sell the vast majority of their DLs during release week.

            That’s why it is so important to follow two simple rules if you want to make money:

            1) Don’t stream during release week
            2) Use a good anti-piracy service during release week

            Nobody makes any money from one week’s streaming, so there’s nothing to lose but everything to gain by keeping your work off streaming in the first critical days.

          • GGG

            See, your problem, and what I’d put as a top ten problem for the industry, is that people like you think what works for Beyonce will work for Joe Shmoe’s Random Band. And what works for them will work for every other DIY artist, regardless of genre. And what works for any DIY artist would certainly work for any bigger indie. And on and on. And it’s just not the case.

            For example, sure, most artists sell the majority of their DLs first week….if anyone knows/cares who the fuck they are. If not, which is most bands, then if you hit at all it will most likely be later than the first week. Was Lorde’s biggest EP sale week the week it was released? I highly doubt it because nobody knew who she was. Her LP? Probably because by then Royals was a smash. Not to mention, most bands sell shit anyway. What’s better; allowing an infinite amount of people to hear your music or having $100 more and feeling good about sticking it to the man?

          • Anonymous

            “sure, most artists sell the majority of their DLs first week….if anyone knows/cares who the fuck they are. If not, which is most bands

            You don’t solve any of the industry’s primary problems by discussing artists nobody knows or cares about.

            If nobody knows you, or nobody cares about you, then you should work on that.

            The industry’s primary problems are that consumers don’t pay the artists they know, love and care about.

            The reasons they don’t that are piracy and streaming — and you can find the solutions to both in my previous comment above.

          • GGG

            Ok, so we should only care about acts after they are already big enough to make plenty of money from sticking their face on shit. Gotcha.

          • Anonymous

            Well, I just don’t know why we should care about a band nobody else cares about.

            Again, the problem is that consumers don’t pay artists they do care about — and I’ve listed 3 ways to solve that problem.

          • GGG

            Because in your myopic view of the industry, a band people care about is one that’s on Top 40 radio. You lack the fundamental understanding that there’s plenty of acts that play to anywhere from 100-5k people at shows that are, comparatively to Top 40 acts, complete nobodies.

          • Anonymous

            No, I’m concerned about any decent act.

            And most of them will benefit from my 3 propositions.

          • GGG

            Concerned, sure. Have any clue how shit works these days for non-superstar performers? Don’t think so.

          • Anonymous

            Yeah I do — and I know there are many way to skin a cat.

            In fact, there are as many as there are acts/cats, (funny acronym, btw, haha). It has to be that way now. Everybody has to invent her own way.

            But that doesn’t mean you can’t say a few things in general.

            And I dare you to show me any act that’ll lose a single cent from 1 week’s windowing.

            It may sound like a minor detail to you, but staying away from streaming during release week can make a huge difference to many cats. :)

          • GGG

            Well, no shit, I never said otherwise. In fact, I’ve defended windowing for levels of acts on this site numerous times. But you’re just ignoring a huge number of bands because again, you really don’t know what goes on outside the writing room.

            On that note, I’ve got a show to go to so you’ll have to argue with someone else.

  3. Anonymous

    1. Supply side “solutions” to a consumer side lack of demand are doomed to fail. Increasing prices (without increasing value) at a time when consumers value music less and less is a surefire way to make sure fewer and fewer people are paying for music at all.

    2. Youtube pays nothing for most streams, and is used by basically everyone to listen to music. Spotify, a small minority of total music streaming, at least pays half a penny or so per stream. Yet even this article on problems in the music industry repeatedly demonized Spotify and doesn’t make clear that Youtube is a far bigger problem at the moment.

    • Anonymous

      “Youtube is a far bigger problem [than Spotify]”

      No, it isn’t — but it will be when Google launches

        • Anonymous

          Well, there’s really no point in arguing — the free YouTube will be dead & gone in a few months.

          And from then on you’ll be right.

          • Anonymous

            You seriously think that Spotify is a bigger problem when Youtube pays far less and is used almost 10x more?What is your reasoning?

          • Anonymous

            “What is your reasoning?”

            You know one part of the answer already: The current, free version of YouTube is far more popular than Spotify.

            And it’s far more popular because it has video and because you can share the content (it isn’t hidden behind a paywall as is the case with Spotify and the next version of YouTube).

            Please see the other part in my reply below (i.e. you can upload and monetize non-cannibalizing content to the current free version of YouTube, while you can’t do any of that with Spotify or YouTube Music Key).

          • GGG

            Except look at the actual users. 40M (at most) Spotify users stream music almost as much as 1BILLION YTers.

            I don’t get why I have to keep saying this to you. What about those numbers don’t you understand or take issue with?

          • Anonymous

            You’re beating a dead horse, GGG.

            The free YouTube is over. I’m interested in the future.

          • GGG

            Hahah, you…interested in the future…hahha, good one.

            So a service that is clearly used very effectively by a small amount of people isn’t good enough for you? Weird.

            Also, you should be thanking YouTube they did something to make you hate them. It saved you from having to admit how far up your ass your head is.

          • Anonymous

            “you…interested in the future”

            Well, you keep talking about the past (that old YouTube/Spotify conflict).

            I keep talking about the huge changes that are just around the corner…

          • GGG

            Using it to prove a point; that Spotify, from the consumer usage standpoint, is incredibly effective. Making Spotify pay more is another story, but at least we know people on Spotify are incredibly active when you compare them to another, enormous streaming service with more to it. (The videos you love so much.)

          • Anonymous

            “The videos you love so much.”

            The point is not if I love videos.

            People do!

            And I tell you, Spotify will never survive without them. It’s over.

        • Anonymous

          “it’s a reasonable conclusion that almost 10x as much music is being streamed on Youtube compared to Spotify”

          Not sure what you’re trying to say?

          It is very easy to make money from the current version of YouTube — without any cannibalizing! You do that in two ways:

          1) Upload non-cannibalizing previews, behind-the-scenes, etc. while you make exclusive iTunes releases.
          2) Monetize similar non-cannibalizing user generated content.

          You can’t do any of that on Spotify!

          However, you can’t do any of that on YouTube Music Key, either.

          So again:

          The current, free version of YouTube is a wonderful service for artists today — perhaps even as good as iTunes — while the next version, YouTube Music Key, is the most destructive attack on the music industry we’ve seen since Napster.

          Here’s an exerpt from Google’s new infamous YouTube Music Key contract:

          “Catalogue Commitment and Monetization. It is understood that as of the Effective Date and throughout the Term, Provider’s entire catalogue of Provider Sound Recordings and Provider Music Videos (including Provider Music Videos delivered via a third party) will be available for the Premium and Free Services for use in connection with each type of Relevant Content, (excluding AudioSwap Recordings, which will be at Provider’s option) and set to a default policy of Monetize for both the Premium and Free Services, except as otherwise set forth in this Agreement. Further, Provider will provide Google with the same Provider Sound Recordings and Provider Music Videos on the same day as it provides such content to any other similarly situated partners. The foregoing will be subject to reasonable quantity of limited-time exclusive promotional offers (in each case, with a single third party partner) (“Limited Exclusives”), as long as a) Provider provides Google with comparable exclusive promotional offers and b) the quantity and duration of such Limited Exclusives do not frustrate the intent of this Agreement.”

          This means that you will never sell a song again if you sign Google’s new YouTube contract! Your entire catalogue will be available not only as streaming, but as free download as well on YouTube on release day!

          • Anonymous

            This completely ignores the way that Youtube is practically used for 99.99% of artists. The fact that there ARE ways to successfully use Youtube (with hundreds and hundreds of manhours) doesn’t really change the facts of the way that Youtube IS used by the vast majority.

          • Anonymous

            Well, again: It doesn’t make sense to discuss the free version of YouTube anymore.

            YouTube Music Key is just around the corner and it’s going to change everything — for the worse.

          • GGG

            I don’t get you. You clearly only care about major label artists anyway, so why would this new YT be a problem? Not like acts don’t sign their souls away to major’s already anyway.

          • Anonymous

            “You clearly only care about major label artists”

            Nothing could be more wrong.

            In my eyes, it has been a mistake to sign with major labels since around 2008-2010, but I’m convinced it’s an absolute disaster today for the simple reason that you sign with Google if you sign with a major.

            “so why would this new YT be a problem?”

            The new YouTube is going to eliminate what’s left of the established industry: Major label artists, iTunes and all audio-only streaming sites.

            Indies hold the key now.

        • Anonymous

          …we’re several Anoymous’es here so you may want to repeat your point, if you want anybody to see it…

    • Versus

      Very true about YouTube. There are not only tracks, but so many entire ALBUMS on YouTube, without even ads on them, meaning the artists, writers, publishers etc. are not making a cent, but instead losing money on potential sales or legitimate streams.

      Most ridiculous of all are the comments on such YouTube videos: listeners thanking the uploader for “sharing”, and the uploader modestly congratulating himself for being such a generous human being.

      It’s so easy to “share” someone else’s work, just like spending someone else’s money.

      • Anonymous

        “the uploader modestly congratulating himself for being such a generous human being”

        Haha, yeah that’s priceless.

        • Hi

          That depends on the ”sharer”, in case of the EDM industry there are quite a few ”sharers” who upload with the permission from the artist or labels to give more exposure, but most don’t..

  4. X

    17 & 20 should be first and second…

    Music streaming companies pay several millions to the major labels both as upfront guarantees and then on a monthly basis with a ~60% revenue share for themselves…equity is also often negotiated. Some would say the big 3 are comparable to the mafia towards the artists & the streaming companies…

  5. Again

    Another article filled with hyperbole, opinion, and incorrect information masquerading as news.

    • Blog, not news

      I think anyone who reads this and Hypebot have long ago figured out this is not a news site. Is there a true, honest-to-god, unbiased music tech trade?

      • Kyle Williams

        Well put.

        News by it’s nature should be boring and devoid of subjective opinions. It’s important to think about what DMN’s bottom line is to keep it running as a business. That’s web traffic to the content to bring in advertising dollars. You can see it on their advertising page. Also look at a list of their sponsors.

        Creating posts like these, especially being really negative, I think pulls in a lot of readers.

        • Anonymous

          Music news are available all over the place, but you need analysis as well. And that’s what you get here — from time to time.

          The debates are valuable too — from time to time :) — and you really can’t say that about Hypebot or any other site I’m aware of. Gearslutz had a nice music industry/music politics forum, but Jules shut it down, probably because of all the fights. Fortunately, Paul seems to thrive on war. :)

          What I personally miss here is more emphasis on solutions than on conflicts — from time to time. Articles and discussions keep circling, round and round, going nowhere except down the drain.

          We all know that artists can’t make money from Spotify, that piracy hurts everybody, that consumers need good and cheap solutions, that artists need a MySpace replacement and a YouTube replacement and better payment, but what the fuck are we going to DO about it?

          I would like to see more emphasis on results, conclusions, consequences.

    • Versus

      It would be far more helpful to call out in specific detail the “hyperbole”, counter the “opinion”, and correct the “incorrect information”…

      ….otherwise your own comment sounds like “hyperbole, opinion, and incorrect information.”

  6. DeezNizzuhh

    The music industry is simple to understand.

    PIMP vs. HEAUX

    It’s the American way. And to deny that fact is even more American.

  7. B-boys

    The only reasonable source of income today is gigs. Sorry for the product placement, but we at Beatsy have built the platform that is going to solve this problem for artists. Using Beatsy as an artist is 100% free, and we dont take a cut from the artists fee at all, but instead charge a tiny 9% fee from the booker.

    Check us out at

  8. Cmonbro

    If you are at the top.. you do not have any of these issues…


    make it to the top..

    • Versus

      How do you figure?
      Even sales at the top are down, down, down…

    • Versus

      This only solves the problem for the few at the top, where there is very little room. If someone makes it to the top, that displaces someone else. A zero-sum game. Hardly a solution for everyone else.

  9. Anonymous

    The artist currently lacks a centralized hub online that is a default for music fans, thanks to the erosion of MySpace Music. Facebook was once viewed as a replacement for MySpace Music, until the major shift to Timeline”

    So, why don’t you launch one, Mr. Resnikoff?

    Good observation, though. Also regarding Facebook. I compared a major artist’s various social network offerings yesterday:

    Her Twitter was updated 5-10 times a day; her Facebook once or twice a week — and her most recent MySpace entry was from May. :)

    Which leads me to this:

    I think Twitter’s the next big thing. And I know it’s pretty big already, but it could be so much bigger, and so much more important for artists — without boring the crap out of non-artists, as was the case with MySpace, and without boring the crap out of everybody in general, as is the case with Facebook now.

    Twitter seems to make the right decisions again and again, as opposed to Facebook, Google and, lately, Apple; they are fast and furious, easy and funny, and the results are visible everywhere: TV and news sites rarely bother to interview people anymore — they bring the latest tweets.

    It may not be a centralized hub, as I suppose you define it since it also uses a timeline and some scrolling is required, but it does add a useful personal ‘central’ where you can link to your personal web site. And that’s really all you need when you have constant live interaction with fans in which you can link to iTunes and anything else again and again. Plus you can embed anything, including less known but better paying YouTube alternatives that allow you to avoid Google without losing any video traffic.

    It doesn’t get much more centralized than that imo. And I think it’s important for what’s left of the industry to invest its remaining energy in one platform — and to do it now.

    As you say, Facebook is really not on the map anymore; Google is, well, evil, Amazon could be interesting with Twitch and all had it not been for the fact that it’s even more evil than Google, and Apple just doesn’t seem to move anymore; it could’ve done anything with all its money, all its content, its good intentions, love for music and incredible infrastructure. But it doesn’t even have a social function, though it have dozens of popular forums.

    All in all, my money’s on #TwitterHub…

  10. Anonymous

    “Google also remains a huge part of the problem. Searching for torrents and pirated material is not only easy, it’s frequently auto-completed for the user in Google’s searchbox. Or, worse, delivered in email as part of a Google Alert.”

    Google needs to be sued.

  11. Gordon Clarke

    My heart truly go out to all musicians, songwriters and engineers. I’m just glad and feel very honored that I get to at least expressively tell my children storys on how music was (concerts festivals new release dates…most of all the joys of hearing a new song that you could emotionally bond to> whether it be funny sad uplifting energetic or just downright awesome> instead of hearing older songs repeat them- selfs to the point becoming an eco of sounds) before it was ripped away from Earth by geed!! By people that had honestly had nothing to do with making the music and Certainly had know right to even profit a dime. (The day music-talent was stolen away.)

    • GGG

      Gimme a break. People still connect to music as emotionally as they ever have. Recorded music didn’t give people that, unless you’re also going to tell us people like Mozart had no emotional effect on people.

    • Anonymous

      “one of the major labels is bitterly regretting signing up to streaming”

      That’s just the beginning. Wait till they understand what they did when they signed Google’s new YouTube contract.

    • dude

      David Lowery has no fucking idea what he’s talking about as usual… how he managed to become the press’s go-to authority on music royalties is beyond me

    • Anonymous

      Yeah majors are crying all the way to the bank with the BILLIONS of free money (ie. that they don’t have to share with artists) they get.

  12. Dr. VonCueBall

    Again and until for the umpteenth time the PROs finally get their act together and threaten to all pull copyrighted content simultaneously and actually do it from any and all sources not paying correct amounts quarters, nickels, dimes, pennies, will remain fractions of mills with no bottom in site.

    It will take dead silence for a period of time for those idiots in congress to understand an artist deserves to be compensated fairly for use of his or her works. Imagine Radio stations gone silent for a month with only chatter box talking heads on every station and no musical content.

    the Doctor

  13. Sven

    Maybe the problem is the understanding of how we measure the value of music.
    Only 50-60 years ago musicians did not earn significant amounts of money to make a living for themselves. The only time in history where you can observe a significant rise in monetization of musical output is from the 70s until the year 2000 (begin of the digital era). Now, I am a musician myself and I love what I do, but I do not expect to make a living of just my art. Even some of the greatest artists like Goethe or Schiller had a dayjob besides writing their literature. That understanding of music has somehow changed in the last 40 years. Isn’t it more important to have the ability to share your art with the world than not? I think it is delusional to have a an approach to earn a (significant) income just with your art, since lets be honest, the last 40 years have changed the understanding of the value of music for the worse. In my opinion you cannot value the music you make with money, but the people you reach. Why should we expect that a small part of music history where it was lucrative to be a musician still would be the norm? It hasn’t been the norm for centuries as described earlier. It was rather an abnormally.
    That is why I absolutely have no problem putting my music out there for free, because I know I have a safety net (a job) to take care of myself. And that is completely fine.

    • Anonymous

      “Even some of the greatest artists like Goethe or Schiller had a dayjob”

      Never confuse writers with musicians!

      Writers practise whenever they use the written language. That’s why so many of them work as reporters, and such.

      Most musicians, on the other hand, need to practise their craft — as well as their art — constantly (after years and years of non-stop education) and would not be able to deliver the professional performances audiences expect if they had day jobs.

      • GGG

        If you follow the average person’s modern life, you have 18 years plus maybe 4+ years of college to practice. Based on how many incredible musicians I’ve known since moving here ten years ago, if you aren’t a very good player by the time you’ve left college, or really, even gotten to college, you just aren’t a good musician. Or if you started too late it’s not like you’d be good enough to make music worth buying anyway in the early stages anyway.

        Obviously collaboration can solve many problems, but it’s far more problematic to be a good to great musician but mediocre songwriter than it is to be a mediocre musician but great songwriter. Songs are where it’s at, even in jambands a lot more often than one would think.

        • Sven

          I have a decent music education. 14 years of classical piano and music theory, 10 years of drums & percussion and I have played in a couple of bands. I am very capable of playing these instruments on a professional level.

          If you argue, just because nobody buys my music I am a bad musician, that just proofs my point of the understanding of the value of music nowadays. I value my art by how many people attend the live shows (which I play in my free time, often for free) and not how many copies people will buy or stream on the internet. Even if nobody would listen to my music that would be fine too, since essentially you cannot really value art by other peoples opinions (sales). My own evaluation of my output is by far the most important factor and I don’t really care if others think something different.

          And of course you can draw similarities with literature. Goethe and Schiller did not expect to sell anything of their work. They wrote out of passion, like many musicians compose out of passion. Earning money with your music is a completely fine reason to me, but do not expect that it is going to be easy, since the business side of things have changed back to “normal” in the 2000s as i wrote earlier.

          • GGG

            I never once argued if nobody was buying your music it means you aren’t good. I know plenty of incredible musicians who don’t sell shit, usually jazz/world music guys. I argued if, I’ll use your case, you’d been playing piano for 14 years and were still mediocre, that you just wouldn’t be a good musician. This doesn’t seem to be the case for you. So if your music isn’t selling, the issue isn’t you need more practice, the issue is you need music people like more, or maybe more marketing, or whatever.

            My point is simply that you have ample time to sit at home and practice while someone is footing your bills (yes, this is a very big generalization and not everyone is so lucky). So if you’re 22 and complaining you don’t have time to practice, that’s your fault for wasting two decades of life.

          • Sven

            I just read your comment again and can see that you actually didn’t argue what I wrote earlier. I guess I was to quick to answer :).
            I aggree, that if you want to sell music you need the marketing & business aspect of it. A lot of these things you can do yourself in 2014 (Soundcloud, facebook, songkick, found your own label, get your music on digital distribution channels etc.) Those are not incredible hard tasks to undertake yourself, technologically speaking. And in most cases this will pay comparatively more than signing with the middle man, the major or indie label.

            In my case, I am questioning the monetization possibilities of a craft, which does not receive a lot of respect by its stakeholders. I think it is not wasting time learning to play an instrument, but I do not see it as an investment, since the payoff is so ridiculously bad. So, it is enough for me to be a good musician, practice my art, play gigs and have the ability to create something from nothing. Not a lot of people can do that. And check it: That ability can even help you in your day job ;)

    • rDey

      Right on, it would be great if it was a “Work it and bam! You’re a zillionaire or even very well off” but an artist is… an artist… and throughout centuries the term “Starving artist” has been applicable. I love playing music and it frustrates the hell out of me that the income can be so awful but at the same time the “Artist” in me, the songwriting, playing music, the desire to do what I do just takes over and is bigger than the money part and at the end of the day for me… it is what it is and maybe four centuries from now the music i write, record and play today will get into a super monetary up cycle and my bloodline will benefit, who knows. My grandfather was an amazing sax player in NYC back in the 20’s and 30’s but was just another player who made his living from gig to gig… he is gone now but I honor him by using his lat name as my stage name…. so really… “glitz, glam, stardom, mansions and more, that was for then, but the artist art is for now, today, regardless of money up or money down, you gotta get your groove on and play….” :-)

    • Kirk

      You are not a true artist, but only a part- time musician. You can’t speak your dedicated full-time artists and musicians.

  14. Sven

    Maybe the problem is the understanding of how we measure the value of music.
    Only 50-60 years ago musicians did not earn significant amounts of money to make a living for themselves. The only time in history where you can observe a significant rise in monetization of musical output is from the 70s until the year 2000 (begin of the digital era). Now, I am a musician myself and I love what I do, but I do not expect to make a living of just my art. Even some of the greatest artists like Goethe or Schiller had a dayjob besides writing their literature. That understanding of music has somehow changed in the last 40 years. Isn’t it more important to have the ability to share your art with the world than not? I think it is delusional to have a an approach to earn a (significant) income just with your art, since lets be honest, the last 40 years have changed the understanding of the value of music for the worse. In my opinion you cannot value the music you make with money, but the people you reach. Why should we expect that a small part of music history where it was lucrative to be a musician still would be the norm? It hasn’t been the norm for centuries as described earlier. It was rather an abnormally.
    That is why I absolutely have no problem putting my music out there for free, because I know I have a safety net (a job) to take care of myself. And that is completely fine

    • Versus

      “Only 50-60 years ago musicians did not earn significant amounts of money to make a living for themselves. ”

      There were plenty of musicians making a living then, whether in jazz, classical, theatre, or early rock, pop, and soul.

  15. Zed

    “The music recording is failing”? That’s your first sentence? You realize that doesn’t actually make sense, right?

  16. Sven Timo Borg

    Maybe the problem is the understanding of how we measure the value of music.
    Only 50-60 years ago musicians did not earn significant amounts of money to make a living for themselves. The only time in history where you can observe a significant rise in monetization of musical output is from the 70s until the year 2000 (begin of the digital era). Now, I am a musician myself and I love what I do, but I do not expect to make a living of just my art. Even some of the greatest artists like Goethe or Schiller had a dayjob besides writing their literature. That understanding of music has somehow changed in the last 40 years. Isn’t it more important to have the ability to share your art with the world than not? I think it is delusional to have a an approach to earn a (significant) income just with your art, since lets be honest, the last 40 years have changed the understanding of the value of music for the worse. In my opinion you cannot value the music you make with money, but the people you reach. Why should we expect that a small part of music history where it was lucrative to be a musician still would be the norm? It hasn’t been the norm for centuries as described earlier. It was rather an abnormally.
    That is why I absolutely have no problem putting my music out there for free, because I know I have a safety net (a job) to take care of myself. And that is completely fine

    • lf

      What if: instead of giving away your original music compositions and recording, millions of people gave away homemade whiskey on a consistent basis. Now, on top of that, imagine “free” distribution systems that allowed other people to sample your booze. How long would that last before the federal police were confiscating your illegal product?

      Now, I am not saying that we need a license to make music, but dammit there has to be trade regulation to prevent people like you from “dumping goods” on the market. How would we feel as citizens if the United States if our government allowed China to dump cheap good on our shores without any tariffs? Oh yeah, the Chinese often get away with that because our trade regulations suck.

      Still the Chinese can’t afford to give away products like furniture but somehow people feel they can give away music. Let’s see you try to make furniture at home as a “hobby” and give it away.

      After all the decades of suffering that was endured to create unions and trade protections in the U.S., it’s all been eviscerated, while people (like the one that comments above) dance on the grave of what was once the backbone of our economy: protections for trade and workers. I for one have nothing but contempt for people that give away their music.

      • Sven

        I think you’re comparing apples with oranges here. Music is a product of the mind and not a physical product. So I don’t think your comparison with giving away physical products makes much sense.

        Being a musician is expensive. Receiving education, buying instruments, practicing in your free time etc. If you want to see that as a financial investment for your profession in life, be my guest. The truth is though, the payoff of this investment is so incredible bad, that I won’t have to think twice of pursuing a different career.
        That is why I want to raise the question of how we value music today. In my opinion, music cannot be measured in the way you described a little weirdly (Dumping goods? China? seriously?).
        If you want to measure it that way, that is fine, but i don’t. Because I don’t listen to Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, Kanye West, Beyonce (all a product of the system you described).
        And that is the point: You can push your music as a product like the artists mentioned above or you don’t compromise yourself and have artistic freedom. Because if you want to sell your music and make a decent living of it, you will need to break down your art to a common denominator, the consumer preference. Big news: The people don’t care how much sweat, blood, money and time you put into your work. All they hear is a 3:30 min song.
        In my views you cannot measure music in dollars, since taste preferences differ enormously among individuals. But yea, you can make products like the artists mentioned above and earn the big money if you want. Then you just need to find said common denominator and tailor the product to the consumer needs.

        And American economy has never been about the protection of trade and workers. Quite the opposite. The backbone of the American economy has been consolidating industries, cut costs (workers) and enlarging profit margins by more efficient means of production (Also in the music industry. See the irony???). You know, there is a reason why American companies produce physical products in China and not the US…

  17. Noel Troy

    A very good summary of the situation; I would like to add…

    1) Freemium has some early viral success stories… and a great deal of hype about making more money by giving content away for free. Those successes caused untold damage, because as soon as the consumer cottoned on to the fact that $0 was the price of choice, there was no market for anyone.

    2) Speaking of Freemium, how does a band fill a venue when their music is considered ‘throwaway’? Free does not imply quality.

    3) ASCAP & BMI collects money for all performers, but divies out thoses performance monies to top 200 touring artists. Smaller performers (for whom money is collected at venues) never get back what is theirs.

    4) Music discovery platforms rapidly become a minefield of new music. New artists are buried 20 million songs deep. There is no pathway to discovery.

    5) The music industry is a culture of distrust. To paraphrase Morrissey – artists have been stabbed so many times, they don’t have any skin.

    Noel Troy

    • GGG

      Re: #2. Free doesn’t imply bad, either. Nor does it imply throwaway. Ask Pretty Lights how he fills up venues. I’d also argue the music that makes the most money is treated as throwaway far more, i.e. singles that disappear 6 months later.

  18. bwaaaah!

    Everyone is an artist. 99.9% of music made today is computer generated noise. The good stuff gets buried under a pile of shit. Today’s listeners have no clue either. Just look inside the pages of Rolling Stone at what’s hot. Lana Del Ray? No wonder fans want free music.

  19. Music Business Master's Student

    Number 17 is misleading –

    It’s not Spotify’s fault that the labels require a large advance of which doesn’t pay out to the artist. Most, if not all artists, have provisions within their record label contract that say “artists are paid on money earned” (i.e. record sales, mechanical licenses, etc.). Since an advance to the record label is not “money earned” the advance does not go to the artist.

    Number 26 is completely false. If anything, the current music industry has made it possible for indie artist to compete directly against platinum selling artists.

  20. blahblahblah

    I think that all of this whining on the internet has only served to put the nail further into the music industry’s coffin. As the old song said, “nobody knows you when you’re down and out.” Where people used to be awed and amazed by musical talent, they now view musicians, and people in the business, as losers and complainers.
    Quit yer bellyachin’!

  21. tony

    ha ha… i’m sure you go to work for free and steal everything you can so i won’t even bother to think that you’re an intelligent person capable of any kind of discussion on the subject but that thanks for confirming my feelings about recording anymore music …. Thank you thank you thank you…

  22. luckywhiteboy

    100. This entire system is only 100 years old and is need of an overhaul. Get over it. People need to start suggesting solutions rather than bitching and making lists of 99 reasons to despair.

    • rDey

      Ya that is good, there is a solution we just haven’t seen it yet but like water running downhill it will find its way, the pendulum swings….

    • Versus

      For all those who (rather hypocritically, need it be said) complain about the complainers and recommend seeking the (apparently obvious) solution instead:


      • Anonymous

        The Phonograph created the recorded music industry.
        The Internet took it away.

        I suspect future generations will see the idea of selling music as unrealistic. Technology giveth and taketh away.

  23. John

    There is this sense for many indie artists, as well as already established artists that in order to stay with the “current trends” an artist’s music should be available everywhere available on the internet. Bad idea and here’s why.
    My company is licensed by Apple for worldwide sales, usually for same day or next day content uploading onto iTunes. We receive the same royalties as any large label, and give most back to the artist. We are seeing our sales diminish due to many of our Artists literally giving away money by signing up with all the other streaming services, which if they pay anything to the artist, pay pennies on the dollar as compared to iTunes. Love em or hate em, iTunes still has a decent pay structure for the artists and we are encouraging those we work with to realize this.

  24. richard

    I purchase literally everything off of ITunes. Don’t know how their pay-out to the artists works. I hope they are fair. I used to own a dance studio and every year paid my ASCAP and BMI fees. Then a new one comes along, SEASAC, which I also paid. What of those fees actually go to the songwriters / artists? Yes the music industry is currently in trouble. Is the reason that most of the “current” music just sucks or is it because artist development is not longer viable?

  25. Ray Gordon

    First they came for me…

    I’m an e-book writer who sw this coming fifteen years ago. Today’s system is actually better for everyone except those who benefitted from the “label cartel” system. The real villain is the public, who watns to be spoon-fed its entertainment, rather than find the gems on their own and think for themselves. They say it’s great that we don’t need labels and publishers anymore, but the fans still attach credibility only to those who are “signed.” “If you were any good, you’d have a deal with a major label.”

    Many artists kiss up to the dinosaur system rather than deal with the current reality. The best thing to do is to put out great work, then charge rich people a fortune for “VIP access.” Forget the mooching masses. If I write a free dating-advice book, there will be an add for dating-coaching in there, but I only want wealthy patron/customers. Why should I tech some broke loser how to get beautiful women and watch him not even pay me, when I can teach a millionaire who values the information and will pay for it because he has to (smart writers don’t give away the store).

    One thing I do now with fiction is write one chapter of a novel and put it up for free. If it doesn’t catch fire, or get funding, I do not write any more.

    People like Google and Youtube but they are creating a cutthroat, global marketplace, and they also make piracy a big problem, but the real problem is that “anyone can do this” now. That’s actually as it should be. The old system only benefitted a few people, because if you didn’t get signed, you were totally screwed. Now you can just flood the internet with your work for free.

    I think most musicians are shocked that they really aren’t as superior to the others as they thought. The best will always make money. Oh, and $34k a year is hardly chump change. We need to adjust our expectations for the new reality.

  26. JOHNNYG34







  27. Jay

    Did anyone think to remember that there is less disposable money than ever nowadays? Everyone is talking about no one buying music. Well the problem is that the cost of living since at least 1999 has gone up so much, what person besides a teenager living at home can afford to buy lots of albums as we did when I was a teenager or young adult. The rents are higher; food is more expensive; everything costs more than it ever has. The music industry really needs to point the finger at who controls the money and who is squeezing out the middle class. It’s not wonder people are going for online streaming! Who can afford it! That being said, I still buy new vinyl and mp3. But no where near the rate I did when I was younger. It’s the money system people, not because of people’s choice not to buy .They would if it were cost efficient. But it’s not. You would have to starve to death to keep buying albums the way record companies want them bought.

  28. Rock Cousteau

    As usual, Paul has clearly enumerated all the problems with the music industry. Now, if all the problem solvers out there could just approach each one of these problems with solutions, we will have solved everything. In the interest of time, I will briefly say, I don’t “hate” Spotify. Spotify, and subscriber based streaming services, could be beneficial for all parties, if the monthly rate was increased. This “$10 a month” business model sucks. I would certainly be willing to pay more for a subscription, as I recall spending at least $100/month for cds. That’s all for now. And, thank you, Paul. RC

    • blahblahblah

      Boo. How about more people, a LOT more people, start paying the $10 a month? I think that’s what’s supposed to be the solution. I prefer Rdio myself. Happy to pay $10 for it. They’ll all raise the rates, sure enough, once they get enough people hooked.

  29. Robert Fairweather

    I haven’t been to this site for half a decade and you nooobs are still scratching your collective heads over the same thing….

  30. Martin Atkibs

    Here we go again – anyone remember the blank fucking cassette?? It helped spread music. 20,000 people ‘illegally ‘ downloading your music is only a problem if you’re shit. And, to the earlier point about a music business education costing $65k ? – come to my program at SAE Chicago – it’s under 25k

  31. Bman

    Great post and well thought out. I pretty much agree, but I have to say my last 3 artists that I “found” and love have all been once that hit my FB timeline. Sounds crazy I know, but its true. Since then I have bought their downloads, physical CDs and had a chance to attend a live concert when one appeared at a venue in my town. Loved it and would do it again. I do not pay the prices that are demanded to see big name shows. The value proposition of paying that much to see the artist from the nosebleed section just is not there for me. Point is, I parted with my money because I “discovered” these artists via an ad source on social media. It truly did work.

    ALSO….I absolutely agree that the free streaming services need to change. There are too many and they are abusing their presence by not enforcing the public performance side. Thankfully, associations like ASCAP and BMI have stepped up their enforcement of these, but it is being met with huge resistance from bar and tavern owners that want it all for free.

    One last ray of hope I want to share. I actually work for a digital music jukebox company. I can tell you that we pay artists and all other parties involved. It is very fractional, but we do pay. This is also a great way to build your fan base. With nearly 30,000 jukebox locations across the US, our reach is near just about anyone. That means when you push a notice to your fans on social media that they can now share your great song with their friends at the local bar/restaurant over a pint, they can go there and do it and the artist will get paid every time this happens. If you truly think about it, this is better than CD. In the old days, a jukebox had to buy 1 CD. They likely played 1-3 songs regularly. So the owner of that CD paid one time fee to have those 3 songs for eternity or until the CD was worn out. In the case of digital jukes, every time a song plays an artist gets paid.

    BTW, the first artist on that list that I discovered, I immediately chased down getting their music on our network so I could go pay to play it at my favorite bar for all my friends. Since then I have made at least a dozen more fans of her music from my frequent play and strangers asking me who sang that last song. And while I am sure the artist does not know of my support and probably would not notice if I stopped today, I can appreciate that I put my money where my heart is. I appreciate her efforts and support her work.

  32. hippydog

    How to fix the music biz

    1.) Stop asking the venues to pay when music plays. Start asking the people who are playing the music in public to pay.. Small distinction I know.. but important.

    2.) Expand the powers of the PROS (Performance Rights Organization), & the Collectives.. Basically, for anything broadcast (Venue, TV, Radio, Streaming, Websites, podcasts, yada yada).. ANYTHING.. It goes thru the PRO’s … The PRO’s then pay the artist/label..

    3.) How do they track who should get paid? ANYONE who wants a license (one off licence for a specific song, or a blanket yearly licence, it doesn’t matter)… Must provide a list of what was played and for how many people, and then pay on the agreed amount (depending on the circumstances)

  33. Peter

    I don’t see any problems at all, just a list of different people defending their interests. The music industry is doing fine, it’s individuals with a misplaced sense of entitlement that are doing the whining. Yes, popular music is terrible nowadays but creative musicians also have unparalelled opportunities to reach sizeable genre specific audiences which were previously unheard of. There’s no reason why the music industry has to remain a certain size simply because that’s how it used to be. Talented people will always be able to make a buck and if not… too bad. I’d love to be a rockstar as well but the only criteria that should decide whether I should pursue it as a career is whether I’m able to make a living from it. The least of my worries is whether music labels have a place in the modern music landscape; innovate, die, actually care about your artists or do whatever but just please stop playing the victim…

    • Versus

      Expecting people to want your music may be a “misplaced sense of entitlement”.

      On the other hand, expecting intellectual property laws to be enforced and respected when people do want your music, is a completely justified “entitlement”.

  34. No name

    Correct me if I’m wrong.

    1. There are people who do not listen to the radio or watch TV shows. These people follow what they personally like over the internet or friends. Much of this music is not associated with a large publishing houses and many authors working independently. How will people know if they like the band or the author if they will not have anywhere to listen to? Why go to a concert if you had no where to listen to what someone is playing? Attempts to expel independent and less famous authors from the internet as well as limiting free listening to pop music over the Internet will lead to the collapse of the music industry.

    2. It is stupid to oppress ordinary listeners if they have illegally acquired music. Hardly anyone will make money from buying music for personal use. Neither the people have the money or want to buy. Governrment should enforce laws and control who do not register DJs and bands playing other people’s music and whether they have paid all records that they play as DJs or play as a band.
    Many DJs today play music unregistered or licensed. That music was illegally acquired and that process a lot more damage than people that have free downloaded music for home use.

  35. Congressive Online

    Fun watching passionate idiots arguing both sides of a three headed quarter.

    I make good money on Google (AdSense) with my music and vids. If your music is being played there for free, it’s because you haven’t monetized. If your music is good, and people play the whole song, it pays better the longer a video is watched. Profit!

    The only real solution: IP must be paid for at the last point of distribution, not at consumption. ISPs like AT&T, Verizon, etc make billions muling contraband like Colombian drug lords wish they could. They charge to deliver packages and they swear they have no idea what is in them. The internet is not a “new paradigm.” Your ISP is just a digital radio station. The old ASCAP/BMI structure still applies. IP fees collected from your ISP and paid to copyright holders based on actual content delivered (EASY in this digital age) turn pirates into your own personal sales force. Money flows to copyright holders first, not middlemen like streamers.

    Not gonna happen. Too many Wharton MBAs staying up late at night figuring out how to rip off content creators. And they are really good at what they do.

  36. Minneapolis Observer

    And how much money, honestly, have you spent on music in the past year or two?

    And if all music was only on uncopyable CDs, would you go without any music? Or would you just steal the CDs?

  37. Wesley

    I am new to the impact of the piracy and conspiracy in the music industry, but what I am seeing it just the greed and focus to have the most music in directory and real effort in marketing acquisitioning making money from advertisement that comes before a hit YouTube (you screw) song, “NOTHING ” that really focus on artistic work, rather they are using Artistic work and their compositions to direct traffic toward fortune 500 and others company for sales purposes. I know YouTube and these company are marking deals on the commodities of these ads, but the artist are not been compensated for using their product as a gateway in public relation and its advertisement entities. It can stop, but not when distributors like;Universal Music Group received $404 million from the sale of Beats) under contractual consent and the artist is the deal, but the get no money. how could 3.1 million hits return to artist $39. really 3.1million, here is my take. Its all about marketing acquisition and control to screw over the artist and their work. what is the purpose of Intellectual property rights, don’t even talk about copyright patent.. ARTIST TAKE YOUR MATTERS TO CONGRESS, if IRAQ can fix the music industry know ways to stop piracy .It shouldn’t be that hard, but I think I made a mistake it is going to be hard when these companies are millionaire from piracy..wb

  38. Music Guy

    Most the comments on here are born from the ignorant and smart asses!. The music industry and the independent artist internet music industry are no different from what is happening within society today. The corporations are taking complete control of everything and there main goal is to force everyone under there control. It’s the sickness that greed spawns! It’s also the start of the falling of society just as it happened in Rome! And there you have it!

  39. The Big Lebowski

    The main trouble is there are only so many hours in a day, and only so much money anyone can spend on music. File-sharing is not much different from the dubbed tapes everyone made off the radio in the 70s and 80s. The only difference is the industry can actually count each file transfer and treat it as “treachery most foul.” The industry is a victim of its own greed and stupidity. It forced music fans to buy full CDs for a couple of decent tracks. It used a “heads I win, tails you lose” argument claiming the consumer didn’t own the CD, he or she owned the *content.* So, if the CD gets damaged the record label replaces the “content?” No, the consumer has to buy another one…over…and over again. And let’s not forget the Labels squeezed their loyal distribution channels when the CD was new because they could. This forced places like Tower Records to start dealing in used CDs for sheer survival. A CD, if cared for, can be resold for a lifetime. All I can see is an industry that is near-terminal from self-inflicted wounds and zombie CEOs that are too busy stuffing money in their pockets to care…and now it’s too late. The Labels made it very clear they have no loyalty to ANYONE; not the artists, customers, distributors… I feel sorry for the genuine artists that have to suffer in this climate, but to cry for the Labels…you might as well cry over the death of Henry F. Potter of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Screw-em.

  40. eddy

    Music never needed an ‘industry’. The industry deserved to die. You can’t marry Lucy, have a child, live in an apartment, and go down to the ‘club’ to earn a living singing babaloo: It was a TV show. All university jazz programs should be closed immediately. Anyone contemplating a career in music should be talked out of it. Digital changed Everything. They used to say that radio and records would kill live music, then disc jockeys, then the drum machine, then home taping,then downloading, the sampler- blah blah folks, it’s All of the above – IT IS OVER. Want a career in Jazz? Watch this brief excerpt from the Real Frank Zappa Book:

  41. eddy

    Dear webmaster, please delete those two videos above, it’s an accident.

  42. Tony DeStefano

    I think the music industry is suffering from an overabundance of artists and not enough fans. I think the fans went away because gas prices and food prices have increased. Who can afford music? But while food prices are not abating, gas prices have come down which is promising for the music business. And finally, local musicians and teachers seem to be doing better than their big label counterparts. Local musicians can get a couple of gigs a month at $2,000 a gig and make more than recording artists alone.

    • TuneFan

      Right on, Tony DeStefano! Best comment of them all, bro. Lemons to lemonade, I say. The music will only get better, and actual professional musicians will make out just fine.

  43. Mark G

    The main problem is the artist is now too accessible online.

  44. John

    I feel like the music industry still has a seriously bad reputation it needs to shake. The people that built Google and spotify and facebook all grey up despising the music labels for what went down with Napster and the following shitstorm of lawsuits they tried to send to ordinary citzens that amounted to MILLIONS of dollars of damage. Kind of overkill there. It does not sound like these labels have improved if they still treat artists like crap and remove any sort of content off Youtube if it even gets close to sounding like some sort of song, regardless of the purpose of said content or the legality of fair use. Hence why many people wish the music industry will burn regardless of the artists that get dragged down with it. This pr problem is obviously not first priority when it comes to fixing the problems of the industry but I feel it needs to be addressed because a couple generations have now grown up wishing to spite the industry as much as possible and frankly, I can see why. (Also screw Metallica. Suing a file sharing network clashes with that rebel image.)

  45. f

    “Indies hold the key now”

    How on earth is this true when youtube music key and everything else is causing free music and no pay to artists. And are you refering to independent artist or independent labels???

    • f

      quote comes from tuesday September 2, 2014 comment from Anonymous,

  46. anon

    I’m in the music industry and fed up of hearing blame towards streaming services like spotify. To tackle the problem, the truth needs to be out: Spotify pay millions in royalties to the labels – the labels keep most of this revenue and only pay a tiny percentage to the artists. This is why the major labels are still alive but artists are struggling. Spotify have a on-disclosure agreement so they can’t divert blame away from themselves.

    The main cause of the demise of the industry isn’t this though, it’s mainly illegal downloads. Lack of income means A&R get fired very easily, so they tend to side with middle of the road ‘heard it before’ acts. This saturates the market with generic rubbish that doesn’t really make an impact.

    The 2nd main cause of demise are the morons at BBC Radio 1. They have the most pathetic policies, for example:

    If Radio 1 on’t support you from your first song, they will never play you. Ever.

    If your song doesn’t get ‘shazaamed’ Nigel won’t let it go up the playlist. Sucks if you have a really obvious title.

    Radio 1 won’t play 2 bands that are similar in the interest of promoting “new music” BUT they will play dance tracks that all sound pretty much the same.

    We need an integrated system with mainstream radio where they agree they have a responsibility to showcase a variety of genres. This needs to be done during daytimes, not just at 3am on a tuesday night.

  47. Sven

    Great list, I found your site after I saw Youtube’s Music Awards, and they didn’t have a single song with a traditional instrument with it, every song was sequence, auto tuned vocals, mainly rap, R and B pop music (that is one phrase) It made me sick, like I have bitched about the internet and how since it came in, radio rights didn’t apply, which was complete bs to start, that directly stole and governments did nothing. Here I was hoping that over time the internet would get more sanctions on it to compensate the artist, through some small bills and whatnot, monotization, people started getting a bit back, but only a bit. I see now Youtube pushing over produced crap calling it a musician award for people that sequence and auto tune vocals. I have been playing guitar for over 20 years, I have developed an actual musical skill, and I am not the only person, this in itself spits in the faces of every person who took a music lesson, who went to music class, who sat in their rooms learning how to play an instrument, that vocalist that wanted to be an opera singer, Youtube and the industry is killing us. To end this I came to 1 conclusion, I can probably make more money playing at the side of the street in a busy city in 1 day than I could all years online. (PS Looking into a Toronto permit)

  48. Freedom88

    From what I hear most of the (popular) music today has no value musical anyway. Where are the real artists? There is no great musicians anymore. Only entertainers with silicon injections shaking their booty. You have to go underground to get any real music.

  49. Anonymous

    bottom line…the internet and digitizing of music is the major down fall of the industry..

  50. Darren

    For 10’s of thousands of years, the only way to hear music was live, often from travelling musicians. The only income these musicians earned was from tips, admission fees, sales of wares or if they were lucky, they could gain support from a wealthy patron. For most of human history, musicians were not wealthy people. Then in the mid 1800’s the record was invented. The “record industry” (records, tapes,CD’s) lasted for about 150 years (till circa.2000 A.D.). During that time, people could purchase an analog (and eventually digital) recording and with the appropriate device, they could play the music they wanted, on demand. Prior to the 1950’s musicians were mostly poor and only known locally. It was only with the creation of the ‘Star’ system with artists like Elvis that the musicians and the industry began to make real money. This is the system we were all born into. This is the system we know.This system has lasted for about 60 years but unfortunately, it is now collapsing and in fact will most likely evolve into something unrecognizable from it’s present incarnation. Now, because of digital technology, playing the music you want on demand, is mostly free, so selling those objects – records, tapes and CD’s – is irrelevant. I believe there is still plenty of money to be made in the music industry. If people like your music…they will find you. If you are good at it, they will support you. For thousands of years, the only way to make money in music was to perform live…it’s kind that way again.

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  52. Rackspace

    It’s deadly, don’t kid yourself. Too many creative types who will work for free, or even pay to work. It’s a game of names, who do you know and what do you have. Example, you may be capable to build a great sound system so you can travel about and always know you will sound great. It is so clean it squeaks and you did it on a budget, good job! (you think). Then to get a job a non-knowledgeable person asks you the brand names of the equipment. They are not impressed because you are smart and thrifty, they only want to hear high-end names come out of your mouth. This isn’t just on the live-mix end, this is on the performer equipment too. The judgement isn’t fair, smart or sensible but they don’t care. This is why fast money gets mixed up in music so often, because the cost to pull it off is outrageous. And for those who think they’ll be discovered these days online? Get a foil hat. Before the www it was damn near impossible, cutthroat, and the competition was paltry by comparison. You’ll have far better odds buying lotto tickets. Don’t get sucked into the emotional addiction of the music business, (it’s easy to do). This is reality and wisdom speaking. I never said not to have fun or put stuff up online, just don’t get caught in the fantasy. Don’t agree?, then get going. Call me when you made it big.

  53. DartFather

    The internet has messed-up music industry, thanks to Tim Berners Lee, the inventor of http, he is the only one who should responsible to figure it out.

  54. Audiophile

    Popular music these days bears little resemblance to tunefulness or musicality. It really is disposable trash in most cases. i don’t listen to it unless it’s being sprayed at me in a shopping centre or other public place. I paid $27 AU for a digital download yesterday through a reputable on-line shop for an album I’ve always wanted to own. An album which is hard to find on CD or vinyl these days. I got it at very high digital resolution to best resemble it’s original sound when it was produced. I don’t mind paying decent money for decent music when I know the quality is at least as good as a CD, preferably better. The industry has to stop promoting the newest, prettiest faces who can sing anything with a bit of technological help, dumping them as soon as they look like the next song might not sell 5,000 copies. They need to get back to investing in real musicians and song writers. Make it meaningful again and be in it for the long haul. There are just too many people looking for instant profits cheapening the whole endeavour. It used to be about art, and the process of creating it was the important part, generating a worthwhile product that people revered and aspired to. Now it’s about who looks the best with their shirt off while dancing, surrounded by a bunch of bikini clad poppers and miming to an auto-tune machine. There’s no real music in there and without music where are the singers? It’s Karaoke on grand scale and I hate it.