The Music Industry Has 99 Problems. And They Are…

The Music Industry Has 99 Problems...
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Recording Devaluation Problems.

1. The value of the music recording is plunging, and has been for more than a decade.  Across the board, artists are experiencing serious problems monetizing their audio releases.

2. A decade-long decline in recording revenues has dismantled the label system, once the most reliable form of artist financing.  That includes both independent and major labels, once the core of the music industry ecosystem.

3. That introduces fan-funding platforms like Kickstarter, Pledgemusic, and Patreon, all of whom have admirably filled some of that lost financing but haven’t come close to matching the overall funding source.  Moreover, crowdfunding success stories like Amanda Palmer are sometimes viewed as anomalies, especially given the initial investment in her career by a major label.

4. Streaming continues to explode, but not enough to compensate for broader declines in physical CDs and paid downloads.  The overall result is a music industry revenue decline.

5. Even worse, the technological evolution of formats keeps pushing the value of the recording downward.  With every subsequent format, monetization deteriorates: streaming pays less than downloads; downloads paid less than CDs.

6. There is little evidence to suggest that this downfall is being made up by touring, merchandising, or other non-recording activities like ‘experiences’ (see below).  In fact, many argue that artists are being forced into unsustainably long tours, or touring virtually non-stop just to survive.

7. Other attempts to make up the lost revenue have fallen short.  BandPage, a pioneer in trying to monetize artist ‘experiences’ to help make up for lost recording revenues, was unable to scale that alternate revenue source substantially enough. After many years and considerable investment, BandPage was sold at a heavy loss to YouTube.

8. That introduces a number of problems, including artist burnout and an increased risk of accidents while on the road.  According to NYU songwriting professor Mike Errico, the artist injury list is soaring, with Dave Grohl, Sam Smith, Miranda Lambert, Steve Aoki, Little Big Town, Meghan Trainor, Nickelback, the Black Keys and Kelly Clarkson all suffering physical, tour-related setbacks.

9. Streaming is rapidly becoming the dominant form of music consumption, though it is now widely viewed as a cashless loss-leader for artists and songwriters.

10. A big part of the problem is that 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.

11. On top of all that, the largest streaming platform in the world, Google-owned YouTube, doesn’t think that music devaluation is even possible.  “It’s amazing how often people invoke that word ‘devalue’ as if it means something,” Google executive Tim Quirk said in 2014.  “It doesn’t. You know why?  Because you can’t devalue music. It’s impossible. Songs are not worth exactly 99 cents and albums are not worth precisely $9.99.”

12. Even worse, some major label artists are receiving nothing at all from streaming, even with extremely high play counts.  That is the case for Lady Gaga, whose manager Troy Carter says Universal Music Group paid the singer nothing despite millions and millions of streams on platforms like Spotify.

13. Worsening the situation is a circular ‘blame game’ between streaming giants and labels, with artists ultimately shorted.  Spotify says they pay the labels, though this is 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 an artist) reasons.

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

15. Strategies to recover recording revenues at labels often backfire.  A once-promising shift towards 360-degree models never quite generated enough money for the major labels, even though these labels generally insist on broader rights deals with all new artists.

Album Problems.

16. The album collapse has caused a massive revenue drop for both labels and artists.  The reason is that fans, if they’re even purchasing anything, are no longer ‘buying the bundle,’ or collection of songs.  That’s great for cherry-picking consumers, but often leaves artists unable to recoup their costs or make a decent living.

17. Perhaps more importantly, that bundled product has not been replaced, despite endless attempts to package other items together.  Post-album, artists and labels have failed to establish a lucrative, reliable bundle to monetize their recordings.

18. Even success stories like Adele, whose ’25’ is now approaching 10 million albums sold, are viewed as being potentially damaging to artists and the broader industry.  The reason is that Adele’s ‘unicorn’ success could cause smaller artists and independent labels to strategize around a format that is largely dying.

19. The homemade, CD-burned album, once a huge revenue-generator for smaller touring artists at merch tables, has now dropped to zero.  That has put more pressure on artists to sell other merchandise like t-shirts, while decreasing available cash for touring essentials like gas and food.

20. Many music enthusiasts have argued that the decline of the album has decreased music appreciation and focus.  Gone are the days of dedicated listening, fabulous album artwork, and defined ‘opuses’ that defined a previous musical generation.

Certification and Award Problems.

21. The music industry is currently battling over how to count sales.  In a recent episode, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified Rihanna’s ‘Anti’ as Platinum after its first week, signifying one million album sales.  Yet Billboard and its data-tracking partner, Nielsen, only counted 460 copies during the same period.

22. Separately, a strikingly large number of important artists have never been awarded a Grammy, including Snoop Dogg, Bob Marley, Guns n’ Roses, KISS, and Morrissey.  And those are just a few of the artists never handed an award.

Vinyl Problems.

23. Vinyl LP sales are surging year-over-year, but still represent a tiny fraction of recordings purchased.

24. The production infrastructure around vinyl continues to ramp up slowly, and producing vinyl can be incredibly difficult and time-consuming for artists and labels.

25. Most pressing facilities are using decades-old equipment, though investors are fearful of investing in vinyl machines and infrastructure because it might be a fad.  All of that is stunting vinyl’s growth.

 Streaming Problems.

26. The leading streaming music companies — YouTube/Google, Spotify, SoundCloud, Apple and others — have been routinely accused of treating artists poorly through duplicitous contract structures, low payments, or complete non-payments.

27.  That has created a low-trust environment, and confused fans over who to support.  Just last summer, Taylor Swift battled Apple in a very public manner over royalty concerns; Apple eventually conceded, though streaming platforms are often painted as anti-artist.

28. Compounding the problem is that streaming services like Spotify offer very little reliable guidance on their payout structures.  Artists have very little idea of (a) what they’re being paid, and (b) what they should be getting paid.

29. Against that confusion, companies like Spotify have been accused of deliberately creating complicated payout structures to hopelessly confuse artists and rights owners.

30. Even worse, Spotify is suspected of completely fabricating and/or over-stating its per-stream payout structure, based on discrepancies with extremely low rates published by actual artists (usually on Digital Music News, here, here, and here.)  This issue has not been roundly addressed by Spotify, which has created an even lower-trust environment with many artists and independent labels.

31. 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 above).

32. Companies like Spotify have pointed to royalty increases with scale and greater user levels, though critics like David Lowery have pointed to persistent declines in streaming royalty rates.

33. Meanwhile, services like Spotify have refused to abandon their ad-supported tiers, despite strong progress by premium-only services like Apple Music and Tidal.  That makes it harder to elevate streaming royalty rates.

34. YouTube, the largest online platform for consuming music, is notorious for low-paying, ad-based royalties, with little signs of improvement.

35. Compounding the situation are ad-blockers, a major threat to YouTube’s ad-supported revenue stream.  Similar add-ons exist for services like Spotify.

36. That is one motivation for YouTube Red, a premium video offering, but currently, the service doesn’t offer any music videos.

37. Streaming is surging, but its royalty payouts are low and cannibalistic towards other, more lucrative formats.  Which is why artists like Adele 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.

38. Many artists feel that the priorities of streaming services like Spotify skew towards acquisitions, IPOs, and other liquidation events, not towards the interests of content holders and artists.  Heightening those concerns are the involvement of investors like Goldman Sachs, a major Spotify stakeholder.

39. 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), but many artists have built-in contractual stipulations excluding them from receiving any proceeds from acquisitions, IPOs, or other liquidation events.

40.  Even worse than than, major labels have been shown to pay nothing from these cash-out windfalls to their artists.  Just recently, Warner Music Group changed course and offered to change that practice, though skeptics pointed to a lack of concrete plans.

DMCA Takedown Problems

41. 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.

42. Google, the most influential company in the music industry, is actively resisting any efforts to reduce piracy across its key platforms, Search and YouTube.  Despite millions upon millions of DMCA-ordered takedowns, often of the same content, Google has flatly refused to adopt ‘take down, stay down’ approaches.

43. Google may also be accelerating 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.

44. Others, like Comcast, have blatantly abused the DMCA to temporarily remove high-paying, infringing subscribers before reinstating them shortly thereafter.

45.  Others, like SoundCloud, have built entire business on DMCA-based takedowns.  SoundCloud, now one of the largest music websites in the world, has been subject to massive content takedowns by major labels.

46. Even worse, bad actors like Grooveshark have directly abused the DMCA to build massively infringing platforms while collecting millions in ad revenue.

47. Meanwhile, the music industry expends massive resources issuing DMCA takedown requests, even for sites that have already published thousands of infringing links in the past.

48. That points to a desperately needed change in law, though efforts to advance ‘take down, stay down’ legislation remain slow and out-lobbied.

Piracy Problems.

49. Artists live under the constant threat of leaks, especially popular artists.  Artists are typically forced to publish their songs immediately, even if they’d prefer to wait.

50. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, multiple research reports show that BitTorrent piracy rates continue to increase.

51. Perhaps more troubling for the music industry is the rise of BitTorrent-based streaming platforms, including a recent entrance by the Pirate Bay.

52. If an artist restricts content in any fashion, piracy typically increases in response.  That was a lesson just learned by Kanye West, whose decision to restrict his music to Tidal resulted in a BitTorrent surge.

53. Major labels are now locked in an endless game of ‘whack-a-mole,’ with smashed sites like Grooveshark continuously popping up in new places (for example,  Others, like the Pirate Bay, refuse to die, while replacements like Kickass Torrents quickly fill the void.

Music Format Problems.

54. Thanks to breakneck technological evolution, the music industry is now managing a portfolio of different formats that all reach different audiences and pay out differently.  That has caused the industry to consider a shift towards format windowing, despite major issues with piracy (just ask Kanye).

55. Meanwhile, paid downloads are plunging, with massive declines expected this year.  That is bad news for artists and labels, given that the payouts on downloads are far higher than streaming (thanks to an upfront payment and more predictable revenue cut).

Massive Media Overload Problems.

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

57. The artist has greater and more direct access to fans than ever before in history.  Unfortunately, so do millions of other artists, a situation that often causes fans to listen to less music.

58. 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.  And, keep them around.

59. This also puts pressure on the artist to shorten the release cycle, and pump out content at a quick pace.  Even at the expense of quality.

Facebook Problems.

60. 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, but never materialized as such.

61. Even worse, Facebook charges artists to reach their own fans, a move it defends as necessary given massive increases in Timeline posts that are overwhelming users.  That leaves artists with another difficult decision as to how to cut through all that noise, with frustration over why they’re having to pay at all.

62. Facebook has largely been abandoned by teens (and others), creating a partial fan-connection solution for artists.  BandPage, a company that attempted to address this issue with a mass-site distribution platform, has been sold to YouTube.

Artist Survival Problems.

63. 99+% of all artists cannot make a living wage off of their music, based on stats gleaned from leading digital distributors.

64. In fact, former member of Cracker and current artist activist David Lowery 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.

65. 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, figuring out online sales strategies, and fixing broken-down vans.

66. 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.

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

68. 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.

69. Musicians remain resistant to growing revenues available from cover gigs, like weddings, bar mitzvahs, and parties (though this is starting to change with services like GigSalad).

70. Many older artists are touring just to pay the bills, including medical bills.  That includes Dick Dale, who remains on the road despite his advanced age to pay for treatment for rectal cancer, renal failure, and massive vertebrae damage.

Environmental Problems.

71. Vinyl, like other higher-paying physical formats, are bad for the environment.  That also goes for other revenue-generators like t-shirts and merchandise.

72. 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.

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

Record Store Problems.

74. Traditional record stores have largely imploded, with holdouts like Amoeba now relics of an earlier era.  A greater appetite for vinyl could reverse that, though it’s still too early to tell. 

75. Record Store Day (RSD) 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.

76. Either way, the biggest CD releases from the biggest stars always go to the biggest brick-n-mortar stores: Target, Best Buy, or Walmart.  That helps the artist and the mega-retailer, but could be harming the industry.

77. The reasons is that 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.

Executive ‘Brain Drain’ Problems.

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

79. Established music companies often overpay their failing 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 multi-million dollar salaries at Warner Music Group, Live Nation, Sony Music Entertainment, and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), among others.

80.  That makes it impossible to attract innovative superstars with competitive packages, especially with top-line revenues continuing to fall.

81. But even innovative executives like Rob Wells can find themselves forced out for advancing more forward-leaning approaches.  That suggests an older boys’ club that refuses to accept fresh, younger approaches.

82. And even outside of pay, younger people are generally not interested in working at labels or in the traditional music industry anymore, which makes it even more difficult for more older companies to innovate.

83. One result is that very little innovation actually comes from inside the industry.  Instead, it is now dictated by non-industry players like Google, Facebook, YouTube, and Apple.

Indie Label Problems.

84. 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.

85. Those problems are expected to magnify with ongoing download sales declines, a critical revenue source for indie labels.

Live Concert Problems.

86. A large percentage of live music fans are frustrated with high ticket prices at concerts, not to mention wildly overpriced, in-venue items like beer.

87. 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).

88. Older, arena-filling artists are starting to die.

89. Concert security has now become a major concern in the wake of the Bataclan attacks.  That can increase the cost of putting on a show, especially for targeted, high-profile artists (like Bob Dylan).

90. 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, and Pomplamoose, who found the financials of touring to be extremely challenging.

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

92. Fans frequently miss shows from their favorite artists, even when these artists roll into their hometowns (though this is being addressed by fresh players like Magnifi).

93. Meanwhile, service fees continue to outrage fans, even though artist guarantees and advances are often a culprit (then again, Stubhub recently found that ‘all in pricing’ led to fewer sales.)

Songwriter Problems

94. Songwriters are often paid pennies for successful tracks, even top-charting songs on major streaming and internet radio platforms.  In the latest episode, it was revealed that Kevin Kadish, writer of the smash hit ‘All About That Bass’ by Megan Trainor, made just $5,679 for 178 million streams.

95. Lower royalties are killing an entire generation of writers: according to one report, Nashville has lost more than 80 percent of its songwriters since 2000.

96. Songwriters (and publishers) often have little negotiating power, thanks to government-mandated, compulsory royalty rates for platforms like internet radio, in-store performances, and covers.

97. Even worse for songwriters is that performing artists often force themselves onto the list of writers to increase their royalties, even if they didn’t write a note or lyric.

98. Meanwhile, the threat of accidental plagiarism is increasing, thanks to a hyper-connected creative world and the high likelihood of two writers composing something extremely similar.

Classical Music Problems.

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


Got more problems?  Add them below.

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


35 Responses

  1. Remi Swierczek

    All those problems can be resolved by Discovery Moment Media Monetization.
    $200B music industry by 2025.
    Google just has to be enlighten and agree to get more income from music and than digital ads. Music on proper game board is much bigger than digital advertising.

  2. Irving Mindreader

    Two quick points.


    Without question, if the next thing after streaming is yet another audio-only format. The consumer has voted. It’s innovate or die.


    Now, I’m a fan and had friends in that camp, but BandPage self-imposed unnecessarily low revenues by refusing to sell advertising. Ironic, given that ads are (and certainly will continue to be) core revenue at YouTube.

    Perhaps if they had embraced advertising sooner, on their own terms, they’d still be in control of their own destiny and investors would have had a shot at better ROI.

    IMHO, this industry won’t and can’t escape advertising revenue until (if and when) it figures out how to make music transactional again.

    All the same, much love to J and his team.

  3. Irving Mindreader

    Paul – your comment section needs to support better formatting. Either basic html or buttons for bold, itals, quotes, etc. Thx. -IM

  4. Anonymous

    Pretty good summary of the situation . Bleak but realistic. Apart from massive adoption of paid only streaming ( not ideal but the only realistic short term solution), i really don’t see any solutions.

    • Jane

      Given that NO artist or songwriter is happy about what Spotify, et al (& their major label buddies) pay out on a stream, there’s gonna be a revolution coming. This situation can’t continue. I now wonder if artists tied to any of these major labels have been advised not to speak out. Wouldn’t surprise me at all.

  5. Versus

    This needs concerted, international legal reform and enforcement. Piracy is the #1 problem, which enables the devaluation and underpaying of all new formats, like streaming and freemium.

    It can be tracked and fought, like other forms of illegal “sharing”, but there is apparently no will or spine to do so.

  6. sid

    if no one wants to buy your product , well thats not the consumers fault , perhaps you should produce something people want to buy .
    downloading is common place , didnt stop star wars making more money than god .
    doesnt stop the latest boy band from selling millions .

    dont blame the customer for not wanting to buy what you have to sell.

    • Versus

      No one is blaming the consumer for that. They are blaming them for stealing it instead of buying it.

      Clearly there is demand for the product; people listen to music more than ever.

      If you want a product, then pay for it. If you don’t want to pay for it, then do without it. It’s a very simple law of a civilized transactional society.

    • Harrison Fine

      A song is 3min. A movie is 2hrs. It’s easier to quantify stealing a 3min audio clip than it is spending $15 to go see a movie on a large screen. It’s the music model which is broken. Music is battling all art formats thanks to the internet. A few examples of time-consumption are YouTube, Netflix, and like he said, porn. We live in a very visual world which resonates with streaming revenues and downloading rates. The consumer just can’t find enough reason to spend $10 on 30min of regurgitated music when it’s available in our homes for free.

  7. lane

    How to solve the problem(s):
    1) Stop making music videos, what’s the point? people will just rip them to a mp3 file illegally. Music videos don’t work in selling records anymore, it’s doing the complete opposite.
    2) Stop putting music on spotify/youtube/and other streaming formats

    The labels/musicians are in control of how the music goes out in the market not the consumer, time to smarten up and protect the most popular art form.

    Also, vinyl will do good for the industry but only for real artists.

    P.s. youtube blows

    • himanshu

      Thats what taylor swift and adele are doing, they pulled off their album from Spotify, but still TS makes videos, and adele don’t. So other artists need to learn from Adele but they think that their songs can’t reach Hot 100 without Youtube or Spotify, that’s the problem

    • Versus

      One possible compromise for music videos, against the ripping problem:
      – only make partial music videos (which only include part of the song)
      – put dialogue or interruptions within the video

    • Harrison Fine

      Music is now a product that is sold on the same shelf as Netflix, YouTube, and anything else found on the internet – social media, Reddit, Instagram. Our industry must compete with visual-friendly alternatives for a piece of the pie – thanks to the digitization of art and media. Consumers would rather spend their time elsewhere and download/stream music for free. Unless we can find a way to strengthen the product sold, no matter what trickery we choose to partake in, consumers are going to choose alternative entertainment sources.

    • Frank the Pank

      Well I still buy a lot of CDs per month… do you think I buy something I could not listen to first?! Got real artists but I would never buy their Flintstone formats but their CDs! Vinyl sucks!

  8. Versus

    Maybe the industry (or subsets of the industry, like consortiums of artists or indie labels) have to launch their own distribution platforms.

    One might say Tidal is such an attempt.

    However, this approach will only work if there is the legal and technical infrastructure in place to block all that content from the other thieves, like YouTube, pirate sites, etc. This should be technically and legally possible, but for some reason is not being pursued.

  9. Max

    The only solution I see. Have a central database with all metadata attached to a song (that is unbreakable like Bitcoin) and then regardless of what paywall or where you get a download the ISP’s pay a royalty like how Spotify or content id works on YouTube.

  10. Jim Preen

    1. People don’t value what they don’t pay for.
    2. The music business has been unable to find a way to package music so that it can be given as an appealing gift. We used to give albums to each other; hardly replaced by an iTunes gift voucher.

  11. LB

    Though royalties were touched on, I was a bit surprised not to see ASCAP, BMI, and SESAC addressed specifically in this article. They certainly have an unbalanced calculation in how they pay artists on their rolls, ditto to how they assess license fees to venues and establishments that have music.

    From a beginning/becoming established artist’s perspective they are a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” join proposition.

  12. Rae

    Very extensive article,thanks.

    So in many ways it’s a self service kind of thing that has evolved,where artists have taken on doing everything which they once signed away for and expected to come . Listeners find their own way to listen and participate in the careers of artists they enjoy.

    The part about being able to reach more listeners, and by default so can any other artist- it rings a bell connected to our society’s obsession with accumulation for accumulation’a sake, and how desensitized we get (there is only so much time in a day) .The article goes on to say how it means people end up listening to a lot more music in passing …

    I’ll try to elaborate about that in this scenario:
    (This is not every artist, obviously )

    why do you (the artist)simply want more listeners and prioritize the temporary aquisition of new ears (in let’s say, Cambodia) instead of make efforts to keep a pool of listeners (in Brooklyn) close. An example of this is when you don’t do your local fans the courtesy of adequately promoting your shows/appearances in a timely fashion in a uniform way(all social media). The intl listener wasn’t going to get this experience anyway, and the people in the area work with schedules just like you do. Folks need time to know about your sh!t.Less people know about your show= less money

    Since the labels and the streaming service screw you out, don’t screw yourself out of paying gigs and door sales.

    There is so much to be done! But this is something no artist should sleep on!!

    This would mean that Every time you (the artist) have a show, it’s a mix of whoever was personally invited, whoever saw your late ass post and scrambled to make it , and new people who found you at the right place and the right time. They love you and join your mailing list/social media that u never use. Then when you got wrapped up and lost sight of announcing your show that’s tonight or tomorrow, all those ppl who have accumulated on your list say “hey sorry I can’t make it”. Sure u understand, but that slowly diminishes your feeling of being supported or your sense of real connection with people that u have already met. It’s discouraging for the artist and the fans.

    I’m a listener and supporter of live local music. I go to venues and discover…When I discover artists that i would like to support, then I make efforts to see them when my life my obligations allow. But lately I’m frustrated by this last minute behavior and lose interest in trying to catch them. I’m turned off to the music because of my impression of the artist.This makes me a “right place right time” consumer by default and I prefer it to keep all that frustration out.

    In closing:
    Be real with the people around you, and work your way outwards.

  13. J.Fuller

    Paul, I like your take on the industry and a lot of it is spot on! We at MAX are trying to help right the industry with a couple of win-wins….check us out: There is real opportunity to help a lot of artists who need exposure and companies that need the authentic content they provide. This idea was born out of trying to get more good music into the hands of more people! We were also just featured in the International Business Times if you want to check this out as well….explains a lot and gives some history of the industry as well – Thanks again for the article!

  14. Steve York

    Pirate radio in the the UK was wiped out in the 70’s by legislation that made it illegal to advertise on the stations. Music pirate sites could be severely curtailed if governments took action against companies that buy advertising on them. And trying to track music usage on youtube is currently next to impossible! Additionally , the qualities of the mp3 format have dumbed down music by removing the subtle touches that define great musicians!

  15. Nicky Knight

    Pirate Radio from ships was largely eradicated but land based pirate radio stations are all over London, FM is full of pirates.

    Anyway, back to music business… iTunes is the only platform where artists can and do make money.. streaming is simply promotion and you have to think carefully about the blurred line between promotion and free access to music.

    In many cases it’s probably better to be ex all streaming platforms including YouTube because that’s where all the people go who can hear the hits for free and so why them..

    iTunes has saved the independent labels and remains the only real income machine for artists, indy labels, producers etc..

  16. Mike

    I propose a fairly easy solution to the problem of Artists not getting their fair share, in my utopian world. Artist records song, charges 10 cents for every play in the world, no matter what the format. Lawyers from Recording industry and government ensure everyone complies and shuts down anyone who doesn’t. Artist gets paid. The End.

  17. Krackonis

    Sorry but copyright laws states that I am allowed to experience culture without paying for it. If you send it out around the world you are allowed to see or hear it. Copyright means that I cannot make money off of others work… However, I am able to watch and listen to anything I want as long as i don’t sell it…

    How is that the fault of people who make crap and expect us to pay for it? Big Media wants the money, the artists don’t get it unless we go to their concerts and so forth. This is how I support my artists… I don’t have any compunction to pay for something which I have the mental knowledge to find for free.

    And I downloaded Star Wars…. And ended up watching it in the theatre… You know I can get the original despecialized versions of these movies too, but not from “the store”… I have to go to other fans…. The community we have is much better than the noncommunity of commericialism.

    • Michael R Cossey

      I’ve read your article and tho I am “nothing ” to the music industry as I write songs for personal therapy, and rarely listen to music at home. The wife has subscribed to XM for our vehicles. I am also a child of the vinyl era….One main reason IMHO for the problems in the music industry and their finances is that their is MUCH less disposable income these day as there was in my “youth” and with the internet…..streaming etc as which was very well stated in the article I see no happy satisfying outcome to all the woes in the industry. If the music industry wants to HELP their own cause they need to HELP increase the Wages of the working poor . I know the problem is much deeper than that alone but it would be a start ! I have made poverty wages my whole life (59 now) but in my youth I found the means to buy albums. Now I could not afford my music addiction today as far as buying CD’s I do buy merch. for my Fav. bands of my era….and their independent releases….. I see either a collapse of the industry and a “start from scratch” approach. and or learning to live on 35 to 55 thousand a year as I have learned to live with 20 at my slave labor jobs which included an 8 year stent in the USAF…I hope this doesn’t sound like a angry letter, it is not meant to be ! I LOVE music mine and others and which I could support artists more substantially, but if I do not have the disposable income as a deep music lover how could the majority of the youth today ? and when they do find some..if they are like my 20 year old sons, it goes to video games not music, tho they occasionally do my a CD…..

      Thanks for listen to my ramblings………..
      Michael R Cossey

  18. all about that accuracy

    all about that bass has two songwriters and three publishers

  19. Tripp Fell

    Are you out of your mind? “The DMCA, once considered a reasonable method for flagging and removing infringing content…” That’s absurd. That NEVER happened. “…..while protecting online companies from liability…” A-ha! Yes, that’s it! The DMCA was created by the tech industry, and funded by the tech industry, FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE TECH INDUSTRY. It is, hands down, the single most culpable reason why the music industry is in the toilet. The safe harbor provisions of the DMCA have allowed tech companies like YouTube to KNOWINGLY profit from the wholesale theft of copyright. It is also the reason why so many pirate websites were created and allowed to continue operating. AND it is the real reason why streaming has established such a foothold in the music business. Back in the Napster days, it was often said (by the tech industry of course) that online piracy is out of control because there’s no legal alternative to purchase music online. So then came iTunes (and all its competitors) to save the day BUT also to set download price points via the infamous “deal with us or be subjected to more theft” rationale (made possible only because of the existence of the DMCA). And what happened? Yes, digital sales of music exploded but only at the expense of CDs: physical dollars turned into digital dimes. And what else happened? PIRACY GOT EVEN BIGGER. The entire rationale for iTunes existence falls apart. Then, streaming comes along to save the day BUT also to set OBSCENELY LOW streaming price points, which once again was made possible via the infamous “deal with us or be subjected to more theft” rationale enabled by the DMCA. Streaming explodes but only at the expense of downloads: digital dimes now become streaming pennies (fractions thereof). And what else happened? piracy got EVEN BIGGER! So about that DMCA? Let’s see, it directly created (1) multi-billion dollar copyright theft companies (like YouTube) at the expense of the music business; (2) digital retailers (like iTunes), with no reduction in online piracy but yet more reduction in music industry revenues, and (3) streaming companies like Spotify, with no reduction in online piracy yet even more reduction in music industry revenues. Directly because of the DMCA, the tech companies are making billions and the music industry is basically a lemonade stand on the corner.