Monday, November 19, 2012

Music streaming income away from musicians

Via:  Spotify and Pandora exist not to help musicians but only to make their founders rich by fleecing greedy venture capitalists and speculative investors.  Money quotes:

Damon Krukowski of Galaxie 500 and Damon & Naomi breaks down the meager royalties currently being paid out to bands by streaming services and explains what the music business' headlong quest for capital means for artists today.

"Galaxie 500's 'Tugboat' was played 7,800 times on Pandora in the first quarter of 2012, for which its three songwriters were paid a collective total of 21 cents, or seven cents each."

"When I started making records, the model of economic exchange was simple; now, it seems closer to financial speculation."

But here's the rub: Pandora and Spotify are not earning any income from their services, either. In the first quarter of 2012, Pandora-- the same company that paid Galaxie 500 a total of $1.21 for their use of "Tugboat"-- reported a net loss of more than $20 million dollars. As for Spotify, their latest annual report revealed a loss in 2011 of $56 million.

Leaving aside why these companies are bothering to chisel hundredths of a cent from already ridiculously low "royalties," or paying lobbyists to work a bill through Congress that would lower those rates even further-- let's instead ask a question they themselves might consider relevant: Why are they in business at all?

"Pandora and Spotify are doing nothing for the business of music-- except undermining the simple cottage industry of pressing ideas onto vinyl, and selling them for more than they cost to manufacture."

The answer is capital, which is what Pandora and Spotify have and what they generate. These aren't record companies-- they don't make records, or anything else; apparently not even income. They exist to attract speculative capital. And for those who have a claim to ownership of that capital, they are earning millions-- in 2012, Pandora's executives sold $63 million of personal stock in the company. Or as Spotify's CEO Daniel Ek has put it, "The question of when we'll be profitable actually feels irrelevant. Our focus is all on growth. That is priority one, two, three, four and five."

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