Music business shifting to dirt cheap streaming

Discussion in 'Music Business' started by Dr_Willie_OBGYN, Jan 11, 2017.

  1. Dr_Willie_OBGYN

    Dr_Willie_OBGYN Active Member

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    https://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/25/...eady-but-lucrative-cd-sales-decline.html?_r=0
    Record companies are now fighting for PENNIES of revenue from streaming sites. Album, single, and CD sales still going down. I can totally relate. My CD and digital album sales from 10 years ago have been essentially replaced by Pandora radio royalties.

    I refuse to put my content on these on-demand streaming sites that pay about a pathetic 1 cent per track. Why anyone would allow their tracks to be just about GIVEN away for 1 cent is beyond me. You mean to tell me that 1 out of those 100 consumers who streams a track wouldn't BUY it if it wasn't available for on-demand streaming? I think on-demand streaming cannibalizes digital album and CD sales.

    I do post a few tracks on YouTube but only as promotion for my entire albums.
     
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  2. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    I agree with you Doc. Unfortunately, I don't know what difference we can make. Keep fighting the good fight.

    There are some interesting / depressing Ted Talks on the topic.

     
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  3. Dr_Willie_OBGYN

    Dr_Willie_OBGYN Active Member

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    We can boycott Spotify and the long list of other similar on-demand streaming sites. Unless you're struggling and in need of promotion I don't know why anyone would give away their songs for 4 tenths of 1 cent.
     
  4. Makzimia

    Makzimia The Minstrel Well-Known Member

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    Really, really hate to say it, but...

    For everyone that wants to hold on to the way it was, there are 10,000 who don't care and want in for free or otherwise. I've said it before, if you want to be remotely relevant anymore, it means getting back out onto the coal face, live music boys and girls. The internet is here, and it's here to stay, add the attitude around music recordings etc, and you are not going to win.

    My .02 fwiw

    Tony
     
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  5. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    I agree with you 100%. It's sad, but, the tech isn't going to go backwards.

    And there is not anything you as music makers can do about it....separately. A union, would be the only way. Separately, you are all simply drops in a bucket. Together, you make waves.

    The people on the sales side of it, the labels, the marketing people etc....they have the power to change things. It would be difficult, very difficult. But they are the ones writing the deals.

    The problem is once one company, i.e. Pandora, gets into something like this, and people sell out...there is an almost instant drop in the marketable price for this product. And now you have iTunes, Iheartradio, Pandora, Spotify....it's too far gone. And now, if you don't participate, you are foregoing having a presence in the largest growing market.

    In one of my biz, we did floor stripping and waxing. And then there was a huge influx of people doing the same work. Everyone stepping on each other for a lower price. I saw quotes, in writing, in which after costs, you would make $4 (four!) an hour. And companies are calling me in, to come and beat it. I got out of that biz. Unfortunately, in this industry, you have way too many years to just drop it and pick up something else.

    I sincerely feel for you guys who make a living at this. Not only do I feel for you, but imo, it has had a major deleterious effect on the quality of the music.

    If the music reps won't do it for you, the only other non-violent way to change it, is with a union.

    Maybe there already is one, I don't know. I just submit to Broadjam and occasionally get lucky.
     
  6. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    We have many posts like this lately and I have mixed feelings about this.
    First, like many I noticed the changes, the CD sells are down and almost everybody I meet uses some kind of free or paying streaming or even stolen mp3.
    But the degradation of the music industry didn't start with the internet. At some point having a band live was an attraction and people would happily pay cover-charge to get in many venue. Back in 1990. there was 3 defined circuits (as we called it here),
    1. Small bars where you could find semi-pro bands where payed between 800 - 1500$ for 2 days. They were self booked or by small agencies.
    2. Medium to large bars would pay between 1500 and 3500$ for pro musician doing covers and a bit of original material. Small to medium agencies
    3. Private halls and theators where you could go see a show of your favorite artist. Payed per seats !
    Around 2000, the bars started to hire more karaoke acts and DJs and they hardly paid more than 800$ for a full band of 5 - 8 musicians. The medium circuit disapeared.
    Another hard hit on the bars was when the anti-smoking law was adopted.

    Nowaday, the medias make you believe anybody could be a star. It seems so easy, why would you pay hard money for it ? So 99 % of my Facebook music contacts resorb to publishing very cheap IPhone videos in their livingroom and it makes me sick !!!

    I thinks it's up to us, in respect to our own art and passion to go the extra mile and continu to produce quality music. Some vinyl are starting to sell again, could it be a new path to explore ?
     
  7. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    That part of it is.

    What is not up to you is how much you are offered for your music, because you have a market to compete against. And if that market is selling at tenths of a penny, well, that's hard to beat.

    It's a business like any other. A lot of USA fashion companies have their stuff made overseas, bc it's cheaper. For the company, and the consumer. The co makes a larger profit, and bc of the reduced price, they also sell more units. Spotify et al, is simply the music industries version of sweat shops.
     
  8. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    Well I doubt recording an album overseas would be cheaper than in my own studio... just teasing ;)
     
  9. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

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    I was idly looking round a car showroom last weekend, and was surprised to note that many new car models were not fitted with CD players, let alone the 6-CD autochanger that's fitted as standard in my present car. In due course, a young salesman wandered over, and I asked him about this. He said nobody wants CDs any more, and dropped down a flap on the console to expose a pair of SD card/USB slots, commenting that these were what people had their music on these days. Then he showed me that there was indeed a CD slot, hidden away in the top of the glove box, but he said it wasn't meant for playing CDs, it was only for updating the software of the car operating system. That's progress.
     
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  10. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

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    Not to sterilize this too much, but to make it very simple. Solutions are often found, when the simple problem is presented.

    There are 3 parties involved here. The vendors, the producers (music makers), the buyers.

    You, as the music makers, exert very little control over the buyers. Literally almost zero.

    You, as the music makers, exert some control with the vendor. But it's divide and conquer this way. Everyone likes to think they don't have a price. Historically, this has proven to be totally inaccurate. When put in that position, people indeed, almost always, have a price.

    Your only ally is yourselves, and people who agree with you. <--This, = Union. Perhaps not the way we currently picture it. But that is the only way you gain power. You are being exploited from both sides (I feel a bit like a revolutionary right now). That is an absolute, fact.

    Separately, you will not stop people from bidding you down. Because both sides are doing it to you...and everyone has their price. That is the economic law here. The only way that you actively change things, is by joining forces to make your voice, collectively larger. Because as it stands, the two parties bidding you down, both stand to gain from bidding you down. It's 2:1 here. Unless you make your singular 1, a collective 2, eliminate one of the parties, join one of the parties etc. I think you get the math by now.

    That is what is happening. I have not thought of a solution, or I would be a rich man right now....paying @all of you, what ever you want just to teach me what you know. But the solutions, in a situation like this, will always come from a change in power dynamics. Again, this often = union. Perhaps not even a union, but unity. A collusion of the music makers, to give your collective voice more power.

    I know a lot about some things, and very little about most. But the above, I know that. You're bidding against two sides. The vendor needs to make his money, and the buyer dictates what they will pay. Power dynamics need to shift. I'm not saying how it will, or won't work out....but the above is the "system" it needs to operate in.

    About vinyl, cd's etc. I wish that both would stay readily available for hard copy purchase. But, generation shifts dictate everything. Like Bos noted, new cars don't even have cd players. The "future" is only filled with the youth. The market is only interested in them, the largest purchasing block. And the youth...don't use CD players. To expect CD's to continue long term, is to expect that the Commodore 64 will still be in use. As a collector's item, perhaps. As a significant piece of the market...it will not happen. Apart from some sort of "world shock" tech does not go backwards.

    Trying to think of solutions, that don't include the loss of CD's, again, historically proven to be inaccurate. The masses, will listen to the easiest format of music available. You and I? No...we still want the vinyl (I <3 vinyl) and cd's. But the market is making very little money off you and I. Therefore, our voice is small.

    I have to go have somebody crack this anger out of my neck.

    *disclaimer, I do not work for any union. I have worked for some that I hated, and some I thought were helpful. In the music situation, there has to be a joining of forces of the producers of it, in order to alter the current patter of vendor/buyer. Mechanically, that is simply how it is.

    **Edited to read more gooder :p
     
  11. pcrecord

    pcrecord Quality recording seeker ! Distinguished Member

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    AH !! Could you believe I burned CD compilations (from my own CD collection) because I don't have a usb plug in my actual car !! Habits changes rapidly. I love my CD player and don't know how it's gonna be when I change my car...
     
  12. Makzimia

    Makzimia The Minstrel Well-Known Member

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    I listen to a radio station when driving locally. When driving distances, I plug my iPhone into the aux USB socket. Very slowly copying all my music onto the phone.
     
  13. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    The question is, how is a recording artist supposed to making a living with the existing (and future) technology, and an entire generation of people to whom the idea of paying for art of any kind is a completely foreign concept? People can bitch about iTunes all they want, but at least Apple was trying to insure the copyright holders got paid.

    I don't think anyone is debating whether we should / could ever go back to the days of nothing but physical product. But some point, you have to recognize that supply and demand economics are completely undermined when there's 3rd-party player in the game giving your invention away for free - or worse yet, blatantly selling your product on the side and pocketing all of the money. If the technology exists where you can replicate other tangible products (that weren't in any way free to produce) and I can rationalize getting them for free or for 1/1000 of a cent on the dollar; I could use a new truck, and a telecaster, and a 70" flatscreen, and a Red Ryder BB gun (with safety glasses), and a ....

    So raise your hand if you've ever had any original composition played on either a commercial, or even college-radio station. Now raise your hand if you've ever been sitting in a club somewhere and Guy#1 says to you, "Hey... you're that guy in that band with that new CD", Guy#2 says, "Are you guys going to play some of those songs tonight? I haven't heard the CD yet." before you can even answer, Guy#1 says directly to his friend Guy#2, "Oh yeah, the CD's really good! I'll burn you a copy." (with absolutely no sense of shame, irony, or thievery at all) Raise your hand if you can go to a Used record store, and find a copy of one or more your CDs - knowing "Used record store" is a euphemism for 'here's a couple dollars, I'm going to take this CD and rip it to my computer and trade it in for another one tomorrow'. Finally, raise your hand if you can Google the name of any of your projects and have Google (the king of defined and filtered search engine algorithms) turn up dozens of sites where the fruits of your labor and hard-earned cash investment can be downloaded anonymously for free, or are being sold under the guise of being a legit music download site that pays out to the label/artist(which they don't) - all of which is in direct violation of copyright law. And a practice I guarantee you would have Google's legal team breathing down your neck if you somehow cost them 10 cents by 'borrowing' their proprietary technology. If you've still got one or more hands in the air, OK, we can talk about this as people who "have a horse in this race".

    Yep, playing live shows is what it takes. We took the money we made playing those live shows, and paid for promotional materials, studio-time, and manufacturing costs of these CDs that others feel free to own for free. It's not a sustainable business-model when people can take it for free, without even the cost of a blank CD-R anymore.

    To be clear, "the good old days" sucked too, but to a lesser extent. At least then, an indie release could calculate how many physical units they'd have to sell to recoup thousands of dollars invested in recording and manufacturing costs. Royalty rates for terrestrial radio airplay weren't great, but they were calculable without going down 5 decimal places.

    Historically, the business has gone through cycles where you either made your living selling albums, and hopefully broke even touring, or vice versa. Touring is expensive. Merch sales at the shows are much more profitable, but not trackable by any industry mechanism that monitors how well an up and coming band is doing. Then the decision is yours, do you want to pocket the extra cash, or do you want to lose money in hopes of getting noticed by SoundScan? - which will help you get to the next level (on the treadmill), but…..

    The one thing in the Ted Talk video that I find most irritating is the fact that Google, by it's unwillingness to take a stand against illegal download sites, is in effect promoting the theft of intellectual property -whether it be software downloads / crack sites, movies, or music. They most certainly have the technology, but have made a conscious choice to take no action. Oooh, raise your hand if you've ever created a graphic for educational purposes here at RO, and later found it's being used by numerous other websites to illustrate the same thing.

    <Your favorite musician or band's name here - who inspired you to play music in the first place> wouldn't have been nearly as prolific if they had to work 40/wk day jobs to literally put food on the table for their family.
     
  14. Dr_Willie_OBGYN

    Dr_Willie_OBGYN Active Member

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    And now if your content is distributed (via Tunecore, Catapult, etc) to Amazon's digital store, Amazon now AUTOMATICALLY puts your stuff on their "unlimited" streaming service, in which consumers pay only $0.99 for the first 3 months, then $0.99 for each additional month. Amazon does not let you pick and choose. If you don't like their unlimited streaming service then you have to take everything off of Amazon. It's all or nothing.
     
  15. Makzimia

    Makzimia The Minstrel Well-Known Member

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    And then of course.. there is this total tripe, even being supported by real musicians....

     
  16. JayTerrance

    JayTerrance Active Member

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    Might this be a good thing though? I mean won't that free us all from the crude 16bit/44khz output standard that CD's enforced on us?
     
  17. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

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    As opposed to the ultra hi audio resolution of a 128kb MP3? LOL ...

    I think we've actually gone backwards in time with audio quality for consumer listening.
    It amazes me how many people will listen to songs that have been uber data-compressed to use less storage space, and then, to rub more salt into the wound, they listen through cell phone speakers, lap top speakers, or even $5 earbuds.
    I had a cheap Westinghouse transistor radio when I was a kid... it's been nearly 50 years, but I'm convinced that the cheap, lousy sounding radio I used to hang on my bed post at night, sounded much better than what I'm hearing music being played through now, once it ends up in someone's iPod, iPad or laptop speakers.

    Every other artistic medium - film, video, photography, animation, games - has reached incredibly high resolutions... and yes, even digital audio production tools are incredible; and as musicians and cookers, we are able to do things in the studio now that were merely dreams as recent as just a decade ago... we have fantastic digital production tools - awesome sounding samples, incredible analog emulation, virtual mic systems, speaker calibration, frame-accurate editing, virtually unlimited tracks, busses and aux's, seamless integration between audio and midi, and our DAW's keep getting even more advanced with greater feature sets...( spectral editing, object editing, frequency analysis, restoration, the ability to actually track through and print-to-track both native and 3rd party analog emulation processors, etc.)

    But
    - the ultimate delivery and listening methods for audio aren't nearly as high quality as what we can produce in the studio. The minute our mixes leave our rooms and then head for digital distribution, the quality gets knocked back.
    Data compression, cheap listening devices, etc., all play a part in degrading the fidelity that we all try so hard and faithfully to achieve... and the real kick in the crotch, is that those who are listening are absolutely fine with this degradation of fidelity.
    Mediocre audio quality has become the new "norm"; and I'm not talking about actual studio recordings and mixes, I'm referring to how consumers listen, and what they're listening on.

    People have now grown so accustomed to low quality fidelity - ranging from mediocre to piss-poor - that the majority of consumers don't know the differences between high fidelity and lousy sonics, and... even fewer care.

    Here endeth my ranting ;)
    -d.
     
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  18. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

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    100% agree
     
  19. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

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    I don't think there's anybody saying we could, or should, go backward to the old model. The question is, how will the next generation of musicians and songwriters ever make enough money to scratch out a living if the current model doesn't change in some way? There has to be a way forward that is equitable to the streaming services, for the services they provide, AND to the recording artists and songwriters who create the new music that inspires people.

    If your song is getting played over a million times in 3 months time on Pandora, you should be able to buy more than 3 sets of guitar strings (or a loaf of bread, pound of ground beef, bag of potatoes, plus a gallon of milk) with the royalties. Yes, it's an old link, and there have been incremental improvements in the system *see below, but you can image how many of those concessions were made without a fight. Meanwhile, Spotify added 10 million users between March-July to a total of 60 million, and is valued at over $16 Billion.

    *
    new-deals-announced

    crb-royalty-rate-ruling

    artists-will-still-get-pandora-royalties

    spotify-now-being-valued-at-16-billion

    spotify-passes-60-million-users
     
  20. rmburrow

    rmburrow Active Member

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