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Should listening to music be free?

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#1 Emily

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Posted 08 November 2014 - 07:05 PM

Taylor Swift was asked recently about why she's not streaming her music so people can listen for free. This is what she said:

 

 

That leads to the streaming question. We've played the game of wondering whether you would have sold hundreds of thousands of fewer copies last week if the album had been available to people for free via those services. To a lot of people, you're a hero for reinforcing that music still has a value. And then there are some people who think you're standing in the way of progress by not giving in to the streaming model. What are your thoughts on all that?

If I had streamed the new album, it's impossible to try to speculate what would have happened. But all I can say is that music is changing so quickly, and the landscape of the music industry itself is changing so quickly, that everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment. And I'm not willing to contribute my life's work to an experiment that I don't feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music. And I just don't agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free. I wrote an op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal this summer that basically portrayed my views on this. I try to stay really open-minded about things, because I do think it's important to be a part of progress. But I think it's really still up for debate whether this is actual progress, or whether this is taking the word "music" out of the music industry. Also, a lot of people were suggesting to me that I try putting new music on Spotify with "Shake It Off," and so I was open-minded about it. I thought, "I will try this; I'll see how it feels." It didn't feel right to me. I felt like I was saying to my fans, "If you create music someday, if you create a painting someday, someone can just walk into a museum, take it off the wall, rip off a corner off it, and it's theirs now and they don't have to pay for it." I didn't like the perception that it was putting forth. And so I decided to change the way I was doing things. 

 

Now, I know a lot of you probably don't give a fudge about Taylor Swift's music, but I want to open this up to a bigger problem. Why are musicians blaming their problems on free streaming services? 

 

I actually did a presentation on something like this last Fall because I didn't believe that Spotify was at fault for any of the problems the music industry may be having. Here is a great opinion article that explains how I feel about this.  You can also read the article that it was in response to from there. 

 

And here's a great excerpt: 

 

So should the recording industry be saved and do musicians need saving? I have no interest in saving the recording industry in its current form, since it was set up to exploit musicians. It pays low royalties to musicians for sales of their work in return for providing money so they can record their work. There are multiple examples of different models within this system – but that is the system as it stands. Along with other musicians, I have often said that we pay back the mortgage but never own the house under this system.

 
Byrne rightly points out that musicians get low royalties from plays on streaming music services. This is because they sign binding contracts with labels. Whenever a label licenses their music catalogue to any entity – TV, film, iTunes, Spotify etc – the label keeps 50% and musicians get to split the rest. There are different arrangements: some labels pay the artist whatever the agreed recording royalty is, which is typically 15-25% depending on the deal. Have musicians ever stopped to think that when music fans don't stream their music in these services, they then get less royalties than Taylor Swift who is streamed a lot?
 
It is not hyperbole to suggest that this generation's music fans want to rent their music, not own it. Spotify may not have created that shift but they certainly provided a solution to easy-access mobile music streaming. They simply saw a consumer demand, just as any company in any marketplace would. I am certain that Spotify would want every single music fan on its service to pay the monthly subscription, but is it Spotify's fault if we choose not to do that and listen to the ad-supported version instead? This generation's music fans are using streaming services to create their own programming. And how many musicians out there in the world use Spotify? I'd bet there are many.
 
Do musicians feel queasy when they listen to FM radio? That is, an ad-supported service that is free to listen to and pays out royalties to music publishers based on radio play – ie, the more artists are played the more they get paid. One thing is certain: when artists remove their music from Spotify they are simply ensuring that they will receive zero royalties from that service. They will also ensure that they are not in a service that provides massive distribution of their work and is not a walled garden like FM radio is.
 
As for the question about how musicians should be compensated, what exactly do Byrne and Yorke expect Spotify to do? The company has already paid out in excess of $500m in royalties, a sum that makes up 70% of the company's revenue. Should they be expected to pay even more than 70% in royalties?

 


So, how do you feel about this? Do you think it's fair for musicians to blame their problems on free streaming services? They have every right to pull their music from Spotify, but do you think they're making a mistake when they do? Do you think that it's just a problem with the music industry in general these days? 

 

Any other thoughts on this? Discuss. 



#2 DonValentino

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Posted 08 November 2014 - 07:10 PM

I think they help artists by bringing attention to their music, allowing people to stumble upon them who might not have ever heard them without pandora/spotify. Plus, if you're a small group you want to get your music out there and get people listening to it, the money will follow.

As for taylor swift, i disagree with almost everything you posted there. just because some music is free doesnt mean it has no value. and the painting analogy was fucking retarted because you can sell millions of copies of a song, you cant sell a million paintings of the one you made. Wow that's stupid.



#3 masxed

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Posted 08 November 2014 - 07:18 PM

I feel like it's a totally different game these days. If they don't allow their music to be available to stream they aren't competitive in my opinion. Do people still purchase music these days? With torrents, mp3 ripping, streaming, etc I'd think artists probably have to get a bit creative to make money?



#4 ortin

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Posted 08 November 2014 - 07:20 PM

No. Artists should have a choice whether their music is free or not.

I feel like it's a totally different game these days. If they don't allow their music to be available to stream they aren't competitive in my opinion. Do people still purchase music these days? With torrents, mp3 ripping, streaming, etc I'd think artists probably have to get a bit creative to make money?

There has always been torrenting and whatnot for years. Actually, torrenting is down, compared to 15 years ago before iTunes and the iPod

#5 Turnip

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Posted 08 November 2014 - 07:25 PM

Music shouldn't be free, if the artist wants to charge for it and make a living off it then go for it, but I think most if not all of the money should go directly to the artist :0 But if they want it to be free then that's okay too, it should be entirely their decision. Like I don't know how accurate this is and I'm sure it varies from company to company, but it's probably something around this for most companies.

 

greatdivide.jpg

 

 

13% is fucking nothing!! Especially for all the time and effort you need to put into creating a piece of music. How is someone supposed to put food on the table from that.

 

I'm all for streaming music as well, if the music I listen to wasn't streamed or easily available through other means I doubt I would have found the artists and supported them. Hell, all I ever do is post on Facebook whining about how I wanna buy their albums hahah if only they weren't so hard to get >w>. I can understand why someone would be against it though, it's easy enough to make a low quality recording off those services and the artist wouldn't profit off it. If everyone just pushes for easily obtainable, high quality music where your money goes straight to the artists then I think things would be a bit better for us and the artists. Basically, everyone just needs to start using Bandcamp lmao



#6 Emily

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Posted 08 November 2014 - 07:28 PM

I think they help artists by bringing attention to their music, allowing people to stumble upon them who might not have ever heard them without pandora/spotify. Plus, if you're a small group you want to get your music out there and get people listening to it, the money will follow.

As for taylor swift, i disagree with almost everything you posted there. just because some music is free doesnt mean it has no value. and the painting analogy was fucking retarted because you can sell millions of copies of a song, you cant sell a million paintings of the one you made. Wow that's stupid.

 

I think she was just letting her bosses tell her what to say, to be honest. I think it's a mistake to take your music off of Spotify because you think that if it's free then it has no value. You're definitely just ensuring that more people discover your music. And taking it off of Spotfiy definitely doesn't ensure that people will go out and buy the album. At least with Spotify, there are royalties going back to the artists. Otherwise, people can just get an album illegally and they can get zilch. 

 

Just seems like the music industry throwing a hissy fit. I think that it's stupid to try and slow down or even insult a market that is in such high demand. 


I guess I should have said should listening to music be free? :p 



#7 Romy

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Posted 08 November 2014 - 07:59 PM

I guess I should have said should listening to music be free? :p

 

Depends what you consider "free".

Pandora makes you listen to advertisements every once in a while (3 songs?).

 

I think that as long as musicians/labels volunteer their music for streaming services, it's fine.


At least with Spotify, there are royalties going back to the artists. Otherwise, people can just get an album illegally and they can get zilch. 

Getting an album illegally is just that though.

 

If we stick to legal methods of streaming music, the options are more than abundant lmao.



#8 Pilot

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Posted 08 November 2014 - 08:49 PM

Didn't 1989 sell more than a million copies the first week? She should be the last person to feel wrong about the streaming model



#9 arcanum

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Posted 08 November 2014 - 10:53 PM

Didn't 1989 sell more than a million copies the first week? She should be the last person to feel wrong about the streaming model

My thoughts exactly.

 

I'm with Val on this one, at least for small groups, I feel like spotify/pandora/etc is a good way for people to "discover" them.



#10 SheOfTheEnderworld

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Posted 08 November 2014 - 11:06 PM

Depends what you consider "free".

Pandora makes you listen to advertisements every once in a while (3 songs?).

 

I think that as long as musicians/labels volunteer their music for streaming services, it's fine.


Getting an album illegally is just that though.

 

If we stick to legal methods of streaming music, the options are more than abundant lmao.

 

I agree with Ivy's post and so won't babble on otherwise about it.



#11 Padme

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Posted 09 November 2014 - 12:05 AM

I've noticed that her music copyright claims on YT have been super super fast. When a lot of songs came out it was really difficult to find a youtube video to listen to a copy of it, that still had audio heh.

 

I buy a lot of my music and by a lot, I mean nearly all of it (excluding remixes I can't find on it or CD's I purchase physically), I have no issue paying for music. I like spotify and I think it has its place. I think she's obviously doing something right if she's the only person in all of 2014 to have a platinum record.

 

Everyone is open to their opinion, I don't think there's necessarily a right or wrong side to this equation it all seems to fall on a sort of spectrum and is a real balancing act between attempting to get exposure and knowing the worth of your talent. 

 

I'd say that she should probably attack platforms that also work on a pay system (itunes) and also seem to pay artists less than other similar services. Knowing people who's music is available on itunes and other services they've shared with me that itunes pays them the least. 



#12 SheOfTheEnderworld

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Posted 09 November 2014 - 02:17 AM

I'd say that she should probably attack platforms that also work on a pay system (itunes) and also seem to pay artists less than other similar services. Knowing people who's music is available on itunes and other services they've shared with me that itunes pays them the least. 

 

I'm not really sure that she has my recourse in this regard, unless she owns and records under her own music label: I believe it's the label that has negotiation rights with pay systems like iTunes.



#13 Prisca

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Posted 09 November 2014 - 02:57 AM

Being in the music industry is hard yakka. As a listener it is great to have music available online, free to listen too. I am happy to pay for music that i want to listen to offline though. My bestie is in a pop music band, i respect those who work as hard as they do to produce music. I think musicians should be aware of how music is distributed before signing etc, seems silly to blame it for their problems. It must be difficult to draw the line between advertising new work and selling to make money. I think music artist should have more of a say on how their music is distributed and where it can be played.



#14 Oktober

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Posted 09 November 2014 - 04:29 AM

What turnip said: I discovered most of my music through spotify and whatnot and would never buy an album without knowing what's on it. Still, I have an impressive collection of albums of my favourite bands, but the fact that they gain almost nothing of it makes me angry.

Same goes for movies: I really, really don't wanna make the big, greedy companies make even more money.



#15 Frizzle

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Posted 09 November 2014 - 07:51 AM

It's hard to sympathise with corporate shills whos only aim is to mass produce mediocre music whilst becoming multi-millionaires in the first. Bare in mind the vast, vast majority of their income comes from marketing and concerts.

The fact that Taylor swift can't afford another 8 bed mansion whilst the average family are hoping to pay off their mortgage before their 70 doesn't bother me at all.

Especially since she's the modern definition of pop. She's been crafted and created by record labels to appeal to the lowest common denominator, I'd be surpised if she could play an instrument or she wrote any of her poorly lyric-ed songs.

#16 Padme

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Posted 09 November 2014 - 11:31 AM

It's hard to sympathise with corporate shills whos only aim is to mass produce mediocre music whilst becoming multi-millionaires in the first. Bare in mind the vast, vast majority of their income comes from marketing and concerts.

The fact that Taylor swift can't afford another 8 bed mansion whilst the average family are hoping to pay off their mortgage before their 70 doesn't bother me at all.

Especially since she's the modern definition of pop. She's been crafted and created by record labels to appeal to the lowest common denominator, I'd be surpised if she could play an instrument or she wrote any of her poorly lyric-ed songs.

 

This is a total joke right? You're just trolling? She was disliked by a lot of people. She started off doing country. The original image of her was always her playing her guitar. She gets torn apart for writing all her songs about her love life (which isn't even true and totally sexist.) 



#17 shrouded

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Posted 09 November 2014 - 11:55 AM

It's hard to sympathise with corporate shills whos only aim is to mass produce mediocre music whilst becoming multi-millionaires in the first. Bare in mind the vast, vast majority of their income comes from marketing and concerts.

The fact that Taylor swift can't afford another 8 bed mansion whilst the average family are hoping to pay off their mortgage before their 70 doesn't bother me at all.

Especially since she's the modern definition of pop. She's been crafted and created by record labels to appeal to the lowest common denominator, I'd be surpised if she could play an instrument or she wrote any of her poorly lyric-ed songs.

 

Do you live in a bubble?



#18 Frizzle

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 04:46 AM

This is a total joke right? You're just trolling? She was disliked by a lot of people. She started off doing country. The original image of her was always her playing her guitar. She gets torn apart for writing all her songs about her love life (which isn't even true and totally sexist.)

I'm sure she produces every single so shes created and doesn't use any form of auto-enhancements, but way to miss the point completely.

This is why corporate sell outs make so much money and then have the gall to moan about pirating. Extremely good marketing and PR to general masses.

#19 Alexiel

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 05:00 AM

I'm a little confused.

One asks about "free streaming" but it isn't really free.

Take Spotify for example:

You either pay for premium service to get ad free listening OR after so many songs you have to listen to ads.
Spotify gets money from subscriptions and ad revenue.

Then 70% of their profits go to the record labels while 30% goes to Spotify to, I assume, split between the costs of continuing the service, paying their employees, and other typical business expenses necessary to keep a company in business.

 

So artists, like Taylor Swift, aren't getting paid enough by companies like Spotify despite all that money going to her/their labels?

And if that's the case, shouldn't it be on the labels to pay their artist?

Why don't artists say "screw the label" and get paid that 70% directly from Spotify/*insert streaming service of choice*?

 

Not to mention that these same services also help cut down piracy.

So even at making supposedly less than one cent per song, that's more than you're getting from those who pirate for whatever reasons.

With the exception of those who "try before they buy" and end up liking what they see/hear enough to purchase their product asap.


Edited by DawnKnight, 10 November 2014 - 05:01 AM.


#20 cara

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 05:05 AM

The fact that Taylor swift can't afford another 8 bed mansion whilst the average family are hoping to pay off their mortgage before their 70 doesn't bother me at all..

 

This is exactly how I feel about it, as well.

 

There should be salary caps for musicians. I think Taylor Swift (oh god just typing her shitty name bothers me) can use whatever reasoning she thinks is best to justify not wanting her music to be listened to for free. But the reality is all she gives a shit about is money, and making more of it. And she can't do that if people listen to her music for free. If any of you people really think she cares about anything else you're stupid on a lot of levels. And probably a teenage girl.



#21 Emily

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 05:16 AM

I'm a little confused.

One asks about "free streaming" but it isn't really free.

Take Spotify for example:

You either pay for premium service to get ad free listening OR after so many songs you have to listen to ads.
Spotify gets money from subscriptions and ad revenue.

Then 70% of their profits go to the record labels while 30% goes to Spotify to, I assume, split between the costs of continuing the service, paying their employees, and other typical business expenses necessary to keep a company in business.

 

I'm talking about services that make you pay nothing to listen to music. Yes, Spotify has ads but technically, you spend nothing except for a couple seconds of your life listening to an advertisement. 

 

 

This is exactly how I feel about it, as well.

 

There should be salary caps for musicians. I think Taylor Swift (oh god just typing her shitty name bothers me) can use whatever reasoning she thinks is best to justify not wanting her music to be listened to for free. But the reality is all she gives a shit about is money, and making more of it. And she can't do that if people listen to her music for free. If any of you people really think she cares about anything else you're stupid on a lot of levels. And probably a teenage girl.

 

And let's not even get started on Justin Bieber.  :rolleyes: Music industry just creates singers/bands to cater to teenage girls these days. That's why I like Spotify - you can discover music that you like on your own terms rather than having stupid singers/bands shoved into your face. 



#22 Dazz

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 05:16 AM

I listen to all my music for free, and if i enjoy it then i'll buy the fucking album for the better quality. Musicians make most of their money from merchandise and touring anyways so i don't really give a shit about buying their albums. If it's a lesser known artist then i'll support them, like up and coming artists and the struggle artists handing out their CD's at your local market. But as someone said "If you like it then buy it, if you don't then why the fuck should i care? I'll make a few hundred thousand from a couple weeks touring anyways. The important part is that you're listening to it and enjoying it, that's all i really care about"

 

Pirating and shit has always been around anyways, it's just the methods have changed. I used to sit on the music channels with a blank vhs in ready to record all my favourite songs onto it in the late 90's. 


Edited by Red Chaos, 10 November 2014 - 05:21 AM.


#23 Alexiel

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Posted 10 November 2014 - 06:04 AM

I'm talking about services that make you pay nothing to listen to music. Yes, Spotify has ads but technically, you spend nothing except for a couple seconds of your life listening to an advertisement. 

 

 

Okay, so it's free to you and me, but it's not like the artist is "giving away their music" for free.

It's still being paid for by someone (corporation), somewhere.

 

It just seems like the record labels are actually the ones screwing their artists but shifting the blame to services like Spotify.

Spotify and similar platforms have the potential to revolutionize the music industry... should they get to the point where they can directly pay the artists that allow their work the be streamed.
Or artists force their greedy labels to be more reasonable about their cut: instead of 70% to the label make it 35% to each AT THE VERY LEAST.

 

Take for example MegaBox. Before this whole BS copyright lawsuit from the MPAA/RIAA "Kim Dotcom" was about to launch Megabox which would have paid the artist directly.

Music would have been free for us listeners, paid for by advertisers, and the musicians would get paid directly a 90% cut of the profits.

Those users who didn't want to deal with ads still had the option to purchase the music directly.

Spotify and the likes have that same potential but as it currently stands things are getting in the way from being that for the artists they provide access to.

 

With that in mind, I honestly wouldn't be surprised if the RIAA or the labels themselves push for (bribe) political action to ban (flat out make illegal) services like Spotify to prevent this from ever getting to that point.

And unfortunately artists like Swift are either too blind (by greed?) or too stupid to realize they're only hurting themselves by allowing this tired, old, out dated system the labels orchestrated to continue existing.

 

IDK. Maybe everyone in the industry just need to "get with the times" and embrace the changes technology has brought us instead of fighting it for alleged profit losses that have academically been proven to be nonexistent.

Heck, if piracy isn't as big of a thread as "The Man" fears (https://torrentfreak...n-finds-130318/) then how can a legal streaming alternative hurt? 
Work WITH Spotify/service of choice & your artists instead of against them, and then everyone from us listeners & artists to the corporate big wigs have the potential to win.



#24 Emily

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Posted 12 November 2014 - 12:02 AM

Spotify's CEO posted a blog post on their website defending the company. He states in it that Spotify has paid "more than two billion dollars to labels, publishers and collecting societies for distribution to songwriters and recording artists." He goes on to debunk some of the free streaming myths. 

 

It was a good read and it was nice to hear from the company about the issue Taylor Swift brought up.  How do you guys feel about this?



#25 Padme

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Posted 12 November 2014 - 07:21 PM

I have never ever heard an ad on spotify and I've also never paid them a cent so I guess I get to stream for free. Meep.




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