Thanks to the Internet, the world has come to expect instant gratification in its quest for information. But the expectation of cheap, fast delivery has come at a price: It has become harder for artists, writers and musicians to make a living selling their work.
Fusion reported that Pandora paid Pharrell Williams $25,000 in royalties for his 2014 hit song “Happy,” which was played 43 million times in its first three months on the station.
Salon recently wrote an article expanding on Prince’s comment during the Grammys that “albums still matter. Like books and black lives, albums still matter.” In the article, Salon explained the devaluation of art in today’s tech world.
“For instance, what should we make of Prince’s implicit claim that albums, books and black people have become devalued,” wrote Salon. “Prince’s remarks remind us that it is art, our ability to sit with art and all the possibilities it helps us to imagine, that is so important to our ability to value all lives, and black lives in particular.”
According to Salon, the only album to go platinum in 2014 was the "Frozen" movie soundtrack.
Back in November of 2014, Taylor Swift brought this topic to the forefront by pulling all of her music from Spotify.
“I think there should be an inherent value placed on art,” Swift told Time magazine. “I didn’t see that happening, perception-wise, when I put my music on Spotify. Everybody’s complaining about how music sales are shrinking, but nobody’s changing the way they’re doing things.”
It’s not just Swift who has taken issue with these online services.
Aloe Blacc from Avicii claimed in an article he wrote for Wired Magazine to have only made $4,000 domestically from the song “Wake Me Up.” This is in spite of the fact that the song was the most played song in Spotify history as well as the 13th most played song on Pandora since its release.
According to Blacc, "Wake Me Up" was played 168 million times in the United States since 2013.
But this might not solely be the fault of online streaming services.
As reported by Music Business Worldwide, a recent study by French music trade company SNEP showed that although online platforms take 21 percent of the profit for themselves, label companies are responsible for taking 46 percent of the take from online services.
After those two take their portion of the profits, writers, publishers and the government each take shares, leaving artists with 7 percent of the profits for their art.
According to Bono, the music industry has always taken advantage of artists.
“The real enemy is not between digital downloads or streaming, the real enemy, the real fight is between opacity and transparency. The music business has historically involved itself in quite considerable deceit,” U2’s Bono told the Guardian.
Bono also said online distribution platforms deserve credit because they give unknown artists the ability to reach a global audience with little overhead cost. These low costs allow more artists the chance to show their work to the world.
In an interview with Digital Spy, Foo Fighters' Dave Grohl recommended that musicians should not stop people from listening to their music by using streaming services. Instead, Grohl says that artists should focus on doing shows to make a living.
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