Artists Decry the “Trickle” of Money From Streaming Services

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Trickle down economics has musicians receiving paltry sums from streaming royalties. (Image by Sinner-PWA)

A recent article published by The Tennessean reported that producer and songwriter Kevin Kadish only received $5,679 in royalties from 178 million streams for his hit song “All About That Base”.  Kadish spoke at a Congressional roundtable hosted by the House Judiciary Committee, where the major topic of discussion was the  Songwriter Equity Act which, via a Copyright Royalty Board, sets the guidelines for artists’ compensation for radio airplay and streaming services .

Many musicians, producers & songwriters currently feel that they are being shortchanged by streaming services because they are not receiving the fair market value for their copyright material. They also claim that the inequity is due to a lack of transparency in how royalties are actually brokered and distributed.  Kadish along with several other members from all corners of the music industry are pushing for a modification to the Songwriter Equity Act, which would seek to create a willing buyer, willing seller arrangement for songwriters and publishers. Copyright owners would be able to offer the fair market value of their songs, including synchronization licensing, as evidence when arguing the digital royalty rates at the federal Copyright Royalty Board.

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Streaming services hope to keep royalties to artists to a minimum. Image by Shutterstock.com

Meanwhile stocks for streaming services like Pandora are spiking with the anticipation that the Copyright Royalty Board will keep royalty rates low for streaming services.  While Pandora touts its platform as great exposure for up-and-coming and little know artists, they also try to negotiate the lowest rate possible to pay those artists for the right to stream their music.  Considering that the rate of compensation over the last 100 years has only increased by 7 cents, to 9.1 cents per song, its apparent that something needs to change in order to rectify the disparity of compensation that artists must endure.

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Happy New Year from The Cloud (Pt. Two)

While the SOPA opera continues to play-out in Washington DC, I have become more aware of so-called “music piracy.”  It’s obvious to me that if  bands do not want their music downloaded illegally, they have an option: don’t release any music. No albums. No singles.  Just play live shows.  Unfortunately there is the off-chance that some one could illegally record the live show and upload the recording to the internet for all to “steal.”  Personally, I think bands should be flattered if someone goes to the trouble of recording their shows, but that is going down a long and winding path; I’m here to discuss The Cloud.

I recently discovered that Soundcloud uses a flash video format for embedding audio files onto web pages.  The benefit of the format is that it allows listeners to play the soundclip but it prevents them from downloading it.  Musicians also have the option to “unlock” the audio clip in order to allow people to download it.  As part of the embedded audio/video file, Soundcloud  shows the audio wave form (a graphical representation of sound) while the audio clip is playing.  Here’s a link to an example of Souncloud at work:  Geneva punk grrl duo The Chikitas have embedded the audio clips on the music page of their website.

Many radio stations simultaneously stream their broadcast signal on their dedicated web sites.  If a band is lucky enough to get the station to play their song, then they have successfully had one-play on the web.  Not very significant or user friendly for the fan.  An online alternative, Last.FM is a music recommendation service that uses a process called scrobbling to identify music that a registered user likes and makes playlists and recommendations for the user based on the scrobbling data.  Here’s how Last.FM describes scrobblin

  • Scrobbling is a little note The Scrobbler sends to Last.fm to let us know what song you’re playing.
  • Scrobbling helps us tell you what songs you play most often, which songs you like the most, how much you’ve played an artist over a certain amount of time, which of your friends have similar tastes… all kinds of stuff. By focusing on the music you already play we can help you discover more music.
  • The Scrobbler automatically fills your library and updates it with what you’ve been listening to on your computer or iPod.

Essentially you build your own radio “station” by adding recommendations to your playlist.  If a musician wants to upload his or her music they simply play it on their ipod or computer and it automatically uploads to Last.FM.  Sorry SOPA.

In the United States there is a similar service called Pandora where a registered user can play musical selections similar to song suggestions entered by a user.  The user provides positive or negative feedback for songs chosen by the service, which are taken into account for future selections. While listening, users have the option to buy the songs or albums at various online retailers. But Pandora does not allow users to upload their music like Last.FM and play of a single artist is limited.  Pandora provides similar music, not a play-on-demand service.

There is still a lot of more information about The Cloud.  In part three, I will be taking a look at a build-your own social networking site and more.