javascript:; Are Music Subscription Services the way forward? ~ we ARE the music industry

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Are Music Subscription Services the way forward?

 The Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) seems to think so.   Spotify announced that it's free subscription service wouldn't be quite as free anymore with 20 hours listening reduced to 10 hours - what impact does this have on musicians and artists?

The FAC describe themselves as follows:

The Featured Artists Coalition campaigns for the protection of UK performers' and musicians' rights. We want all artists to have more control of their music and a much fairer share of the profits it generates in the digital age. We speak with one voice to help artists strike a new bargain with record companies, digital distributors and others, and are campaigning for specific changes.
They are a reasonably new body that sprung from the Music Managers Foundation and a frustration with the recording industry in general.  Mark Kelly, CEO of FAC had this to say:

The original idea was born from the Music Managers Forum (MMF). Some of the managers found that record companies and government bodies wouldn't readily include them in relevant discussions about the music industry. However, they soon realised that if they had artists on board, it would open doors and that's where the idea for the FAC came from.

In the early days we decided that we would do it all ourselves and not have any managers involved as we didn't want to come across as a mouthpiece for the MMF. Although the MMF created the FAC, we very quickly made efforts to make it clear that we were a seperate entity (although we do still work with them as well as the record companies and the Musicians' Union). The fact that we operate separately makes it challenging because, as musicians, most FAC members have full-time careers outside of the organisation

The FAC has a very forward thinking view of the recording industry:

That business model doesn't work any more. The idea of releasing something on the radio and it not being available to buy is ridiculous. If people hear a song and they can't buy it through the proper means then they'll just go and download it for free from a torrent site. So, we were very much behind the idea of getting the labels to agree not to release stuff to the radio stations unless it was actually available to buy. Several of the major labels have signed up to it already, and although it's still early days, it should make for an even playing field
We think that the labels could do more to get the artists involved. That's what would give Spotify (and other sites) the edge over the torrent sites. I think that if fans know that the artists are involved then they'd be more willing to pay.

Spotify has done deals with the four major labels, but we don't know what the terms are, as they're under NDA. We know that in most cases, the artists get paid fairly tiny amounts but to understand how we're being paid would really help.

As a consumer, I really like Spotify and I pay for a subscription. I think it's good value and it's a great service. I also really like the Pandora service in America [currently US-only]. Apart from the fact that it's churning a large amount of dollars back into the music industry over there, it's effectively a radio station, a bit like It's very good at suggesting stuff to you that you might like. That sort of service is great because it turns people onto new music which is always going to be a good thing.

When it comes to downloading music, some people pay for it, and some don't. Some of us use reputable free streaming services, while others opt for illegal downloads from torrent sites. Whichever option you choose is up to you, and while we would never condone nicking copyrighted content, we'd be hard-pushed to find someone that had never bent the rules, whether that's by illegally downloading a track or watching a pirated video. What we do know is that by using services such as Spotify, at least the artists are getting some of the profits made by the site, even if there's still scope for negotiating a better deal for the musicians. In short, we're happy to pay a subscription fee, as long as that guarantees access to a wide range of tracks and as long as the money actually makes its way into the pockets of the people making the music.
However, as Lady Gaga recently pointed out, royalty percentages from Streaming services need to increase in order for artists to actually make any form of a living out of them. 
But last year it was claimed that over a five-month period, 1m plays of Lady Gaga's hit Poker Face – one of the most popular songs on the site – earned her just $167.

It's a chicken and egg situation - until Spotify improves it's subscription rate then it won't be able to pay any decent royalties.

By Jez with 1 comment


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