For over four years now, we’ve been somewhat mystified by the hatred from some musicians and labels towards streaming services like Spotify. The general complaint seems to be that “it doesn’t pay enough,” but “enough” is often at ridiculously high standards. I’ve now seen three separate analyses that show that, on a per listener-per play basis, Spotify pays more than any other source. The problem, it often seems, is one of expectations. Part of it is simply that musicians seem to forget that their labels take a giant chunk of their earnings, and that the payments that eventually trickle down to musicians are often months or years late. Also, those doing the complaining often seem unable to comprehend that these services take time to grow, and as they grow, the payouts get bigger and bigger. But the biggest mistake of all seems to be the idea that not having your music where your fans want it is somehow a good idea. We’ve pointed out repeatedly that making music disappear from where people are looking for it only harms the musicians.
Furthermore, as we’ve seen over and over again, as these services get bigger and start to catch on, artist are realizing all sorts of ways they can profit from them. Two recent examples are quite handy. First up, we have independent musician Ron Pope (music here), who has written a fantastic piece for the Huffington Post about just how wonderful Spotify has been for his career.
In the past 14 years, music industry revenues plummeted from $14.3 billion to $7 billion. People listen to more music than ever, but they do it on platforms like Spotify and Pandora, which pay artists fractions of pennies per play. Things aren’t much better on YouTube, where ad revenues for creators continues to fluctuate. With little monetary incentive, some worry that musicians will simply stop creating altogether. Talking Heads lead singer David Byrne went so far to say, “The Internet will suck all creative content out of the world.”
Is the state of affairs for musicians really so dire?
Not according to Pomplamoose singer Jack Conte. Last year with $2.1 million in funding, he launched Patreon, a platform where musicians, writers, cartoonists and other creators can solicit donations for their work. What makes Patreon a little different than Kickstarter and Indiegogo is that users subscribe to creators, paying them monthly for as long as they wish. Creators can offer small rewards for donations, but the focus is less on rewards and more on supporting artists for its own sake.
This Gigantic Robot Kills is the sixth album by nerdcore musician MC Lars.
Lars has stated that he worked with "Weird Al" Yankovic, the Rondo Brothers, Nick Rowe and Mike Kennedy of Bloodsimple, James Bourne of Busted, Daniel Dart of Time Again, Donal Finn of Flash Bastard, Pierre Bouvier of Simple Plan, MC Bat Commander of The Aquabats, Suburban Legends, Worm Quartet, Gabriel Saporta of Cobra Starship, Brett Anderson of The Donnas, MC Frontalot, Amie Miriello of Dirtie Blonde, Jesse Dangerously, Linus Dotson of Size 14, Parry Gripp of Nerf Herder, Jonathan Coulton, Aesias Finale, Sebastian Reynolds, Brendan B. Brown of Wheatus, and classical musician Walt Ribeiro on songs for the new album.
Pick the album up on iTunes!
For the third time this year — and only the fourth time ever — the year-to-date total sales of digital albums have exceeded those of CDs.
According to Nielsen SoundScan, so far in 2014 through the week ending Feb. 2, a total of 22.99 million albums have been sold. Of that total, 11.18 million were downloads while another 11.10 million were CDs. (An additional 710,000 were vinyl LPs and other physical configurations, like cassettes.)
Year-to-date sales of albums on CD have only trailed downloads in three earlier times — and two of those were this year. Before 2014, it happened in just the first week of 2013 (week ending Jan. 6).
While it may seem counterintuitive to some, digital albums have yet to consistently surpass physical album sales. Up until now, only when track equivalent album (TEA) sales, whereby 10 songs equal one album, are factored in do digital album sales surpass CDs. Digital albums plus TEA first surpassed physical albums in 2011 when physical albums accounted for 49.7% of albums while digital albums plus TEA accounted for 50.3%. The market has yet to have a year where digital album sales without TEA surpassed those of CDs, but 2014 might be the year where it finally happens.
The divide between the two configurations has grown closer in recent years. Last year, CDs represented 57.2% of the album market, while downloads were 40.6%. In 2012, CDs were 61.2% of the pie, while in 2011, they were 67.6%. So far in 2014, CDs are 48.3% of all album sales, as compared to its 50.3% share of the market at the same a year ago.
Worth noting: when vinyl, cassettes and DVD albums are added in, physical albums account for 51.38% thus far in 2014 versus digital’s 48.62%. Vinyl itself is nearly 3% of all album sales so far this year.
Source: Billboard (by Kevin Caulfield)