Streaming: Artist vs. Labels (where's the money)?

While short and not very deep in content, I appreciate this recent article in FAST COMPANY in that it contains a few telling quotes from the CEOs of the major streaming services such as MOG, RDIO and of course, Spotify.  The sheer fact that none of these CEOs can give a more detailed response to how artists get paid from streaming services goes straight to the heart of the issue.

These deals are being done with the labels…who only have their own interests in mind.  The artists are left to pick up what little piece of the pie that’s left based on, quite often, not so artist friendly deals cut with said labels.  Don’t get me wrong, I feel for the labels and their need to find ways to make up lost revenue from CD and download sales, but until there’s more equality in how the label shares this sort of revenue (streaming) with their artists, it’s a mirror of what’s happened to artists time and time again in the past.

All that said, the benefit for artists comes in the opportunity for potential new fans to come into your world, to sign up to your email list or attend a show, so there’s a benefit even if it comes at a lost sale.

In the end, the fan will consume based on what their natural habits develop into.  If that’s buying the CD at a store or a show, that’s great.  But if it’s simply a casual first listen on Spotify, that grows into an uber fan over time, that’s a huge win for the artist (and anyone involved with them).

"Page One: Inside The New York Times" and how it relates to the record industry

My wife and I really enjoyed watching “Page One: Inside The New York Times” (available now on Netflix streaming).

While it started by outlining the historical paper and touching upon the impact that it’s had over the years, it quickly shifted focus and began to poise the question of how “traditional media” tackles the undeniable power of “new media” in this day and age.  As it unfolded, I couldn’t help but think of how the struggles of the printed world (be it a newspaper or book publisher) parallel the record industry.  At the heart of it, the user or consumer will make the ultimate choice, and based on that choice, the industry will have to adapt and respond to the changes that come with those choices.  I just hope, that regardless of where technology takes us in the future, we don’t loose sight of the need to have some level of professionalism and filters involved in that process.  Hopefully there’s a business model that can be supported within it as well.  That’s where the true challenge lies.  Go watch the film and let me know what you think.

And this is why the big box specialty stores are on their way out…

Below are the reported figures that Borders owes to publishers, film and record distributors, etc…  Only in the world of physical produce would you see these sort of figures esclate into the tens of millions as they have here.  I’m sure Amazon doesn’t own Random House $33.5m dollars, as they order as they sell, in real numbers, not what they think they’ll sell (or, more to the point, what the distributor thinks they should sell).

Say what you want about digital media, at least you’re dealing in real and track-able numbers.  Lord knows I’ll miss the Borders here in Cool Springs right outside of Nashville; as I’ve spent many hours there…but the big box specialty stores have to change their ways if they’re gonna survive in the long run.

Penguin Putnam: $41.1m
Hachette Book: $36.9m
Simon & Schuster: $33.8m
Random House: $33.5m
Harper Collins: $25.8m
Macmillan/MPS: $11.4m
John Wiley and Sons: $11.2m
Perseus Distribution: $7.8m
Source Interlink: $6.9m
Twentieth Century Fox: $6.4m
Seattle’s Best Coffee: $5m
F&W Media: $5m
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: $4.4m
Sony Music: $4.3m
Workman Publishing: $4m
Diamond Comic Distributors: $3.9m
UMGD: $3.8m
Warner Elektra Atlantic: $3.4m
The McGraw-Hill Companies: $3m
Sony Pictures: $2.9m
Pearson Education: $2.9m
Rosetta Stone: $2.2m
National Book Network: $2m
Source: http://www.thestreet.com.

My recent visit on Music Business Radio!

Last week, prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, I was invited to visit “Music Business Radio”, a syndicated weekly radio show on, you guessed it, the music business!

I had a great chat with the host, David Hooper, and you can take a peak at the show notes here.  Look for an update on when the episode will air (most likely at the beginning of next year) soon!

The scales are beginning to tip towards streaming…

Ran across this new statistic earlier today regarding downloading vs. streaming (read the full article here). I took this turn myself several months ago and have become an avid fan of Rdio (you can find me here if you’re curious as to what I’m listening to these days).

In the end, the music fans will dictate (given the tech options available to them) where they’ll get their music fix. As much as I’d love downloading to continue (as it’s a significant income stream for labels and artists), the tide is turning towards streaming without a doubt.

What’s your take?