One of the big arguments that will be unfolding in the music industry over the next few years centers around online radio. What should artists get paid? What should the royalties be? What’s the value of a music stream? Radiohead obviously believes that musicians aren’t presently being paid nearly enough.
It’d be one thing if we were talking about some hidebound musician from the ’70s who fears the computation machine and those damn kids, but this is Radiohead. They’re not only a band with a massive fan base, they’re one of the most technologically savvy bands out there. So when they post something like this…
…people tend to pay attention. Also, “simples” is going to be a thing, now. Brace yourself.
Anyway, it’s not just Thom Yorke being, well, Thom Yorke. The band’s “sixth member,” producer Nigel Godrich, also weighed in with a lengthier and slightly more dollars-and-cents perspective on Spotify, boiling it down to, simply, that the service doesn’t pay enough to make it a good deal, and the only way to get more money out of it for independent labels is to “vote with their feet” and deny the service their content.
Spotify, for its part, released a neutrally worded statement that essentially avoided discussing the issue:
Right now we’re still in the early stages of a long-term project that’s already having a hugely positive effect on artists and new music. We’ve already paid US$500m to rightsholders so far and by the end of 2013 this number will reach US$1bn. Much of this money is being invested in nurturing new talent and producing great new music.
In other words, “We hand out a lot of cash to artists and we’re still losing money, so shut up.” But, considering the streaming radio industry’s general attitude towards paying artists, that’s not likely to carry as much weight as Spotify would like.
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