Billboard Magazine is reporting that Beats Music has hired long time artist bully Dave Allen as their so called Artist Advocate. This is fantastic news for artists rights bloggers and music journalists as they were close to running out of ways to imply Dave Allen is a shill for streaming services. By taking this job at Beats Dave Allen has made it easy for all of us. Now we can just come out and say he’s paid by the streaming services!
If you don’t know, Dave Allen is the former bass player for the Marxist Rock band Gang of Four. Allen has made a name for himself by rudely lecturing songwriters like David Byrne, Thom Yorke and myself on streaming, globalization and the inner workings of free markets. Rich right?
And it looks like he intends to continue. Check the featured quote from the Billboard story announcing his hiring:
“It is hard for me to understand why intelligent people like David Byrne and Thom Yorke do not appear to understand that we are in the midst of new markets being formed,” Allen wrote. “I have concluded that we can only look to what internet and mobile users are doing or want to do, and then note how their actions drive technologists to provide platforms for them. Put very simply, that is how markets work.”
(Wow. This is his first day as Artist Advocate? Off to a bad start-Ed)
No Dave. It’s the opposite of markets. By Government mandate our songs have been “collectivized” for use by these streaming and webcasting services. Further government rate courts set the prices. There is no “market” for songs. He’s purposely leaving out the part where the government forces us to license our songs to the technologists at below market rates!
While we have some generally positive things to say about the Beats service (the lack of a free tier means their effective per spin rate to songwriters and performers will be higher than many other services) we note that the appointment of Allen does not bode well for Beats Music.
This is a ham-fisted move that won’t solve the fundamental PR problem that all streaming services have with the general public: low payouts to artists and a lack of transparency. No amount of shouting and name calling by Allen will fix that problem. Quite the opposite.