Thom Yorke’s announcement to boycott Spotify is just the latest public acknowledgement that the pay rates and business models of streaming services need to adapt and evolve to pay sustainable rates to artists and rights holders. We’ve previously offered our own point of view on Spotify whereby we believe that current streaming based models are fundamentally flawed at the level of their pay rates and are especially devastating to developing artists.
Both Thom Yorke of Radiohead and Trent Rezenor of Nine Inch Nails were two of the first artists to explore and experiment with potentially new music business models on the internet. However, the realities of those experiments have become apparent this year as Thom Yorke spoke out about Google and Trent Reznor against music streaming services being unfair to artists.
But it’s also important to remember that despite our disagreements over the revenue distribution models of Spotify and Pandora these are legal and licensed services. The primary reason that these streaming businesses even exist is in response to a decade plus of infringing and illegally operating business who pay nothing at all, zero, zilch, nada.
Let’s get really real for one second… One of the primary reasons Spotify pays so little is because so many more pay nothing at all. Google alone is tracking millions and millions of infringement notices to over 200,000 known illegally operating businesses.
For those who unaware, Ad Sponsored Piracy is the mechanism by which illegal and infringing online businesses get paid to display advertising on their sites. These sites do not license any of the music they distribute nor do they share any of this revenue with artists or rights holders. In other words Silicon Valley corporate interests pocket 100% of the money and pay artists nothing.
Simply put, ad supported piracy is the practice whereby ad networks like Google’s Adsense profit by placing ads on pirate sites like www mp3skull com.
Brand $$$-> Ad Agency $$$-> On Line Ad Services $$$-> Ad Exchanges $$$-> Illegal and Infringing Sites Profit from Ad Placements.
Any legally licensed, legitimate internet music business has to acknowledge that mass scale, enterprise level, commercial infringement of music only harms their business. The devaluation of advertising inventory on infringing sites harms both the legitimate businesses ability to grow, and the ability to pay sustainable rates to musicians.
So why doesn’t Spotify join with artists by insisting on better controls and regulation of online advertising? Spotify’s existence alone is not the solution as the payments to artists and rights holders simply do not scale as we have previously pointed out (also note how much less YouTube pays than Spotify – more on this later).
Maybe we’re missing something. If streaming is the future how does $2.5b in revenue from a massively successful Spotify replace the loss of $8.3b in annual earnings?
Solutions for Artist Rights must include the acknowledgement that the mathematical facts of streaming services is that they are unsustainable at current rates (see chart above). Therefore, there must be regulatory enforcement to protect artists and other creators (authors, filmmakers, etc) from Ad Sponsored Piracy.
We have previous identified over 50 Major Brands Supporting Illegal and Infringing online businesses here:
See more Corporate Advertising Funded Exploitation of Artists:
Tom Waits * Neil Young * Aimee Mann * Neko Case * U2 * Ben Gibbard/Death Cab For Cutie * East Bay Ray / Dead Kennedy’s * Billy Corgan/Smashing Pumpkins