Country Music Association Study on Streaming a “Kick in the Teeth” to Swift, Borchetta and Aldean. And Why Billboard = Torrent Freak

As the civil war over free vs paid streaming rages within the record labels, we have to note the curiously timed “study” on streaming by the Country Music Association.   The study purports to show that “Streaming drives Sales” at least according Billboard. The study was reportedly  unveiled at a private CMA membership luncheon on Nov 20th.

The timing of the study’s release seemed curious to many in Nashville since it came on the heels of two go CMA’s biggest performers Taylor Swift and Jason Aldean pulling their catalogues from Spotify.  Although it was likely purely coincidental timing one Nashville source called it a “kick in the teeth to Swift, Borchetta and Aldean” and wondered what kind of “damage control was now going on behind the scenes” at the venerable CMA.  (Let’s hope the damage is limited to bruised egos and that this study doesn’t end up in front of the CRB in an attempt to lower our digital royalties.)

I have not seen the study but I will say that it is highly unlikely that the study really shows that “streaming drives sales” as reported by Pravda-oops I mean Billboard.  We all know now that many consumers prefer access over ownership.  By definition this means lower sales, as some consumers will buy less (or nothing) and stream instead.  This has never really been open to debate even by proponents of streaming.  Further the data I’ve personally seen from a multi-year longitudinal survey of students confirms the common sense notion that streaming does reduce sales amongst certain consumers.

The real and honest debate has always been, “by how much does it reduce sales and what should be the rate?”  No one except certain Billboard headline writers seem to actually think it increases sales.

While the timing of the study may be coincidental in regards to the Swift-Spotify debacle, it appears a little more sinister when you note it comes two days after a similar Pandora “study.” Here’s Billboard’s Glenn Peoples dutifully covering the “study” that was conducted in-house by pandora employees!

Pandora will use the in-house employee conducted study to claim it’s service deserves a reduction in royalties from the rate courts and the CRB.  Just watch.  (Remember we were the blog that was right about the dumb-as-fuck Merlin/Pandora deal.  As we predicted, it has now been submitted to the CRB to argue for lower rates.)   Mark my words Pandora will push this study to the rate courts and CRB.

Let’s just hope the Country Music Association isn’t planning to do something similar with their study.  I mean they would’t right?  They are the Country Music Association.  I’m sure they thoroughly vetted the researchers and motivations of those who conducted the study.  right?  Country Music has always been loyal to it’s performers and Songwriters.

Then again The Country Music Association is essentially a broadcaster.   From an accounting viewpoint performers and songwriters are on the expense side of the ledger.

Maybe some Nashville songwriters ought to go over and ask just what in the hell the CMA is up to with this study?

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

UPDATE BREAKING:  BILLBOARD = TORRENT FREAK

PS.  We just noticed that Billboard Senior Editor Glenn Peoples has published a third article on a study streaming increasing sales.   This time-oh man you are not gonna believe this.. are you ready?  I mean are you sitting down? seriously.  I shit you not…  This time he cites an in-house BitTorrent “study” that shows peer to peer filesharing increases sales!

“That’s right! after I download the file for free and it resides on my computer, I go to iTunes and I download a second copy of the file so I have two on my computer”  

He also cites two studies saying similar things that have since been discredited under peer review by actually scientists.  Here is a summary.  

Has Glenn Peoples gone totally pro-piracy?  Citing discredited studies showing P2P files sharing increases sales?  Are you kidding me?  has Billboard.com become Torrent Freak?   Next we’ll start seeing Glenn a the Pirate Party Rallies.   We’re sending him this hat. 

 

 

 

 

About David C Lowery

Platinum selling singer songwriter for the bands Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven; platinum selling producer; founder of pitch-a-tent records; founder Sound of Music Studios; platinum selling music publisher; angel investor; digital skeptic; college lecturer and founder of the University of Georgia Terry College Artists' Rights Symposium.