What’s Good for Adele, Sucks For Everyone Else… And Here’s Why…

We celebrate in all the success that Adele deserves. Like Taylor Swift and Beyonce’ before her the ladies are leading the industry with common sense. We applaud all three for windowing their new albums off of Spotify and other FREE streaming services. We also have some concerns about the implications for other artists who currently can’t do the same.

It would appear the new way to sell music and make money is the same as the old way to sell records and make money. Make a great record, don’t give it away for free, and partner with a major label.

Of course there are those who might say that the success of these female artists is due to the fact that they also have a female audiences. One could argue that there are far fewer women pirates and that alone is a key factor in driving these types of phenomenal sales figures. Perhaps women are more mature consumers than their but scratching, booger eating male counter parts however these types of pop music sales generally transcend demographic limitations.

But what works for Adele, Taylor Swift and Beyonce may not work for other artists and here’s why – it’s called income redistribution. The top 1% of artists are capturing 77% of recorded music revenues. That means everyone else, the remaining 99% of artists are dividing up the remaining 23% of recording revenues among them. In short that leaves an ecosystem with superstars on one end of the spectrum and hobbyists on the other and not much of a middle class in-between.

The Top 1% of Artists Earn 77% of Recorded Music Income, Study Finds… | Digital Music News

In other words, the exact opposite of the Long Tail, a theory that seemed exciting at the time but has now been thoroughly disproven (MIDiA’s report is titled The Death of the Long Tail: The Superstar Music Economy).

Perhaps the larger irony here is that those who sought to destroy the major labels through piracy have only empowered them. The major labels now not only capture the larger share of revenue from recorded music but also as a result they also capture the most favorable deal terms (including equity shares) from the digital service providers (DSP). The net result being that indie and DIY artists who once accounted for a robust middle class of musicians have been pushed down into the realm of hobbyists. Of those few, rare indie/DIY outliners that manage to flourish none of them will get equity stakes or the same terms that the major labels do from the DSP’s.

There is no internet empowerment for professional musicians. There is no democratization of music in creating a new and robust ecosystem of middle class professional musicians. Internet piracy and the new “digital music economy” have only created equality when everyone is equally poor. That’s a pretty lame revolution.

Revenge Of The Record Labels: How The Majors Renewed Their Grip On Music | Forbes

FORBES estimates that the three labels have amassed positions in digital music startups valued at almost $3 billion–or around 20% of the $15 billion or so the labels are collectively worth. The percentage will shoot even higher if and when Spotify goes public. And some bets have already paid off: Universal Music Group took an early position in Beats by Dr. Dre and owned 13% when Apple bought the company for $3 billion last year, resulting in a $404 million score.

WINDOWING THAT WORKS FOR EVERYONE

So what does this mean for the non-superstar artists? Very simply, windowing works. Windowing works better when there is a reasonable amount of consistency. Our friends in the film business have been highly effective at windowing for decades and there’s no reason why it can’t work similarly well for the record business.

Every new release should have the option to determine the release windows when the record is being set up. For example the default could be 0,30,60,90 day option for transactional sales, followed by 0,30,60,90 day option for Subscription Streaming prior to being available for Free Streaming.

Windowing is not new for the record business. The industry has never had pricing ubiquity across all releases, genres and catalogs. There has always been strategic and flexible pricing strategies to differentiate developing artists, hits, mid-line catalog, and deep catalog. An industry wide initiative to re-allign time proven price elasticity is the key to growing the business and developing a broad based sustainable ecosystem for more artists.

  • Windowing allows for Free Streaming to exist as a strategic price point.
  • Windowing allows for Subscription Streaming to exist as a strategic price point.
  • Windowing allows for Transactional Downloads to exist as a strategic price point.
  • Windowing allows for artists and rights holders to determine the best and most mutually beneficial way to engage with their fans.

Windowing is the key (as it always has been) in rebuilding a sustainable and robust professional middle class that will inevitably lead to more artists ascending to the ranks of stars. Some will become superstars and legends capable of creating the types of sales and revenues currently achieved by Adele, Taylor Swift and Beyonce’. To get there however we need to abandon Stockholm Syndrome and embrace windowing that works for everyone.

This one chart says it all…

FreePaidChart

 

 

About Trichordist Editor

Trichordist Editor

5 thoughts on “What’s Good for Adele, Sucks For Everyone Else… And Here’s Why…

  1. Yes, the different platforms should be used as tools, which can be judiciously used by each artist/label to best promote their release. On a practical level, I haven’t come across a digital distributor that will do windowing; they all seem to require that the song(s) is released to download stores and streaming companies at the same time meaning that windowing would require two separate release dates, at least, which would, therefore, incur two separate distribution fees.

    • The fees should be by title, not by street date. A simple toggle box that sets when a title can be released to various TYPES of platforms should be an easy programming feature. Keeping track of things is what computers and automated systems do well. Let’s have some benefits for artists from all of this technology!

      • Yeah, given the relative simplicity of implementing windowing by staggering the dates, it is surprising that no digital distributor appears to have done this in order to differentiate itself from its competitors. Maybe one of them will read this and see an opportunity.

  2. Agree 100%. Netflix and other video streaming services are extremely successful with their programming that doesn’t depend on having every title at release to be successful. And while there’s no question these services have a financial impact on the film and television industry, they do not severly canabalize the income for new releases.

    The film and television industries would implode if all their programming were available for free at time of release. And that’s what’s happening to the music business, it’s imploding.

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