if it hasn’t been made abundantly clear on this blog, i can assure you that at least my friends are already well aware of my antipathy toward music streaming services. it’s not because i’m an audiophile (my hearing never fully recovered after nine inch nails’ “fragility” tour back in 2000). it’s not even because i have a janky internet connection at home (which i do). it’s because i’ve yet to be convinced that any of the pay-for-service music streaming companies actually compensate artists fairly.
i know that my friends are aware of this opinion because one of them was good enough to email me a link to an article on the guardian this week regarding that very issue. independent musician zoe keating shared her payouts in 2013 from iTunes, youtube, spotify, and other services—even going so far as to make the figures available publicly in a google document. the guardian did some quick math, revealing that 92% of keating’s income still came from album sales, not streams.
it’s worth noting that the guardian also supplied an october 2013 quote from keating on this very topic:
I don’t feel like streaming is the evil enemy. I think it’s a good positive thing to get music out there… All I’m asking is make a direct deal with me, let me choose my terms.
while i do find keating’s transparency here quite admirable, i’d like to reiterate my earlier statement that, as a fan, i don’t actually care what the exact numbers are. i don’t even care if a streaming service pays all artists the same rate (as beats music claims to). what i care about is artists feeling like they’re getting a fair deal. if they feel the system is equitable—regardless of where a given artist is at in their own particular career arc—that’s what i’m interested in. and regardless of what numbers appear in keating’s spreadsheet, the thing i’m going to remember, and the thing that’s going to continue to keep me away from streaming services, is that keating still lacks control over who profits from her music.
p.s. on a somewhat related note, last week new republic had a nice article on how/why book publishers haven’t exactly been as devastated by the digital revolution as the music & film industries.