A Pitchfork op-ed on streaming music payouts from Galaxie 500’s Damon Krukowski earlier this month continues to make waves. Now David Macias, president of label services company Thirty Tigers, has joined the debate in Spotify’s defence.
He goes into depth about numbers that won’t be a surprise for most Music Ally readers on how streams stack up against downloads in the longer term, but his key point is that artists need to engage more with the economics of digital distribution.
“The music business is a harder slog than it used to be. Media is fragmented into a million pieces and it’s very hard to achieve the ubiquity that acts used to be able to achieve, and thus sell what they used to sell,” he writes on Hypebot.
“Piracy is still rampant. But there are acts that are doing very well, because they are paying attention to where the money goes, and not bellyaching, sans facts, about the music business.”
He also makes an interesting comparison, suggesting that the “fear and lack of understanding” shown by rightsholders towards digital music in the 1990s is mirrored now by the attitude of some artists and managers towards streaming.
“The power in the music industry is now shifting from labels to artists and managers. Now that we have more control, let’s be careful not to make similar mistakes because we’re approaching the discussion from that same vantage point of misinformation and fear,” as he puts it.
Two things are jumping out from this debate. The first is the need for more transparency from labels whose artists are angry, as well as from the streaming services.
The second: the need to show artists and managers how streaming services can help them forge stronger connections with fans. A lot of artists love Kickstarter and Bandcamp because these services make them feel closer to fans, but they still see Spotify and co as jukeboxes, judged purely by payouts.
Changing that should be a focus for new features on the streaming services in 2013.