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Artists need ‘meaningful patronage’ in 2019 beyond streams


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Marketing agency Motive Unknown boss Darren Hemmings’ latest blog post goes in hard on the world of streaming right from its title: ‘Music Streaming Services Are Gaslighting Us’. His argument: “At every step of the way, streaming services are essentially gaslighting us that this ecosystem is an amazing new development. Just like Silicon Valley in general, there is this mindset that having everything available all the time is a good thing. It isn’t — and it is arguably damaging art and culture as a result.”

There’ll be disagreements over whether ‘gaslighting’ is the best word to use, given its other associations, but Hemmings offers two points that are worth constructive discussion: first, that “any artist must hit millions of streams in order to actually generate income of any meaningful amount”; and second, that there are still alternatives for music fans to give “meaningful patronage” to emerging and/or niche artists. In his case: “Every month I am going to ringfence £100 and spend it supporting artists I love. Not to get things; just to support them via channels that are meaningful,” he wrote. “I will be blunt here: streaming Tall Black Guy’s incredible music on Spotify won’t help keep his lights on unless you do it millions of times. But buying his music on Bandcamp, or subscribing to his club to get all his music plus exclusives? That will, because out of that £20 (for the membership), around £17 will go straight to him… if like me you work in music, consider the approach I have taken. Focus on spending a bit more money on artist channels that actually benefit them in a meaningful way”

Stuart Dredge

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