Any discussion of what streaming services do (or don’t) pay out is always going to get people’s blood pressure up. Are streaming services saving the business? Or are they part of a Big Tech turbo-conspiracy to exploit (and rip off) creators?
Kim Bayley, CEO of ERA, has waded into the debate and argues that accusations that streaming services are trying to short-change artists is leading into a very unhelpful us/them dichotomy and that the music industry is being very selective with its history. Writing on MBW she takes issue with a piece that MBW founder Tim Ingham published on Rolling Stone recently where he says (in the precise use of quotes she draws from that article) streaming services have been “holding on to” or “keeping” money from artists. (This is in relation to his argument that streaming services have increased the total amount of money they are bringing to the industry but also increasing their share of that money.) “This is quite clearly nonsense,” asserts Bayley. “Does the industry think digital services should build and operate their services for free?” She adds, “It is true that the proceeds of the streaming revolution are currently being unequally distributed, but arguably it is in the opposite direction to the one implied in Rolling Stone.”
She argues that music is “no better or worse” today than it has been in the past. “The picture is the same,” she proposes. “It’s the frame which changed – the frame provided by streaming services.” She feels, ultimately, that the music industry should be thankful that services from the outside thew it a lifeline when it needed it the most and that it should never forget that, if it had tried to save itself without any outside help, the results would not have been “too pretty”. It does not get into a full-on right to reply where Bayley and Ingham trade argument and counter-argument until one collapses. This is, after all, an op-ed; but the standfirst and the tart language it uses (“MBW is proud to be a forum for open debate, but that doesn’t mean we have to agree with every single thing argued within these columns, obvs”) speaks volumes about what MBW feels about Bayley’s take on Ingham’s take.