If only John Harris understood

He should in fact understand the music business as that was his starting point, music journo.

Thousands of musicians who have signed contracts with corporate record companies and ended up in debt to their overlords (or “unrecouped”) receive no money at all.

This works the same way a company does. The record company here is the bank making a loan, the band are the shareholders. OK, so, the shareholders get dividends after the bank has been paid back the loan, right?

But the thing that annoys is this:

If you have the money and some remaining Christmas spirit, you should log out of Spotify, go to either an online outlet or a bricks-and-mortar record shop, buy a few physical products, and contribute a little to the livelihood of a musician or two. Given the magic they conjure up, it’s a very small price to pay.

A band that is unrecouped don;t get anything from the physical purchases either. It goes to repaying the loan.

We might also whinge at this:

The facts may now be well known, but that does not make them any less shocking: Spotify is estimated to pay about £0.0028 (or 0.28p) per stream to “rights holders”, a term that encompasses both massive record companies and artists who put out their own music; and on YouTube, the per-stream rate is put at a mere £0.0012.

So, what’s radio then? A guide is that Radio 1 will pay £100 for a song being played on the radio. To what, 1 million, 2 million people? Sure, it’s a different sum of money but it’s not that different on a per person basis, is it?

14 thoughts on “If only John Harris understood”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    Only in the Guardian:

    “If you have the money and some remaining Christmas spirit, you should log out of Spotify, go to either an online outlet or a bricks-and-mortar record shop, buy a few physical products,”

    and

    “It’s our rapacious consumption that is the problem”

  2. The money for an unknown band is in gigging and merch. Those spotify and other payments don’t amount to much unless you are huge.

    Most bands don’t have record deals, only a few per year get one. The ones without deals can self-publish nowadays and reach audiences unavailable before the internet.

    My son the guitarist had a 100,00 play payment from spotify,one of his band’s songs being played by mistake because a similarity of name with a bigger band resulting in repeat plays from people who liked that song. Divided five ways it was a few quid.

    He’s also had a song from a side project picked up as a clip played in an episode of Judge Judy, which is in reruns and pays a pittance each time.

    Of course none of this has ever resulted in a profit.

  3. Hang on is the Guardian now encouraging us to go out during a pandemic! Don’t they know that this will kill granny?

  4. One of the “fun” thing about this whole lockdown thing is that real artists have become very creative in using the interwebs as means of reaching out to their audiences.
    Between Patreon, Ko-Fi, Youtube/facebook streams, Spotify, webshops, and using the time to finally update the website they try to make the best of it.

    It seems to me the artists that have not forgotten the basics of Artistry: getting out there and on stage, any stage, and do stuff people like, are doing better than the overhyped, “critic-acclaimed” snowflakes no-one is really interested in the article brings up.
    With all the possibilities the modern online world gives an artist, there’s still revenue if (s)he entertains, doubly so since events and venues are dead in the water, and online has become the de-facto stage. Snooty airs don’t work online. Putting in the work and, y’know, perform and entertain an audience does.

    And perform well… Because an online performance is in a sense the ultimate private living-room concert. Fail to entertain, and you’re just a click away from being removed from the pool. There are plenty other options. And no hype, contract, promotor or label ( or Guardianista columnist for that matter) is going to save you there.. No Peer pressure, no Place To Be (Seen), no Happening..

    Maybe it’ll blow a fair amount of chaff away, and improve the “gene pool”. The real artists will pick up once this has blown over anyway. Like all of us, they’re waiting, ready to go..

  5. A guide is that Radio 1 will pay £100 for a song being played on the radio. To what, 1 million, 2 million people?

    Which is insane. From the get go, the radio stations should have been charging, not paying. Instead, they left it to their staff to be bribed.

    Don’t forget the other end of that chain of cuntishness:
    https://pplprs.co.uk/playing-music-legally/

    No doubt fuck-all of that goes to the content creators either.

    Bands should use something like Bandcamp to distribute (artists keep something like 80 – 85% of revenue) and promote themselves with gigs and social media. If the dinosaurs (including the new ones) don’t pay, stop using them.

  6. per PJF
    Bands should use something like Bandcamp to distribute (artists keep something like 80 – 85% of revenue)

    Same with publishers. A derisory advance, 18 months of an editor dicking with the manuscript, and piffling royalties only paid after promotional costs.
    Compare amazon. I finished the book, got my head round the amazon formatting (took this thicko a while but could be done in an hour or two) and chose royalty scheme. 80% on every ebook sold, so can afford to halve the price compared to trad publisher.
    I just don’t believe editors and all the publishing overhead add worthwhile value. In future, I expect even best selling established authors will go down the self publish route.

  7. Funny how consumption is OK when it is them or their tribe who benefit. Like those articles about flights, only the ones to Magalouf or Ibiza kill the planet, the ones to Firenze or Switzerland don’t, by some mysterious process unknown to ‘Science’.

  8. I’ve said it before though – ‘Progressive’ causes like environmentalism are more about class warfare than the issue they claim to address. Middle-class snobbery and hatred of the working classes is a bit, well, hatey, so instead they have convinced themselves it is in a nobler cause.

    Ditto the modern crusade against ‘obesity’. Every article you see will have photos of, and refer to, lager, burgers, chips, etc. Never wine, pasta, Camambert. Middle-class, organic food contains no bad calories at all, no sir.

  9. Is radio likely to become obsolete? I used to listen to radio regularly but stopped entirely when I got a Spotify account.

  10. I used to listen to radio regularly but stopped entirely when I got a Spotify account.

    Just curious (don’t have Spotify) but are you just listening to music you know (pull) or does the system push music at you like radio?

  11. @stonyground,

    And made even less appealling when the Ruperts at Radio 2 ruined both the breakfast and drive time shows for diversity “reasons”.

  12. It’s never been cheaper to get one’s music more or less freely available to more people. The tricky part is persuading all those people that they should listen to *your* music – something that concert promoters, music publishers, radio stations and record companies would do (for a consideration) on behalf of their clients. Oh, and music journalism pays bugger-all these days, too.

  13. In reply to PJF.
    As a sixty something I seem to be somewhat unusual in that I don’t want to listen to the same old music over and over. Stairway to Heaven and Hotel California were brilliant classics in their day, but I’ve heard them a thousand times and really don’t need to hear them again. One thing that Spotify has done has been to give me access to songs that I used to like but never bought and that have never been in the radio cannon. This Flight Tonight by Nazareth for example. You can get random selections based on the stuff that the system thinks that you will like based on what you listen to now. You can also play (Artist that you like) radio which plays random tracks by your selected artist mixed with similar sounding stuff. I also enjoy the reccomendations from my 23 year old daughter, since the thing is on a subscription, you can stick as many as you like on a playlist and take them off again if you don’t like them. There are quite a few artists that I know due to myself or my daughter knowing them personally, The Wedlocks, Sandra’s Wedding and, a personal favourite, Katie Spencer. One interesting discovery was 30,000 pounds of Bananas by Harry Chapin, a song based on a true story about a truck load of bananas hurtling out of control down a steep hill. Yes, Spotify is amazing and I would definitely recommend it.

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