Recently Thom Yorke, the lead singer of Radiohead, has decided not to let the online music service Spotify use his new Adams for Peace album "Amok." He is claiming that the streaming service is unfair to new artists, paying them far too little for their work. Artists are paid fractions of a penny for each song that is streamed on the service and thus they need to rack up outrageous numbers of plays in order to earn any reasonable income. Additionally, Yorke notes that catalogue recordings (Pink Floyd, ZZ Top, etc) which have long since recouped their costs, receive higher rates than new artists' music. Mr. Yorke's protest is unlikely to bring about any major changes but it does at least open up the discussion about how new artists are supposed to navigate in the current music industry.
The days of artists being granted cushy promotional budgets and generous advances from their record labels are long over. The terabytes of music downloaded illegally from torrent clients each year have gutted the record labels' profits. The royalties from legally downloaded music and streaming services pale in comparisons and artists have virtually zero leverage in negotiating the rates. So how is the artist supposed to make a living? Nowadays its more important than ever to make money from a diverse range of opportunities - gigs, licensing in tv/movies, merchandise, legal downloads, and many others.
In order to do this, artists need to be more entrepreneurial than ever. To leverage all of these different revenue streams bands need to build the foundation of their business themselves. If you are an artist and you are reading this, that means you have to build your own website, pursue your own publishing deals, manage your own YouTube page, write to promoters, and on and on. Once you've built that foundation its a great idea to seek out help from more experienced business professionals, but the days of letting someone else exclusively handle it while you focus on your art are long over.
This is exactly what we are trying to do as a band. We built up our business foundation and now we have gotten exceptional help from our manager Doug Grabowski and Cyber PR to help take it all to the next level. What do other people think of this Spotify issue and how new artists are to work in the current environment?