Micro Payment and Musician Revenues

It’s a well writing article, but also a rehashing of the same story for musicians in the streaming world –  “The Reports Of The Record Industry’s Rebirth Are Greatly Exaggerated”.

As the physical product for music distribution (CDs, tapes and vinyl) are replaced by digital distribution, especially streaming, revenues generally decrease.  As revenues decrease, it is the lower echelons of musicians who feel it the most.  In my view, it is the micro-payment model that is causing this.  In the app stores of Apple and Google, a developer could get lucky with a great app that sells for 99 cents.  Many of us are ok with shelling out less than a buck for an app that we only use a few times.  Sell a million of these and you’ve got a good income.  Or put out a free game like Angry Birds or Candy Crush with micro-pay in-app purchases – another gold-mine.  Put up a good blog and get paid a few cents for every ad click and again you could have a decent income.

This works for Drake and Adele and Ed Sheeran.  Streams pay less than a cent each.  When Drake’s stream can reach into the billions, that’s lots of cents and more than enough to cover his home with a full-size indoor basketball court.

But micro-payment requires huge volumes which the lesser known artists are hard pressed to achieve.

The streaming services seem to be stuck in the AM radio top-forty model of the fifties and sixties.  Play the hits and don’t take a chance on the new comer.  In the long run this will be a huge disservice to the entire industry.  Listeners will eventually tire of the flood of limited music.  Even though there is access to a vast quantity of great new music, the streaming services are doing little to promote this.

Maybe subscribers should be asked to pay a premium to listen to the hits.  After all, last time I checked, Adele’s concert tickets were a lot more expensive than (fill in your newest music discovery).

I have to pay a premium for more and faster bandwidth.  Could this principle be applied to streaming music in an effort to give greater exposure to newer talents.

According to Eamonn Forde the author of the Quietus article, “In this new digital reality, the big will get bigger and the small will be left hoping for a lucky break, the chances of which get slimmer as each day passes.”  This doesn’t have to be the case.