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[Music] Killing Freemium is the Worst Thing for Artists

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout' started by No Worries, May 13, 2015.

  1. No Worries

    No Worries Contributing Member

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    Killing Freemium is the Worst Thing for Artists

    Ending Spotify and YouTube’s free tiers will increase piracy, not sales or signups

    Last week, reports started to surface that Apple was trying to convince labels to “kill” Spotify’s free tier, presumably by renegotiating when their current contracts expire. From a business perspective, this makes sense — when Apple launches its streaming service, it will offer a free trial but not a free tier, and will charge the same as Spotify and other streaming players in the market. As we’ve seen from the Tidal fiasco, offering exclusives doesn’t get you very far, so aside from an established brand name and a user base who might forget to cancel once their free trial is up, Apple doesn’t have much to differentiate itself.

    Even if Spotify’s free tier went away, we’d all still have YouTube. Apple would have a victory, but it would be a pretty Pyrrhic one — they’d just be sending people away from streaming as a concept. But now there are rumors that Apple is trying to get labels to pull content from YouTube, which could lead to YouTube putting its music content behind a paywall — and that would be a huge mistake. Sony has also pulled its content from Soundcloud, and the clock is ticking on it being able to sign deals with the majors. If YouTube started charging to access the site and Soundcloud disappeared, the world could become a far less friendly place for emerging artists.

    None of this is new, of course. Streaming may be a new format but the concept of killing off free is much older — as anyone who lived through the eighties and remembers the “Home Taping is Killing Music” campaigns can attest. This campaign was then summarily mocked by a number of indie bands, for good reason — they were the ones who stood to benefit the most from those homemade tapes being passed around. That was music discovery before we had apps for it, kids.

    Killing freemium is quite possibly the most artist-unfriendly move that can be made. Now, a group of artists will start shouting about devaluing music and wanting to be paid more, and I get that. But take another step back and think about who those artists are, and what they look like. Have you ever heard an emerging artist, or an artist from an emerging market, yell about freemium? What do David Lowery, Father John Misty, Thom Yorke, and David Byrne have in common? You can figure it out.

    I’m not saying artists from emerging economies shouldn’t demand fair pay or be willing to accept less; what I am saying is that we need to be realistic about what people will pay for and how they’ll access it. Case in point — a buddy of mine live-tweeted an award show in South Africa last month, and I wanted to check out some of the winners. Because Spotify hasn’t launched in South Africa yet, their content from that market is limited, so on to YouTube I went. And guess what — some of the bands were great, and if they ever tour in the US, I’ll probably go see them. If their labels look at viewer data, they’ll likely see a small uptick in US viewership, and hopefully make something happen.

    Or take the example of Psy (go back to 2012. I’ll wait). Is that a sales pitch anyone would have initially bought? He’s a chubby guy who sings in Korean and has a special dance. Not exactly an obvious chartbuster. But because it cost nothing, save a few minutes of time, to check out this weirdness, it grew like crazy. You think Baauer would have the hit he had if it wasn’t for the virality of the “Harlem Shake?” On any given day, I can go down a rabbit hole of remixes of Australian tracks by an Indian DJ, or watch K-Pop videos until I think I’m going to have a seizure.

    Do we really want to go back to an era when a small group of players controlled what most of us heard, and the only way to hear outsider artists was to trade tapes and mix CDs. And now we have easy ways to get free music, for which artists get paid nothing, and that will become the new normal for discovery? There are plenty of artists who credit Napster with helping them build their careers — but wouldn’t it be better for artists to have something, rather than nothing.

    As long as free options exist that aren’t that much worse than the paid options, rational humans will choose the free one. And if big labels can erase Spotify’s free option, what else can they do? They all have equity in Spotify as well, so they’ve hedged their bets and get paid either way — but what about the artists? And what about the artists who don’t have label deals, or access to legit licensing deals? Should they just stay in their own backyard?

    Look, there are lots of people out there who would love to get in a time machine and go back to 1999 — but think about all the people who lost out on that wealth. There were probably hundreds of artists in Lagos and Shanghai and Buenos Aires who were making amazing music but had no way to get it to anyone, or make any money off of it. Now, even in an imperfect system, they can still compete with established Western artists for the ears of consumers.

    Killing freemium won’t make people magically pay $9.99 a month; it’ll make them seek out free music elsewhere. By blocking channels like YouTube and Soundcloud, the labels are sending a message that only music they approve of and want to monetize can be heard, and the door slams shut for many outsider artists. The last thing listeners want is a protectionist culture around the music they consume — every artist deserves a fair shot at being heard.
     
  2. Mr. Brightside

    Mr. Brightside Contributing Member

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    If a free Spotify listener is seeking new music from a band he/she recently heard about I would think the listener would visit Youtube first since ads can be bypassed. On Spotify you can't really bypass ads as a free user. On another related note, Spotify doesn't really compensate the vast majority of artists so it's no big loss for them if people stop using that service.
     
  3. GanjaRocket

    GanjaRocket Member

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    p2p royalties for downloads and streams will really change the game

    Not bs like tidal
     
  4. LonghornFan

    LonghornFan Contributing Member

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    I pay for Spotify so that I get no adds and so I can get the premium content of the App and imo it's pretty much the best Streaming service out there. Downside, Spotify did report $1.3 billion in revenue but they also reported net losses of $197 million last year. Not sure how long they'll be able to survive.
     
  5. Rocket River

    Rocket River Member

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    Can you explain to the CRAPPINESS of Tidal?
    A friend is a musical artist and he just says .. he doesn't trust it

    Rocket River
     
  6. moestavern19

    moestavern19 Member

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    Same. Been paying for Spotify 2 years now after getting in on the Beta and I absolutely love it. Now I can stream off my phone via the PS4 while gaming too and thats pretty boss.
     
  7. moestavern19

    moestavern19 Member

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    Tidal was founded by filthy rich musical artists as an attempt to "pay the artist". The price is twice what you pay for Spotify and the only supposed premium you get is "lossless audio quality". The app is considered ****ty and is littered with product placement.
     
  8. GanjaRocket

    GanjaRocket Member

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    sure.

    so Jay Z and his top charting cronies got together and split the company equity amongst themselves, effectively screwing artists that come along later on down the road. They won't get any equity in the company (where the real money is) AND will be constantly overshadowed by top charters, as there is no real avenue or incentive in this platform for new artist discovery.

    they think people will pay 10 and 20 (for hifi) a month for 'exclusive releases'

    love jay, but **** this dumb attempt to offer nothing and line his pockets


    now a new system that relies on p2p royalties and artistcoin offerings not only levels the playing field between top charters and up-and-comers, but can actually make everyone more money if the incentives are aligned properly. I hope PeerTracks can deliver this
     
  9. GanjaRocket

    GanjaRocket Member

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    Tidal only has hype. No substance. Nothing new. Just a repackaging of the same ol crap but for the benefit of a few mega artists.
     
  10. REEKO_HTOWN

    REEKO_HTOWN I'm Rich Biiiiaaatch!

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    They made the same mistake Jobs made...thinking people gave a **** about Hifi audio.
     
  11. GanjaRocket

    GanjaRocket Member

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    not sure what event youre referring to?

    i thought its tim cook that wants to do this with beats audio
     
  12. moestavern19

    moestavern19 Member

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    They made a mistake by thinking if you put Rihanna on Tidal and off Spotify, people will go to Tidal. No they won't. They'll go to Youtube.
     
  13. No Worries

    No Worries Contributing Member

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    Anyone not happy with Apple using its market weight to pressure Majors Labels to screw with its son-to-be major streaming competitors: Spotify, Pandora, et al?
     

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