So is this digital revolution a saving grace for musicians and bands or simply an opportunity for the familiar players in the music business to re-enforce their dominance and market control.
There’s no doubting that opportunities have opened for self releasing bands to expand their reach far beyond the limitations of the pre-digital age. With the availability relatively cheap recording hardware and software bands are able to self-record to an acceptable quality. And with third party distribution sites such as CD baby, bands are able to sell their tunes internationally on sites such as iTunes or Spotify. Couple this with Facebook/Myspace/Reverbnation/Bandcamp and potentially their tracks are not just be available, but they’re able to be promoted to a worldwide audience.
But what of the royalties these sites offer. If this graphic I came across the other day is anything to go by then the deal is becoming systemically worse. I felt that this was a good comparison because it showed how many units/plays were required simply to earn US minimum wage for one person! Keep in mind that if we’re talking about a band with four members, for each of them to earn minimum wage they would have to get 16.1million plays on spotify compared to around 5000 retail albums sold which is the traditional model. Meanwhile Warner music are telling us that streaming is now accounting for 25% of their digital revenue.
So who’s winning out in the move into the digital age? The traditional, old school, poor crying major record labels; or the artist as was suppose to be the case. Unfortunately it would seem that the traditional players had such strength in the pre-digital age that they were able to use this cut themselves an even better deal in the digital age.
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