What am I actually paying for?

Today’s music fans have more choice than ever when it comes to consuming music.

Mycelia hackathon weekend in London.

We’ve had the privilege of mingling with some great people at the Mycelia hackathon. All thanks to Imogen Heap and her team.

You can read more about Mycelia at myceliaformusic.com

SONOS Studios in Shoreditch

On a warm sunny day in London, hanging out at Sonos studios in Shoreditch. It was great to see like-minded individuals coming together. A grassroots effort with the dream of a fairer music industry.

Today’s music fans have more choice than ever when it comes to consuming music. Yet, more and more artists are finding it an uphill struggle to make a living from music.

But.. why?

It seems to us that with the progression of technologies and streaming, the existing models aren’t working as they should under the strain of modern consumerism. 

We’re not saying the existing system is broken, it just needs to be brought into the 21st century.

Over the weekend we spoke with people working in many diverse aspects of the industry. The common theme that ran through these conversations was that we need to make music fairer.

Independent bodies such as the PRS, PPL, and others work to collect royalties from the multitude of sources we listen to music on. 

Yet, it seems some of these payments take months if not years to process, and in some cases never end up making it to the recipients at all. There are also issues surrounding transparency with many parties involved.

These businesses make deals, take their cut, and have their own accounting processes. This makes payments difficult to estimate and takes time.

The result; artists never knowing how much they will receive until they get the paycheck.

An industry example.

I was, as I do in my geeky, anorak fashion, googling who worked on the single “Me, Myself and I” by G-eazy.

There were 8 songwriters working in collaboration to write that song. That doesn’t include producers, engineers, publishers or anyone else involved on that track. How on earth can all those people earn a living when one stream on Spotify pays out on average less than 1p?

So, what am I actually paying for?

Now, of course, selling music is a volume game. The more you sell, the more you make. But, Spotify calculates artists’ payments by dividing all subscriptions between all streams.

Meaning that £9.99 a month also goes to artists you’ve never listened to.

This can only lead to the per-stream payout getting smaller as more artists put their music on its service. 

So what can we do?

The Mycelia Hackathon in progress

One of the great things about the Mycelia hackathon weekend has been the sense of being on the frontier. The frontier of something new and disruptive, which is equal parts exciting and terrifying.

This event is proof that the creative industries want to take back control of their works and Mycelia is about giving artists tools for the digital age; enabling them to analyze data collected by services that use their music.

This could allow service providers to develop feature-rich environments, enabling all musicians to react to and use this information in a meaningful way. 

The future may see artists interact with their audiences in ways never before possible, enriching their music with all forms of multimedia content.

With the visionaries and technological minds we’ve met, this future won’t be far away. There is still plenty to discuss and many hurdles to overcome. Yet, we believe all the creative industries should be fairer.

And we’re not the only ones.

Alex Dudley

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