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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

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An Inevitable Indie Artist Predicament

This is my response to comments on a Gigaom article titled "The problem with Pandora and why itís time to clean up the digital music mess."

What I've heard for years is repeated in this article's comment section. An artist should collect payment anytime their music is used on radio (Pandora, Spofity, etc), even if that artist is not a proven entity. The underlying thought is that music media - when faced with playing an unknown indie artist - should shoulder the responsibility of building an artist's credibility through airtime.
"It's complicated, and not an easy pill to swallow. Music distribution and music's value have changed tremendously."

I also sense a feeling from the indie artist community that it is their right to be exposed to new audience, at no cost to them.

Underlying these thoughts is the concept that all music has equal value, and that a song from an unknown artist should be paid the same royalties as one from Miranda Lambert. (Please let me know if these statements are incorrect.)

These words are often stated here: "I firmly believe an artist should be paid for use of their music, after the artist proves their music is worth paying for." There's a huge difference between that thought and the payment of a royalty fee each time a song plays, regardless of the artist's rung on the success ladder.

Play Lady Gaga, Keith Urban, or any established act and payment is required. They are all musical draws.

Click to Listen
Carla Jo Carr
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Nick Gill
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But play Carla Jo Carr, Nick Gill, or The Morning Episodes and they are a liability until the audience recognizes (starts demanding) their music. Played in a void, the latter group's music is just as good as the former. Only you've never heard of those last three artists, and each of them are hoping you soon will.

It's complicated, and not an easy pill to swallow. Music distribution and music's value have changed tremendously. Artists want to talk about it by saying music based media needs to pay more because of the change, yet none accept that reality dictates the artist receives less. It's supply and demand pricing which has forced an unknown artist's song's value to zero.

Artists are faced with pay-for-play in nightclubs. It's now a widely used way to land gigs, to get your name out there, build a fan base. I'm not saying this is optimum, only reality.

For online play, settling in the pay-me-now trench is damaging.

I've received a number of emails from artists chastising my view. Each basically says they demand money for online radio playing their song(s). I've never heard any of these artists played on any radio. So, with this stance, who's hurting whom?

The internet brought about prolific music discovery, ubiquitous access to songs, and a value per song that's worth less than at any time when the road to consumers was limited to broadcast radio airplay.

Sadly, the artist vying for attention is not in a position to demand anything.

In early days of the ride on today's distribution model, an artist needs to accept any road to the consumer they can get - or settle on music being an act of passion alone.

It would be great if things were different! But they are not.

Today's indie introduction is to...
Rock artists, TheMightyOne
sample song
Waiting For You

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When an artist has the power to please they should be given a chance to be heard.

Give TheMightyOne's "Waiting For You" a listen.

Add it to your playlist, free!

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