Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Harrowing Look Inside The Music Streaming Business

I'm always interested in articles that shed light on how various entertainment industries work.  As a writer now, I'm particularly drawn to anything related to publishing, as I find myself dipping my toes into that tepid bath.

And then there's the music industry, which I get a great deal of enjoyment from, while lacking any direct involvement in.  I've got a copy of David Byrne's How Music Works, for example, and look forward to reading it as soon as I get through some of my current pile.  In the meantime, though, there's this Pitchfork article about music streaming services Pandora and Spotify.  The revenue numbers provided in it are horrifying to anyone who imagines musicians actually making a living from their work.  As the author notes, those services appear to exist solely to make money for their investors and provide their users with easy access to music.  That's all well and good, but what of the artists providing the actual goods in question?  I get so irate these days when I think of people enjoying the fruits of others' labours while the labourers get next to nothing (or, in the case of actual pirating, nothing).  Maybe we're simply approaching a point in history where art really won't be considered to have any intrinsic commercial value, but all that can possibly do is discourage most people from making it.  The only ones who'll bother, I suppose, will be those who don't need to be paid for their efforts.  Mitt Romney's Greatest Hits can't be far off, I guess!

When I read articles of this sort, I think: just keep publishing my books, selling them one copy at a time, and count myself lucky I can even make that much money.  It's sad, really.

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