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UK to Investigate Apple Music and Spotify Over Fair Pay for Artists

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Apr 12, 2001
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The UK Department of Culture, Media, and Sport is launching an inquiry into music streaming services, including Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube, to ascertain whether musicians are paid fairly (via BBC News).



The inquiry comes after complaints from artists that the payments they receive for their work are "negligible."

The growth of the streaming market "cannot come at the expense of talented and lesser-known artists," said Culture, Media, and Sport Committee chair Julian Knight MP.

The inquiry is set to begin next month, and will seek to gather evidence from industry experts, artists, record labels, and streaming services themselves.

Apple Music pays the most at £0.0059 per stream, followed by Spotify at £0.002 to £0.0038 per stream. The lowest paying service is YouTube, which pays about £0.00052 per stream. These funds are then divided between rights-holders, resulting in artists receiving just 13 percent of revenue on average.

It is reported that in May, violinist Tamsin Little received £12.34 for millions of streams over a period of six months, and electronic artist Jon Hopkins made just £8 for 90,000 plays on Spotify.

Algorithms might benefit platforms in maximizing income from streaming but they are a blunt tool to operate in a creative industry with emerging talent risking failing the first hurdle.

We're asking whether the business models used by major streaming platforms are fair to the writers and performers who provide the material. Longer-term we're looking at whether the economics of streaming could in future limit the range of artists and music that we're all able to enjoy today.

In addition to the matter of pay for artists, MPs will investigate how streaming services' playlists and algorithms can distort the music market, and whether new music is being suffocated by the dominance of popular artists such as Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, and Drake.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: UK to Investigate Apple Music and Spotify Over Fair Pay for Artists
 
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CarlJ

macrumors 601
Feb 23, 2004
4,997
8,327
San Diego, CA, USA
The problem is, artists and labels should never have signed the contracts the streaming services offered, long before Apple got into the streaming market. It was a way to dilute the value of their songs and albums. It was always a horrible model. The problem is, now that ship has sailed, people have come to expect being able to stream anything and everything from the artists for $10 a month, and the artists are not going to get the album sales back.

If someone came to you and said, “I know you’re making thousands of dollars a month with album/song sales, but with our new streaming service, you can be making tens of dollars a month, just sign here!”, why jump on it?

I seem to recall the excuse given early on by Spotify and others was, “well, but if we pay the artists more the service won’t be profitable.” Well, that’s a sign that your service isn’t charging what it needs to. Somehow convincing your suppliers to sell to you at well below their cost, so your business model can be profitable to you, is a pretty neat trick. If your other argument is, “well, but the customers won’t pay more that $10 for our service, so you have to sell to us at below cost”, then maybe that’s a sign that you don’t have a viable business model in the first place. And rather than saying, “GTFO”, the artists/labels figured, what, they’d “make it up on volume?” By treating Spotify as a charity?
 
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bigchrisfgb

macrumors 65816
Jan 24, 2010
1,335
422
Apple Music pays some of the most out of the steaming platforms. Only streaming platforms which are owned by artists pay more, and they have much less global coverage.
Is the amount they get right? I’m not saying it is, however all the platforms need to be looked at, especially Google/YouTube.
 

gnasher729

macrumors P6
Nov 25, 2005
17,271
4,430
If we take song price = £0.79, the artist needs to have 134 iTunes plays, 208 to 345 Spotify plays, or 1519 Youtube plays to get the same money as from me buying that song. I can see why they would be complaining. How come Youtube pays less than one tenths of what Apple pays?
 

ArtOfWarfare

macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
8,900
4,714
It sounds like these payments have gotten a lot lower over the past few years? I recall it used to be that these companies would pay around $0.01/stream, but this article seems to suggest it's 10% lower than that on Apple Music and more like 50% lower on Spotify.

At $0.01/stream, it meant that you'd have to have people listen to your song 70 times to have it be more valuable that you were paid per stream than if someone had paid $1 for unlimited listens to it via iTunes (after Apple's 30% cut). I argued that listening to it 70 times wasn't unreasonable or unfair, and it was an incentive to make good songs that people listen to every month for the next several years, rather than songs that they listen to ten times in a month then never again.
 

hayesk

macrumors 65816
May 20, 2003
1,441
80
If you don't like the pay, don't use the service...

If you use it because other means will earn less money, you agree the service is worth the price

Or you are forced into it because you need to eat and have a place to live. Not putting your music on the two most popular streaming services could be equivalent to not having a viable professional music career. How is that good for the artist, the streaming service, or the consumer?

That's the same line of thinking as "never raise minimum wage - if you don't like your pay, go work elsewhere" without considering whether that's even feasible.
 

Piggie

macrumors G3
Feb 23, 2010
8,512
2,964
I will admit to have almost no sympathy with some artists.
Why you ask?
Well, I. Like many of you, have to get up early in the morning, I drive to work, have to work all day, be creative with both my mind and my hands, I get paid for my time there, them I come home, and this continues over the entire year.

Say I spend a day making an item, I get paid for my time that day and that's that.
Tomorrow I want to get paid again, but that means, me using my mind/hands to create something else.

I don't make an item, then sit on my arse for the rest of my life being paid constantly for that work I did 5, 10, 30, 50 years ago.
If I want more money today, I have to do more work today.

Hence my struggle.
Does the guy who makes a hammer, expect to be paid for the rest of your life, perhaps 1 cent for every nail someone bangs in with that hammer, and the hammer is in essence free to copy.

So he spends 1 month crafting 1 hammer, than can be mass copied, and then expects to be paid for making that hammer for the next 60 years perhaps?

Hence me having VERY little sympathy for "some" artists.
You want more money ever day?
Well work like the rest of us and create new "product" ever day.
Don't expect more money when you stop "Producing"
 

MikeSmoke

macrumors 6502
Mar 26, 2010
252
185
Maryland USA
This will be interesting to follow. Europeans have more respect for artists than here in the States. Musicians could makes up for the paltry streaming income with live performances but the Coronavirus has pulled that rug out from underneath of us.
 

ian87w

macrumors 65832
Feb 22, 2020
1,501
1,597
Indonesia
The problem is, artists and labels should never have signed the contracts the streaming services offered, long before Apple got into the streaming market. It was a way to dilute the value of their songs and albums. It was always a horrible model. The problem is, now that ship has sailed, people have come to expect being able to stream anything and everything from the artists for $10 a month, and the artists are not going to get the album sales back.

If someone came to you and said, “I know you’re making thousands of dollars a month with album/song sales, but with our new streaming service, you can be making tens of dollars a month, just sign here!”, why jump on it?

I seem to recall the excuse given early on by Spotify and others was, “well, but if we pay the artists more the service won’t be profitable.” Well, that’s a sign that your service isn’t charging what it needs to. Somehow convincing your suppliers to sell to you at well below their cost, so your business model can be profitable to you, is a pretty neat trick. If your other argument is, “well, but the customers won’t pay more that $10 for our service, so you have to sell to us at below cost”, then maybe that’s a sign that you don’t have a viable business model in the first place. And rather than saying, “GTFO”, the artists/labels figured, what, they’d “make it up on volume?” By treating Spotify as a charity?
I thought the argument was that it's better to get something rather than not getting anything at all since there's always piracy as the other competitor. Thus even artists/labels actually must go with what consumers want.
The problem imo sometimes is the labels themselves, who are already squeezing the artists dry. The labels have so much power in distribution and connections, fledging artists end up signing their life away.

In the early days of iTunes, I thought Apple would become a "label" so artists can just skip the traditional label and go indie with Apple. Although that's still possible, I think, the labels have more lawyers to make deals with the service providers to put their stuff on the spotlight.
 
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kiranmk2

macrumors 6502a
Oct 4, 2008
917
457
It's definitely a changing industry. 20 years ago, you could tell which music was really popular as people had to go out an buy it. Now they can stream anything for that 1 monthly payment. Music is much more international and image-based now - a lot of the top artists have songs that aren't that catchy (or even different), but because how we find music is now dominated by algorithms and 'what is cool' I think there is always going to be lots of difficulties for new artists who aren't given the benefit of a big push by the industry.

At the same time, I don't think artists can sit around whining about the good old days - progress marches on. This change could have been seen over 10 years ago as Spotify grew in popularity in Europe. Perhaps make use new, cheaper technology and make your music without a major record label funding you but taking a massive cut of your royalties.
 

ian87w

macrumors 65832
Feb 22, 2020
1,501
1,597
Indonesia
I don't see the value in these services, it is only 79p a song and I have all 191 I want to listen too. Why pay a monthly sub for them?
One, it's more convenient. When there's some songs I want, I can just search and stream it right away on any devices, without having to think that I have to spend additional money to buy it first, sync them, etc. It's great with friends and guests as well as I don't feel I need to buy songs that I don't want.

Second, it's the all-you-can-eat concept. For many people, especially those who will listen to many new music as they come out, this is more economical than having to buy many songs every single time. It's even more today with Youtube. People want that instant access. Anything less, even if it's just an extra "buy" button, is already a turn off. It's a market behavior.

I do agree that if you have a specific preference, simply purchasing the songs outright makes more sense vs paying monthly indefinitely.
 

threesixty360

macrumors 6502
May 2, 2007
359
568


The UK Department of Culture, Media, and Sport is launching an inquiry into music streaming services, including Apple Music, Spotify, and YouTube, to ascertain whether musicians are paid fairly (via BBC News).



The inquiry comes after complaints from artists that the payments they receive for their work are "negligible."



The inquiry is set to begin next month, and will seek to gather evidence from industry experts, artists, record labels, and streaming services themselves.

Apple Music pays the most at £0.0059 per stream, followed by Spotify at £0.002 to £0.0038 per stream. The lowest paying service is YouTube, which pays about £0.00052 per stream. These funds are then divided between rights-holders, resulting in artists receiving just 13 percent of revenue on average.

It is reported that in May, violinist Tamsin Little received £12.34 for millions of streams over a period of six months, and electronic artist Jon Hopkins made just £8 for 90,000 plays on Spotify.



In addition to the matter of pay for artists, MPs will investigate how streaming services' playlists and algorithms can distort the music market, and whether new music is being suffocated by the dominance of popular artists such as Ed Sheeran, Ariana Grande, and Drake.

Note: Due to the political or social nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Political News forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Article Link: UK to Investigate Apple Music and Spotify Over Fair Pay for Artists

This will be funny! It will put a whole different angle on the spotify vs apple 30% fee thing. People will realise that teh major labels owned 20% of Spotify before they IPO'd and still own 5-10%. The labels have made sure they get paid very well out of Spotify and left the artists hanging really (who'd have thought that eh?).

Spotify are just gutted because they were going for an Amazon strategy: get all the users and become a monopoly and then start upping the prices once everyone locked in. Then apple came along, bought Beats so they had the music licenses and boom, you've got competition and now you'll never make any money from streaming music! Which is why they are going so hard for podcasts and screaming at apple over 30% (how many people even bother signing up through their phone anyway, doesnt seem to have hurt their business as they have tons of users).

Spotify as a business only makes sense as a monopoly or literally the distribution services run by the majors. Thats it.
 

Phil A.

Moderator
Staff member
Apr 2, 2006
5,579
2,483
Shropshire, UK
I've got an Apple Music subscription but I still buy albums regularly (lossless digital format normally, although I do also buy Vinyl and the occasional CD).

I use Apple Music for the convenience and music discovery: If I find an album I really enjoy, then I'll buy it but if it's one I only listen to occasionally, I just use my subscription

There are 2 reasons for this: Firstly, I prefer the quality of lossless music (and I can absolutely tell a difference with a decent amp and headphones), and secondly I like to support artists who create quality content
 
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