Streaming Royalties Suck Now, But Just Be Patient

I think this whole streaming issue will spell itself out. I've been thinking about it lately and one thought I have is this. Spotify et al are still relatively new companies and services. Whenever any new digital music company launches; musicians, labels etc. think they are some kind of instant savior that will make all artists and labels finally rich and famous.

But how can that be? Any other new business that launches on a national or international level has massive startup costs, from research and development to salaries and all the other costs of being and growing a business.

Non-digital companies, we have said for years, take at least 3 years to get established, but is that true for digital companies? I think not... I think it takes 4-5 years, if they're lucky.

Imagine too all the legal and very complicated contracts these companies have to deal with, plus can you imagine dealing with one big record label, or publishing company, let alone hundreds of other big and smaller music companies?

I don't know. I think Pandora, Spotify etc. as fairly new music businesses, are doing pretty well by the artists considering each recording act has a unique contract with their label/publisher which really is a huge factor when it comes to getting royalties paid to them.

So, in short, streaming music is in its infancy, and acts that complain about how much money they are not getting should cool out and look at the long range picture. Look ten years down the road... things will improve as streaming continues to grow and become a true fixture in our world culture.

In the meantime, I think recording artists should just pay attention to the many, many other income streams their music can tap into and basically shut up about streaming rates at this very early stage.

Digital music companies may look like grown-up companies, but they're not! Babies are babies, and you don't beat up babies, or toddlers, or teens... let the streaming music industry learn from its mistakes, grow into an adult, and then if crappy royalties are still an issue, which they won't be down the road, deal with them not as whiners but as responsible and professional businessmen and women.

Throughout his fprty year career in the music business, FourFront Media & Music's Christopher Knab has shared his experience at many industry conventions and conferences, including the New Music Seminar and the Northwest Area Music Business Conference.

Knab was owner of a San Francisco music store, co-owner of the 415 Records label, and station manager at KCMU Radio in Seattle.

He currently provides a unique consultation and education service for independent musicians and record labels. His new book is entitled "Music Is Your Business".

Christopher Knab

Send comments or questions to: