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Why would anyone want to play music?

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In December of 2013, Spotify responded to critics by revealing how much artists could expect to earn from the music streaming site. The company said it paid an average of $0.007 per play, according to figures on its new website Spotify Artists, aimed specifically at musicians. So basically artists could have their music streamed 100,000 times and earn $700.00. It’s three years later and nothing’s changed, except maybe that more people are consuming music and not paying for it because it’s legally available for free.  And yes, more people are paying $10 a month to get access to everything ever recorded (well, except for certain things that Apple Music and Spotify have removed under the pretense of “editorial discretion”, but that’s a topic for another day).

We have effectively put a near-zero price on creativity.  A place where musicians cannot survive on their music now, given that the people in charge of the business have given the music away for nothing.  Executives at major labels have effectively told today’s biggest distributors, also known as Apple Music and Spotify, “hey, go and sell it for whatever you want, we don’t care.”  That’s right, major label executives have valuable properties and the fruits of some of the most talented people in the history of the arts in their hands, and they’re somehow okay with those assets being sold at rock-bottom prices.

Why?

Ask them.  Because they held all the cards with these new streaming sites, they could’ve told the streaming sites there were minimums to be adhered to, certain thresholds to be met before prices could be lowered to bare minimums, yet they didn’t.  They could’ve told these new sellers and streamers that they couldn’t just give the music away for nothing, or charge people $10 a month for unlimited access to entire catalogs of music, they could’ve kept a valuable asset valuable.  Instead, as music industry executives do, they’ve tried and largely succeeded in both stifling creativity and ruining the business for everyone but them.  Yep, if you’re a major label executive your job’s safe because even though you continue to screw up over and over again.

Why?

No answer for that one.  The music business is pretty much the only business where the people in charge continually try and wreck the business and yet keep their jobs.  It’s almost like being a weather forecaster.  Be wrong, keep the job.

So why would anyone want to create and play music? For the love of music, the joy of playing, creating, entertaining, etc.  Because they can’t make it from selling the result of their hard work anymore, the major label executives have seen to that.  Go ahead kids, go and spend weeks and maybe months creating music for the world to listen to and you too can make $700 for your work! If you’re really, really, really lucky.

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