Spotify and streaming installments: Thirty Tigers Head dissects the problem
In the two weeks since Neil Young announced he would be leaving Spotify over concerns over Joe Rogan’s Covid misinformation, conversations about the corporate streaming giant have erupted in the industry. the music. While many, like India Arie and Joni Mitchell, have kept up the pressure on Rogan, who has a $100 million contract with the company, others, from Rosanne Cash at Sadie Dupuistook the opportunity to open up broader conversations about Spotify’s payment structures, artist rights, and the broader streaming economy.
Amid these conversations, David Macias, the owner and co-founder of Nashville-based label services company Thirty Tigers, has become frustrated with what he sees as a lopsided conversation casting Spotify as the scapegoat of the sole giant. infamous music. industry. From Macias advantageous position — as the head of an independent music company that has succeeded in the age of streaming — the conversation around royalty payments and streaming is much more nuanced. He spoke with rolling stone about his company’s payment structures and how Spotify has benefited his roster of artists over the years.
Overall, at Thirty Tigers, the general rule is that our artists earn 75% of gross proceeds. We share the remaining 25% with The Orchard, which is our distributor. Last year, last year, we made $36 million in revenue, and the 10-12% we keep is how we compensate our staff of 27 people. We go out there and act like a label would on behalf of an artist, but we allow artists to retain ownership of their work. The artists are their own labels. We are their loving background staff.
Any expenses or advances come from the 75% the artist earns, but since this is their own label, there are a lot of ancillary revenues that can go to the artists – merchandise on the road, film or television placement – that come back directly. .
It has become more difficult to earn a living as an artist. Anyone who tries has my deepest respect. If an artist streams a million times, they should get around $4,000. And while it seems like a million streams is a ton, last month 45 of our nearly 100 artists streamed a million times across all streaming platforms, some considerably more than that.
So it pains me when I see artists and those who love them misdiagnose the source of their difficulty. Spotify is the current scapegoat for the working-class artist’s ills, despite giving 63% of its gross revenue back to rightsholders.
Democratization has been a huge boon for independent artists in that it has given more artists a chance, but it hasn’t been enough to earn them a living wage. The cake is sliced so thinly that most performers go hungry. In 2021, 60,000 songs were uploaded to Spotify every day.
So how can artists make enough money to survive? There are options for a sponsorship model like Patreon that can work outside of pre-recorded music revenue models. But what I don’t want to see happen is artists misattributing the source of their problem and undermining the DSPs that have played a huge role in democratizing indie music.
Is Spotify perfect? Far from there. I won’t touch on the Joe Rogan issue. This is a matter of conscience for artists and their advocates. Do I wish Spotify wasn’t join other DSPs to appeal the Copyright Royalty Board’s decision to pay publishers and songwriters 15% of revenue? Absoutely. When the artists I work with walk into their offices in New York, more often than not I hear about the opulence of their offices and the perks that are available to their full-screen employees.
A painful question must be asked at this point: is it the right of an artist to live from his art in a capitalist market? In a country where the business failure rate is 65% over ten years, should artists be safe from business failure? As much as my heart goes out to anyone who is unable to achieve their dream, I would say that answer is no.
Disparagement is easy. I heard it’s not the people, it’s the system that’s broken. To that, I counter that any system that has increased parity and overall income is not a failing system. There’s just much, much more music available, and while the pie is getting bigger, it’s unable to feed everyone. Artists need to understand the reality of the situation and have their eyes clear on the battles they have to fight. My contention is that dismantling the existing system without replacement will hurt independent artists.