Free Music Downloads.
Being an “artist” in the internet age is not all it’s cut out to be. Thanks to the many ways consumers can access free music downloads, many artists struggle to make money on their intellectual and creative property. Free music downloads have become an everyday part of life.
This all started back in the late nineties when Napster, a platform to download and share music, hit the scene. The site reached 70 million users and by the time the smoke cleared from the numerous copyright lawsuits, the music industry was permanently changed. Right or wrong, consumers no longer felt that they should have to pay for music.
The Birth of Tsu.
What if you got paid for everything you posted on social media? In November of last year, songwriter Aloe Blacc wrote an op-ed for Wired.com laying out his concerns over how songwriters, and artists in general, get paid for their creations. In the article, he revealed that he earned less than $4,000 from the hit song “Wake Me Up,” which he co-wrote and performed with Avicii. Streamed on Pandora over 168 million times in the United States, it received a mere $12,369 in Pandora domestic royalties. He feels that the work of songwriters is “being devalued in today’s marketplace.”
However, there may be a glimmer of hope for artists in the digital music age.
Last November saw the launch of a Social Media start-up called Tsu. To date, the platform has over 2 million users. The goal of founder, Sebastian Sobczak, was to create a social network where users could make money from sharing their content. The user content relies on ad revenue of which Tsu keeps 10%. While Pandora and Spotify are the leaders in digital music streaming, it is extremely difficult for artists to make any substantial money through their services. Spotify pays royalties ranging from $0.006 to $0.0084 for each time a song is played. An artist streaming on Pandora will make roughly $90 for every million plays.
As a form of protest, Taylor Swift recently removed her entire catalog from Spotify saying that free music diminishes the hard work that goes into creating songs. Sebastian Sobczak agrees, saying, “If you’ve written the most popular song in the world, you’re still only getting a few dollars in your royalty check. If you’re a new up and coming artist, you’re screwed.” While the company is still very young, it may provide some hope that fair compensation for artists in the digital age can become a reality.
Just because we live in the internet age and most music is streamed or downloaded does not mean that people should not receive fair payment for their creative works. Protecting intellectual property and insuring fair compensation is an issue that needs to be addressed.
I’m Attorney Francine Ward, and I believe in protecting the rights of the content creator, including songwriters. What do you think? Join the conversation on my Facebook Law Fan Page, my Twitter Law Page, my Google+ Page, or in one of my LinkedIn Groups, YouTube.