Ch01.B17 The artist will find a way
by Nick Cain
In 2004, l began my higher education when l applied to undertake a Bachelor of Business in Music Industry.
I adored music. Listening to it. Playing it. Whatever.
To make it my full time job seemed seemed the dream gig. I basically got to do something l would have done for free – and get paid for it!
Little did I know, the industry was coming off the back of a copyright lawsuit that would change things forever. It famously became known as Metallica V. Napster Inc. If you don’t know what that is – check this out.
In all my university lectures, industry professionals signalled that this was the beginning of the end for artist remuneration and the ‘business’ of music.
“Why would you want to work in the music industry?” they shouted. “It is completely screwed now you can get music for free. Artists won’t have any incentive, and there will be no industry!”
History would have it that Napster was shot to flames. However, the industry professionals were not completely wrong and it did, in some ways, become the end of the way the industry did business.
But we all witnessed something quite remarkable. The industry evolved.
Artists started creating open channels to their music and fans by harnessing the internet. Short circuiting traditional structures and allowing their live performances to become the thing people craved and invested in.
Then along came iTunes, and the industry shifted once again.
Now we are witnessing another transition for musicians, and this time with the filmmaking industry in tow. The industry is experiencing the reign of the subscription service. Think Spotify, Apple Music, and Pandora to name just a few services.
Similar cries are being heard across the land around sustainability and fairness of artist remuneration.
“Subscription royalties are daylight robbery of artists!” people cry. “Where’s the reward for the talent!”
As a side note, it turns out the filmmaking industry took a little longer to get to this stage of transition but it is now up to speed, with the Dallas Buyers Club copyright/download scandal possibly the Napster equivalent – nearly fifteen years after.
To be fair, it looks pretty bleak when you look at how artists actually get paid via subscription services. Especially when you look at this confusing equation on royalties via Spotify.