Growing up, how many people dreamed of being rockstars? Without any hesitation I can tell you that the answer is a lot. Truth is, being a rockstar has been glorified and shown in an unrealistic way. What nobody knows about is the nights that your favorite artist spent starving in a sketchy alley at night because they had nowhere to sleep.
Kids dream about being rockstars because it’s just that: a dream. They don’t know what happens after your hero leaves the stage, and they don’t know what it took for them to get there.
The reality is scary, it’s heartbreaking, it’s unfathomable, but it’s the truth.
The music industry is one of the most diverse industries in the world. Music is produced in all different areas of the world and appeals to millions of different people. The differences in each genre are so severe that music appeals to everybody, no matter what sound they prefer. Keeping that in mind, the musical industry is growing at exponential rates, making it difficult for smaller artists to pick up and gain success. In this decade, digital downloads have increased in popularity, and programs have been started where an individual doesn’t even have to pay for the music that he or she listens to. This has made it even more difficult for artists to establish themselves and make a steady living.
Major label artists such as Taylor Swift and Kanye West rely mainly on merchandise sales and advertisements. The money acquired through ticket sales is spent largely on the cost of the venue. However, few musical artists have the resources and contracts that allow them to thrive without including music sales. According to The Verge, a music magazine, and Sony’s Spotify Contract, each time a song is streamed, the distributor receives between $0.006 and $0.0084. After, managers, agents, and producers have to be payed. Finally, the artist is given the money that is left over after all other necessary expenses are taken care of.
As the music industry grows, new artists appear, and the need for success increases. Small bands and artists have to pull as much of their personal money together in order to pay for the necessities that touring and publicizing their music requires. Many talented bands that are currently touring still need to maintain a job in order to provide money for the cost of living and the cost of touring. For this reason, it is even more important that we support these up and coming artists. I understand that it is more cost efficient for listeners to subscribe to a program and pay $10.00 monthly for unlimited music. The subscription companies make money from other sources, such as advertisements, making organizations like Spotify billion dollar companies. According to Consequence of Sound magazine, Spotify is worth 8.4 billion dollars, which is more than the net worth of entire music industry. Contracts can and should be made that give artists more money for the work that they put into their music, without Spotify completely losing their money.
It is crucial that, when listening to music, we keep in mind the lives of the musicians who provide such music for us. For example, the band Picturesque is a growing alternative-rock band from Louisville, Kentucky. After seeing the band in September of 2016, I had the luxury of having a conversation with the singer and the guitar player, Kyle Hollis and Zach Williams, respectively. Both members spoke fondly of their experiences on the road, but wished that they had the comfort of being able to experience certain activities that they could not due to lack of money. This band is one of the most amazing bands that I have experienced play live, and they are insanely talented, however their efforts on stage do not pay off in the way that they would like. After the show, they push for people to by their physical CDs and merchandise due to the fact that most of their profit is made from their ability to sell items, not based on their raw musical talent. PIcturesque has been a band for seven years, and have practiced almost everyday for three hours since their formation. It has taken them five years to get to a place where their music is worthy of sharing, and they aren’t even earning a penny for every time somebody streams their song.
Finally, it is imperative that major music companies pay the artists more, as they deserve nothing but success for their hard work. In the past decade, artists have gone from receiving $1.00 for every song purchased to .0006 cents every time a song is streamed. Even if a song is streamed 100 times, the artist only receives a portion of the .06 cents earned. Whether the solution is in the contracts between artists and the distributors, or even in eliminating internet music, something must be done, and fast.
I have yet to encounter a person who doesn’t listen to music. Whether it’s pop, rock, hip hop, rap, or any other genre, everybody loves music and everybody connects to and cares about music. So why can’t musicians make a living? Why does a working artist get paid less than 1 cent for every time a user streams his or her song? Why are people okay with this? It is absolutely not okay that artists don’t get the payment that they deserve for the work that they put in.