Are Spotify Boycott Artists Angry about Joe Rogan or Digital Rights Pricing? – Opinion

According to Axios, seven artists are now boycotting Spotify. These include Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Nils Lofgren, India Arie, Graham Nash, David Crosby, and Stephen Stills. Every artist made convincing statements about why their content was removed, and each blamed Joe Rogan for creating new media content.

But behind the bravado, others on the internet wonder if what may be really at work here is music artists’ dissatisfaction with how much money they can make on streaming platforms.

Since the inception of the iPod music distribution has changed dramatically from days when it was based on cassettes and vinyl. One of the biggest megatrends in digitization was the consumption and transformation of the entire music industry. It’s given rise to online music and video, as well as “over the top” broadcasting where users pick and choose what they want to watch on personal devices. There are endless options for podcasts, vlogs, and streaming content that is almost equally as abundant.

The result is that content has become an asset, and a commodity. This devalues premium pricing models for platforms and older formats. Artists are now less well-paid due to falling economics. Music can be made once, and you will earn royalty payments forever. This is distinct from the new media content that is more experiential and in the moment. New media is produced at lower production values with an emphasis on constantly new material to keep the viewer’s attention.

The economics of streaming are the same for both new media content and content that is royalty-free. Creators are paid per view. According to the digital rights activism blog, the payment rate averages around $0.00437 per stream; that’s just under half a penny. For $1,000.00 to be earned, you need 229,000 streams.  Spotify is, alongside Amazon, one of the best payers for commodity rates. It can take over half a million views to make $1,000.00 on Google’s YouTube and requires over three-quarters of a million views to make the same on Pandora.

The situation is not good for artists and they are trying to work together to raise the pay rate on these platforms to less than a penny per user. The platforms have refused to respond to artist requests, despite their own issues with economic monetization.

One consequence of this has been a movement by artists to explore the use of non-fungible tokens (NFT’s) as a potential method to turn a commodity datafile back into the equivalent of a vinyl records that you can only play if you physically own it. If this technology is to be used, all artists would need to remove their creations from the platform and rebuild them in a NFT-based economic model. This acts as a digital Blockbuster shop.

Problem is, these platforms could just as easily rent viewing rights to customers. Indeed, they do so now, as anyone with an Amazon Prime account or a Roku “over the top” control box knows. So, it’s hard to imagine that a new and more cumbersome digital rights management technology that acts like a form of cryptocurrency is a must-have for either creator or consumer.

The rub is that this is only really needed by the creator once, and earns royalties in perpetuity portion of the internet entertainment’s content. This industry’s new media aspect is perfectly compatible with the pay-per-view system. If a piece goes viral, this product could make huge profits.

Viral class new media content such as programming by “The Joe Rogan Experience” show can garner over eleven million live stream viewers per episode. For prime time programming, cable news networks typically reach Nielsen viewer estimates around 3,000,000 viewers. Rogan’s company can release up to four episodes per week. At $4 per thousand views, that’s over $9 million dollars per year in payments from Spotify alone.

And that’s just in the U.S. In places like mainland China, a viral piece of content can reach 100 million views overnight, making the term “TikTok sensation” worth handsome sums. It’s these types of sensation creators that drive the pricing schedules of the streaming platforms.

Music artists with old and stale content relying on the residual royalty model just don’t fare well when put into the same price schedule as new media. That is likely what is more concerning to some musicians when it comes down to streaming services being boycotted.

This is because these artists also have concerns about streaming engines.

And there’s one other aspect of why they may choose to speak up, in addition to personal value reasons.  You will be more prominent if you make noise, which gets you in the main news. You will get more clicks on your content, which means you earn $4.00 for every thousand views.

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