Streaming Music Is a Serious Problem In The Music Business
By John Dillon
It’s been well documented that CD sales are declining, and a growing number listen to music free because it’s now being distributed online. According to a recent New York Times* article, “…when music moved into the cloud, not much of the revenue came with it. CD sales are a fraction of what they once were, and the micro-payments from a streaming music service [to artists] have yet to amount to anything meaningful. It’s a grim state of affairs…”
Up until a few years ago, most of the music online was sold through digital downloading sites like iTunes. In this scenario, the fan actually purchased a song, or album, and downloaded it onto their computer or mobile device. The artist received a fair share of the purchase price.
Now music fans––who once paid for and downloaded their music, and before that, purchased CDs––now stream music using services like Pandora and Spotify to listen. These services may well be convenient and inexpensive for the listener. However, the problem is that because of loopholes in the copyright law, these streaming services are allowed to offer music without paying the artists fairly for their work.
Rosanne Cash (daughter of the late Johnny Cash) testified before congress earlier this year that her income from over 600,000 plays on a popular streaming site was a mere $114.** Her biggest concern is that young artists are being discouraged and giving up on their dreams.
James Lee Stanley, a professional singer/songwriter from California reports that his quarterly income from online sales has dropped from $1,500 to $150, a 90% drop. He attributes the decline to the shift from downloading to streaming. Austin Texas artist, Raina Rose said, “One of my really old songs got 71,911 plays on Pandora this quarter and for that honor, I was given $7.33.”
Mac McCaughan, owner of Merge Records, a small but successful label says*, “You can’t guilt people into buying records or get them to stop just grabbing MP3s, you have to give them something they want to support.”
The Standing ‘O’ Project may just be that something.
Created by the folks at Art of the Song Creativity Radio (heard on 150 stations), the Standing ‘O’ Project is a grass-roots effort to build a community of musicians and music lovers that actually gives musicians an opportunity to build a successful online business. Something indeed worth supporting.
Standing ‘O’ founder John Dillon says, “While we may not be able to change the multi billion dollar music business overnight, we can offer an alternative. The Standing ‘O’ Project is more about building a supportive community than actually ‘selling’ music. We’ve taken ideas from cause marketing, affiliate marketing, public radio fundraising, and even multi-level marketing, and put them together to create a totally new business model for music.”
Here’s how it works. Musicians join for free and agree to share their music and help build the community. Fans join for $5 a month (more if they like), and 50% of the membership revenue goes directly back to the musicians. For their small monthly fee, fans get a wealth of music and interview content (including over 100 shows from the Art of the Song archive) and the ability to discover and connect with artists. The other 50% supports the site and keeps Art of the Song on the air.
Dillon goes on, “We’ve been giving a voice to singer/songwriters through our nationally syndicated radio program, Art of the Song, for over 10 years now. We want to continue that effort AND give musicians a way to prosper financially.”
We invite you to visit http://StandingOProject.com and try it free for 10 days. If you agree this is a cause worth supporting, please be generous with your monthly contribution.
*New York Times article: A New Model for Music: Big Bands, Big Brands, March 17, 2014, page B1 of the New York edition
**American Songwriter, June 24, 2014