Op-Ed: Don't Get Confused By The News

Op-Ed: Don’t Get Confused By The News

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Spotify’s in trouble, its licenses are going to expire!

Nicki Minaj produced a tweetstorm about Spotify, claiming the company put the kibosh on her album!

Music distribution is mature. The news outlets don’t want this to be so, so they keep printing headlines that make you think otherwise. But the truth is the music business was in turmoil for fifteen years, but now it’s not. Now it’s a matter of how great your music is and whether you can develop a fanbase, the rest is just a sideshow.

That’s right, for fifteen years there were issues of piracy, a fight for the future, but music was the canary in the coal mine for digital distribution, it was disrupted first, and it’s the only medium that’s figured out a solution, all songs, on demand, for a low monthly price.

Don’t argue with the future, don’t go against the big boys (and girls!)

Every day I get e-mail from individuals saying they’ve solved the music distribution problem, that they’ve got a better Spotify. Don’t they get it, Spotify won! Not only Spotify, but Apple and Amazon, you’ve got to heed Peter Thiel’s mantra, go where the competition ain’t. It’d be like someone e-mailing you they’ve got a Netflix competitor, just ready to roll out, that will be more producer-friendly and will pay creators better. Huh? The ship has already sailed.

If you’re a marginal artist, and by that I mean by income, use the new tools to your advantage, don’t rail against them. You’ve got low streaming payments because few people are listening. Yes, I get it, in the old days you made more with a ten dollar CD, but chances are you wouldn’t have a record deal and wouldn’t be able to play the game at all. And you wouldn’t be able to have direct contact with your fans. Something is lost in every step forward, but the gains outweigh the losses. But that does not mean people won’t bitch. And marginal news outlets won’t gin up headlines to get you excited over nothing.

Spotify ain’t going out of business, it’s quite simple, they are the labels’ biggest customer! Sure, there are strengths on both sides of the aisle, you negotiate to the best of your ability, utilizing your leverage, but putting Spotify out of business would be like refusing to sell through Amazon, and now even Nike does that. But the problem is musical people speak from their hearts, their emotions, they don’t seem to have a business overview. The labels want Spotify to survive. They want to get paid!

As for all the writers…


You can’t make any money in journalism anymore, and music scribes are the serfs of journalism. On the low end, they’re uneducated nincompoops beholden to artists and labels and on the high end they’re self-publishers trying to sell views, self-anointed experts who are anything but. As for “Billboard,” it decided to play to the public and now it’s neither a trade nor a consumer publication and its charts are so out of touch as to be meaningless. Nicki Minaj is right there, about gaming the numbers by selling merch with the product. Of course, this should be outlawed, but she does it too! But why “Billboard” does not go to a straight streaming chart and…

Being #1 is just a circle jerk, a way to make you feel good about yourself. The only question is whether you can sustain, whether you can build a fanbase that will support you. But there’s no chart for that.

And we live in a TMZ world, where it’s about evanescent headlines, as if they meant anything. Ever wonder why the truly rich don’t brag, don’t want people or the government in their business? Only musicians are dumb enough to believe chart numbers count. They’re laughed at by the true players, who drop seven figures for a private while they talk through your performance. Used to be musicians spoke truth to the man, now musicians are slaves to the man, despite believing otherwise. Just like the public they sell to, consumers at the tit of consumption.

So if you’re a musician, know that there’s plenty of money if you gain success. And you gain success on your own terms. But really, it comes down to ticket sales and merch counts, how many fans do you have and how rabid are they, and there’s no “Billboard” chart that illustrates this, as a matter of fact it’s inside information most people are not privy to and the holders of this data don’t want it revealed. They don’t want to talk about papering houses, what really sells, they just want to blow smoke that you believe is truth.

Kinda like the journalism in the music business.

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