Imbalance

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I have written a lot as of late about the issue of musicians and how they get rewarded for their work. It has ruffled a few feathers and I think that’s good.

To be clear, I am interested in looking at alternate ways to get our artists and musicians paid – and paid well enough to have their work flourish. I believe some of my readers have misunderstood my intent – instead thinking I am advocating free music for everyone – while nothing further from the truth could be said. We need to find a way to get musicians paid for their work so they can continue to make more of it. Plain and simple.

Here’s something to think about however. The classic model of the label financing all the work and paying the artists a percentage of the returns is at the heart of the original problem, in my opinion.

The old model is the label takes a chance on an artist and funds the recording, the publicity, the manufacture of the media and the distribution and sale of that media. In exchange for all this upfront work and risk, the label typically keeps 90% of the revenue while the artist gets 10%. If the artist is a big name this percentage might shift to perhaps an 80/20 split.

This means that the vast majority of every dollar we spend on our music goes to the people who create no content and the smallest amount goes to the people who create all the content. The same is true for authors of books as well.

Does this seem right? Not to me it doesn’t. It’s exactly backwards in my opinion. Those that create something of value should always be compensated higher than those that simply facilitate their exposure.

You can have music without distributors but you can’t have distribution without music.