This interview was posted on the Pitched Production & Entertainment website on April 4, 2018. It’s with our very own @ptalbot.
Thanks for sharing Allen!
I’ve been blessed with many interviews and features for the release of the last album (in May this year), this one took a while to get out (was done in April! :))
Congratulations, Pat. I totally agree with your approach to streaming, and your desire to get musicians together in an effort to not give away what they work so hard for.
You have always had a distinctive sound, and I wish you the best with your new release.
Thanks Styles! About the state of the streaming nonsense, I have spend a lot of time checking the facts and my conclusion is that it is hurting indie music, and everything that is not mainstream.
I’ve opted out a while ago for various reasons that I explain here:
I go even further and say it’s not in the interest of anyone in the unsigned world to link to Spotify and co:
I hear people saying that they will end up paying more royalties, but everyone needs to understand that not only will they not pay more, they will pay less and less as times go by. It’s simple arithmetic: the value of a play is = amount of paid subscriptions / amount of tunes on the platform. And every day more and more songs are uploaded at a rate no subscription model is going to compete with.
There’s also a bias on the platform and one way to address that would be to use a different redistribution model, for example read:
What’s true for Jazz, Soul and Classical in this article is even more true for unsigned music. Whatever is out of the mainstream (and not “sponsored” via Spotify algorithm paid by big label) gets hurt in the long term.
Also note that the false pretense that Spotify was the savior of music because it killed pirating is just BS:
*weird that these 3 links show the same when they are pointing to 3 different blog posts. Hopefully you can get to them…
There are some propositions to make it more ethical, especially an ethical pool that could help. Here’s an article that goes into the details of that proposition:
Anyway, there’s lots to be said about streaming, and tons of artists and even fans unsatisfied with the current state of the business. I believe artists should stand for a fair redistribution, and until there is some major changes, I don’t want anything to do with it. As usual, YMMV
Very enjoyable read! I’m so elated for you Patrick, to have made a mark and gained an established presence. And I’m also delighted to have had a front-row seat in your musical evolution during the years of your regular presence in BTR. You’re setting a great example. More power to you my friend!!
Thanks Dave! TBH I’m far from making any mark, after a couple of years of incessant presence on various social medias and networking with countless radios/blogs in the indie world, I can tell you that I’m nowhere near where I thought I could be… My next move could be to wear a cowboy hat, and/or turn Christian and do some Country Rock, or paint myself in black and rap it up, or have some sex change, heavy plastic surgery and pass myself as a teenage lollypop girl, maybe that’ll work???
It’s a crazy world out there!
Would we then get to see a picture of you?
Hey, getting interviewed multiple times is a mark! But I do understand that it is hard work, and requires a lot of time and commitment. All the more reason to salute your example.
Yes, I did get some great reviews, articles and interviews, so I’m happy about that for sure.
Yeah that’s interesting that you’ve opted out of streaming. I love streaming so much as a consumer, and as an artist it has never bothered me about how little I’m paid per stream. I’ve always had a mindset of just wanting as many eyes/ears as I could get, so I want my music to be easily available. I’m not relying on it financially, and I figure that the best way to eventually make a decent amount of money would be to have a good amount of fans. So I see it as building up a fan base first, (while not making any money,) then monetize the fan base in creative ways. If you’ve got 100,000 streams on Spotify maybe that’s only $400, but it’s also 100,000 times that your songs have been listened to. To me that’s worth a lot, because every single time a person listens to one of my songs, they become a little bit more invested in me as an artist.
Maybe in 5 years I can tell you whether it worked or not, lol. It’s a similar mindset though to what I read about in a book called Crushing It. The main idea being that you work your ass off for a number of years, just giving as much value as you can and building a following, and then at some point you’ll be ready to monetize it.
Streaming isn’t a good way to make money. But I think that if you have an audience that cares about you and values what you do, then if you ask them to buy your CD, they will buy your CD. When I put out my EP a couple of years ago, some of my fans bought it. Nobody had to buy it. It was all on YouTube, and on Spotify, and I have a free download link on my website. I also had a “pay what you want,” button, and I got varying amounts of money sent to me. Somebody sent me $100. A couple of weeks ago I played a free video game that I really enjoyed, and went back to donate a few bucks to the creator. My point being that streaming isn’t what will support an artist–it’s their fans. And if I can help my fans to listen to my music by making it available to stream, I’m going to do it. Anyway, I know this thread isn’t about streaming, but that’s the bit I got really interested in and wanted to reply to.
There probably is some magic formula where streaming is to your benefit, but I haven’t figured it out. My sister’s twin sons have a band, Makari, with an indie label promoting them. They have a ton of social media hits. If they could zero in on their passionate fans and get $2 from each of them they would be doing very well.
I think what it all boils down to is indentifying your passionate fans and giving them chances to grow with you. Streaming might get you noticed, but selling your music directly to people who already love you seems far more efficient. You need to find your niche audience and figure out how to grow the base from people who can become part of your project. Don’t give your art away unless there is a direct path that gives it value through some direct tie in.
My main issue with Spotify and others is an ethical one: Not only do they not redistribute the wealth to the creators, but when they do, they do it unfairly (see the ethical pool idea), and they also perpetuate the idea that music should be free, and in my view they do it in a way that devalues music in the mind of the public.
And note that I truly don’t care about the money myself, I sell most of my music for charity anyway. In any case, I’m too old for this shit and know full well that I’m not going anywhere with it. I’m mostly sad for younger artists who are talented, yet struggling to get ends meet, and I fear this is only going to get worse.
Now I often hear the argument that “you should be there to get heard, grow a following” etc.
Truth is that most unsigned artists get heard on these platform from links they have themselves promoted! It sure isn’t coming from the algorithm that favorite big labels artists (because big labels pay big money to ensure that) and mainstream music. 90% of the plays on these platforms are coming from 1% of the top artists, the 99% others are just “collateral damage”.
Even when you get played, you have no idea how and who did, you get vague geographical and age group stats that tell you nothing about how to reach these potential fans. Actually there’s no guarantee that they have played your music, a lot of the stats are bogus and a play is as much as a couple of seconds then skip, does that make a fan?
My ethical issue is also about the practices of platforms that get rich while acting as the gatekeepers of what people should listen to, pushing their algorithms and giving away your music as a way to grow themselves to push more of their algorithmic-ally chosen few, as driven by ties with the big 3 labels.
You could say this was always the case, and it’s just “the new boss”… Is it the “same as the old boss”? I think it’s way worse.
The reality is that with music being devalued to almost nothing (and certainly nothing in the mind of most of the public), artists struggle more and more, ticket prices go sky high, a lot of venues close, radios are shutting down, blogs get less and less readers because people “discover” their music with playlists, it’s the whole music business which is disrupted, and we’re going to be left with Silicon Valley as the sole actor in the music business… I don’t think I want that.
All the while these platforms get more powerful by the day and create a monopoly, just like Amazon is crushing everything and everyone in the retail business and creates a monopoly.
The convenience that this creates has a dark downside and it’s up to everyone to evaluate whether it’s something they care about. Personally I think that if artists where saying no, and pushing their music on their own platforms (website) or ethical places (Bandcamp for example), then this could create a wave that could change things, instead of going with the flow and thinking that “that’s how it is”, “we can’t change that”, artists removing their music from these platforms would expose that these platforms are nothing without the creators and their music.
You could say that it would only change if major artists make the move, but in their case, they are not ultimately making the decision, their labels are. So it’s up to unsigned artists, again, to lead the way.
When fans are aware of the fact that the money they pay with their subscriptions (when they do) doesn’t really go to the artists they have listened to, they get angry, and rightly so… You wouldn’t like the money you paid to see a local band at a local venue to go to Kanye West or Ariana Grande, would you? Yet, that’s exactly what happens with streaming…
I think it’s up to artists to educate their fans and tell them what is wrong with the business. When people ask me why I’m not on Spotify or others, this is when I can tell them why and get them to know the underlying truth of what streaming really means.
These platforms have broken the direct link between fans and artists and to say that it’s a way to get a following and fans is wishful thinking IMHO.
In the end, it’s up to anyone to weight the supposed benefits against the ethical issues and decide whether you want your music on these platforms, thus condoning their practices, which means telling your fans that it’s OK to use them and let your fans believe they are supporting you when streaming, which is a lie.
As I said, I don’t care about myself in that perspective, so it’s an easy decision to choose not to go with the flow. I understand though that it’s a lot less easy when you are an up and coming artist to decide that you don’t want to participate in the general consensus.
It’s truly a case of YMMV
Very cool Congrats Pat on the interview. Also, the post ^ there sums the music biz up perfectly glade you wrote it and not me as it would of took me a few days to write…
Thanks Jerze! Actually it took me about 2 years of research into the subject of streaming, and discussions with many people in the indie world: artists, radios, blogs, venue owners, promoters and fans, to articulate my views on this!
Thanks for your hard work, Pat. Your insight into streaming is presented logically and realistically.
I have been writing, playing and producing music for roughly 40 years. In the beginning, it was all about getting a major label deal. At that time, (the late 70’s), deals were still available, but if you didn’t get enough from the label, you had a very small chance of success, since the initial deal would only cover recording an album, and leaving nothing for promotion.
Today, you can record and promote 40 years of experience for a relatively small investment, but you are competing with millions of “artists” for the attention, and hopefully some monetary reward from random listeners all over the world who have unlimited access to free music from millions of bedroom studios.
This means if you want to “make it”, you need to become a 24 hour promotion company to amass enough followers who will not only pay you the princely sum of .009 cents per stream but also buy your T-shirt and pay the cover charge to see your hopelessly under promoted club concert gig, to pay for the gas to get to the next one. This turns talented musicians, by necessity, into 24 hour a day inexperienced marketing companies, diluting the whole reason they became musicians in the first place.
It all boils down to a harsh reality: unless you truly love being a musician, and you are willing to work like a dog for next to nothing, you are in the wrong business. I am very happy for all the indie artists who have become successful, but from a financial standpoint you are better off playing penny slots in Vegas,