David Byrne explains the streaming music ripoff

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This is why I’ve never even considered paying for a streaming music service. The only people who get my money are Bandcamp and Bleep. If mobile streaming is important to you you can do it from either site, or just setup a SubSonic server.


Big labels have always ripped off artists, their existence is just becoming less and less justifiable.

Spotify should allow artists to come straight to them, and retain the rights to their own music, could be a win-win for both sides.

Bandcamp is better then most alternative services as far as how they treat the artists.


Managers paying artist for their creativity?



Couple of things. One, I love David Byrne if, for no other reason, than that he took the Weird Al ‘Dare to be Stupid’ challenge and won. Repeatedly. Two would be a mention of ‘Be Cool’ Elmore Leonard’s follow up of ‘Get Shorty’ where he laid out exactly why the music industry is like the Mafia. I would think that the RICO laws would apply, but…

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Can you…elaborate?


I’ve never even considered paying for a streaming music service

Do you also avoid radio? Artists don’t get paid for radio plays.

One thing that I’m surprised Byrne doesn’t talk about more (he did mention it) is the equity that Spotify has given the labels. Isn’t Spotify being owned in part by the labels a huge conflict of interest? Forgo royalties, let Spotify grow, and it’s money the labels don’t have to share with artists. Their share is already worth more than a billion dollars.

I occasionally listen to BBC Radio 4, but not for music, and usually just download their podcasts. Radio as a medium for music consumption would not benefit me in any form.

I almost never listen to music on the radio — our radios rarely leave NPR — but there seems to be a practical difference here. Streaming services allow you to choose what songs you want to play, yes? Whereas radio just plays whatever their playlist tells them to (or, in the good old days, whatever the DJ wanted to). If you want to hear that song you just heard on the radio again, you have to find a way to buy it, or sit around hoping they play it again; if you want to hear a streamed song again, you can just click on it. With streaming, unless I misunderstand it terribly (which is always possible!), there doesn’t seem to be any incentive to ever buy music.

Well in order to play songs on demand you usually have to pay for the service so you’re still paying money.

$10/month is the most I’ve paid for music in 15-20 years. Ever since I took a good long look at the thousands of dollars of CDs I own that I never listen to anymore. I’m perfectly fine shelling out $120/year (or perhaps more if I subscribe to more than one service) for music I will never technically own but frankly “owning” music is way overrated.

I suppose this is off-topic though. I would like more of that $120/year to go to the artists I’m listening to.

I think I’ll check out Bandcamp or Bleep per caze’s recommendation.

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Agreed. I can never understand why artists still defend the labels. With all the social media and using the Net as a distribution system, why even bother with the labels and their 19th century approach?

you definitely should! they have good redistribution rates and they support independent artists who often have to maintain day jobs to keep doing what they do. bandcamp has a pretty wide choice of styles and genres, bleep might be a bit too specialised depending on your tastes (but it’s not all weird electronic music).

David Byrne is the man.


Who cares what artists make from recorded play? I know I don’t. That over-protected class of “artists” who can spend a couple hours in the studio and bank for more than a hundred years doesn’t deserve a penny more than what they’re paid already. As the saying goes, that ain’t workin’ - they get their money for nothin’ (and the chicks for free). And they want my sympathy for making a deal with the devil that now isn’t paying them what they think they deserve? Tough luck.

Until a fry cook at Burger King can get intellectual property protection for his “burger-making subroutine,” I say level the playing field and give zero copyprivilege protection to these musicians. Let them play concerts and actually work if they want to keep making money from songs they wrote decades ago.


What is the Weird Al ‘Dare to be Stupid’ challenge?


Soooo, this really isn’t the “streaming music ripoff”, it’s just the old classic “major music label” ripoff, just to a greater degree. The streaming services – which have the highest ongoing operating expenses of any of the involved parties here – take a relatively small piece of the pie, and then the labels – which still exist because why? – take the rest and throw a few crumbs to the artists.

Framing this as though “streaming music” is the culprit unfairly places blame too much on streaming services and not enough on labels.


How much ‘opacity’ are you allowed before it becomes a problem between you and either your accountants or the SEC?

I’m not expecting anyone to start caring about the starving artists in the near future; but our concern for the poor shareholders theoretically imposes some demands.

Yeah what is the “dare to be stupid challenge”, exactly? Google search turns up nothing, or as close to it as Google ever gets! Fess up @beep54orama!


You can sort of get on Spotify directly, with something like Tunecore or CDBaby. Yeah they take a cut, but its reasonable and its transparent.

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This was the impression I’d gotten, admittedly as a very passive consumer in this area, about streaming music services. There is always this vague idea that “streaming is bad for artists and is killing music” or “streaming doesn’t pay.” Scott Auckerman, on Comedy Bang Bang always makes a point to ask musician guests which way people should access their music in order to give them the most money directy, and even then there is no mention of studios. If artists are out there defending the studios it must be either stockholm syndrome or a contract clause…

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