Salon's Scott Timberg has a piece about the grim financial straits in which many jazz and classical musicians find themselves due to poor payouts from streaming services like Spotify and Pandora. Man, is it depressing.
But between low royalties, opaque payout rates, declining record sales and suspicion that the major labels have cut deals with the streamers that leave musicians out of the equation, anger from the music business’s artier edges is slowing growing. It’s further proof of the lie of the “long tail.” The shift to digital is also helping to isolate these already marginalized genres: It has a decisive effect on what listeners can find, and on whether or not an artist can earn a living from his work. (Music streaming, in all genres, is up 42 percent for the first half of this year, according to Nielsen SoundScan, against the first half of 2013. Over the same period, CD sales fell 19.6 percent, and downloads, the industry’s previous savior, were down 11.6 percent.)...
[Indie labels] have been largely left out of the sweet deals struck with the streamers. Most of those deals are opaque; the informed speculation says that these arrangement are not good for musicians, especially those not on the few remaining majors.
Jazz historian Ted Gioia offers one possible solution to this seemingly hopeless situation. He says labels, in conjunction with their artists, need "to control their own streaming.... They need to work together with a new model, to control distribution and not rely on Apple, Amazon and everyone else. The music industry has always hated technology—they hated radio when it came out—and have always dragged their feet. They need to embrace technology and do it better.”
Do any jazz and classical musicians out in Slogland have any anecdotes to relate re: your own streaming payments?