7 reasons why music should be paid for

7 reasons why music should be paid for

Before Spotify, people really never paid for music. Illegal downloads and streaming has always been and will always be a big part of the game, and musicians cant’ really do much to fight this as the websites offering copyrighted materials get closed and manage to re-open within days from their server seizures.

It may seem incredible but when a musician asks legit money for his music he gets called off: “Give it for free – everybody does that, and you’re not even famous. Also, I don’t have money to spend on intangible things. And what about if I buy it and I don’t like it?!” . And the list goes on and on….

I’m sure you found yourself inside those conversations at least once in your lifetime – and as a non-professional musician, struggling to afford gear and pay studio rates, the blood starts boiling when you hear things such as “Doing music is not that hard anyway, so why we have to pay to listen to it?”.

To cool you down, here are 7 valid arguments you can use in your next debate:

1. Music is cheap

4€ to buy lives for Candy Crush, hundreds of euros for a smartphone and you’re telling me that you don’t have 99 cents for a song? App developers managed to earn millions with simple games and people spent a huge amount of money for extras and bonus items while the music market was shattered to the ground –  coincidence? I think not.

2. Creating music is a job

It’s not like the music appears overnight under your pillow in exchange of one of your teeth. To record and produce an album (or even a single song) is a LOT of work, involving a lot of people who deserve to be paid and that will eventually use equipment (digital and hardware) that costs an insane amount of money. And at the end of the day, you’re complaining about the price of a coffee.

3. Music lasts a lifetime

Having a nice dinner or vacation with your beloved ones is a great experience – many memories to keep in your heart and framed in picture to remember the good ol’ days, when you were still hitting the gym and not doing remote control push-ups as your only fitness activity. But let’s be honest: a vacation after is done, is gone. A music record, that costs a fraction of that, will stay in your hands (or cloud) and you can listen to it again every time you want, discovering new details, forming new opinions on the songs you didn’t like at first etc.

4. Feedback and glory can’t be turned into bread and milk

Do we really have to explain that one? Giving constructive feedback and “liking” your favorite artist’s Facebook page will cheer him – but he’s not going to pay his rent with likes and nice words. Support the musician in order to give him the opportunity to create more music!

5. Music is a bond for people

What would a life without music be? Probably a sad one. Think about all the camp fires, the street musicians, festivals and gig. Music is one of the strongest form of social linking and relationship building and I’m 101% sure that this world would collapse without it.

6. Your internet connection is not a music subscription

Many legal streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer etc are offering premium plans to their users and are distributing royalties to the artists. Sure, we all know that the rates are criminally low, but this is still better than getting absolutely nothing when somebody torrents your album out. Finding things on the internet easily and for free doesn’t mean it’s ethically OK.

7. Musicians spend an insane amount of money

And not on booze and girls. A musician pays for his main instrument, his music lessons, training, rehearsal room rates, studio rates, live equipment, amplifiers – the list goes on and on and trust me: 99 cent for a track is nothing compared to the sum that an average musician spends.

Do you agree with us? Do you have a different point of view? Let us know with a comment!

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Simon's passion for music generated a long time ago, when his parents used to playback records from Queen, Led Zeppelin and... ABBA!

13 comments

    Anda todo o mundo a brincar com a Musica e com os Músicos 🙁

    “Before Spotify, people really never paid for music.”

    This is nonsense. I remember regularly buying vinyl albums (at least weekly), then CDs, independently-produced cassette tapes, followed by independent CD albums.

    Before Spotify, people bought a physical rendering of the music.

    As I understand it, Spotify offers a licence to play music: you never own a physical copy of the music. This is why artists receive only a miniscule payment for each play of their work.

    A single download nets me $0.57 (approx 45p) so I need to sell about a dozen to pay for one set of guitar strings. I’m not in this for the money but it would be nice to be able to break even!

    Many of us who make music do not make records, we only perform live. Equipment costs, rehersal costs, travel costs, to name only the most evident costs. Still, we are often offered the opportunity to perform for free, or more generously, for even a beer and a sandwich. Annoying. Sadly, some seem to be so eager to perform that they will accept this kind of offers, and in doing so, spoiling the market for those who have to play for a living.

    ‘As I understand it, Spotify offers a licence to play music: you never own a physical copy of the music. This is why artists receive only a miniscule payment for each play of their work.’ ..

    Well Nick, you do realise all people have to do is stream the song once and save their own hard copy as it plays on their laptop don’t you? Any decent laptop has a ‘record what you hear’ setting on the soundcard/mic.. or just use a mobile phone..
    A permanent ‘physical copy’ to the listener at a ‘miniscule’ fee as you put it, ‘reward’ to the creator/artist. Then guess what.. they share it with their mates!
    Streaming is robbing musicians blind!
    Would an artist be expected to let people hang their painting on their wall at home for as little as 0.10c .. to hell they would! Yet this is what happens with streaming.. the streamer gets to have access to that music whenever they want and the musician gets paid next to nothing for it! ..so this argument about ‘never owning a hard copy’ just doesn’t wash.
    Streaming sites make millions (at least) out of people streaming music while the musicians make an absolute pittance from all the work it’s took to make that music.. I know because of the amount I get from the likes of Spotify etc when some streams a song. It’s pathetic!
    It should be the other way round and that should tell you everything.

    Music is being paid for, as can be seen with people still – in this age of streaming and piracy and ‘robbing musicians – making a living with music.
    To me these kinds of articles seem to imply that somehow music always has a monetary value in itself, and that a musician, by the virtue of having made a song, should absolutely get a huge paycheck for their efforts. Or, simply put, we all deserve more somehow.

    This is all consumer politics and capitalism. The amount of money a musician will charge for their music, be it live or recordings or what ever, should be up to the musician. And it is. No one will stop you from pressing your new album on vinyl and selling them for 50€ a piece. That should get you a better theoretical profit margin, opposed to Spotify for example.
    On the other hand, the amount of money a listener is willing to pay for the music he/she is listening has always been, and should always be, up to the listener. If you should fail to move your stuff for a great deal of money, then obviously your stuff is widely valued less by the consumer/listener.
    The last record I bought was the new lp from a Finnish rap group, which I got from the local retailer. It cost me 20€ and I feel that it was 20€ well spent. At this very moment I am listening to the debut album of a certain Finnish punk/rock group on Spotify, since I haven’t as of today felt that the 20€ standard price tag for a vinyl record in this case is justified.
    The fact that you pick up an instrument and form a band and make music, and indeed pay for everything that comes with it, doesn’t mean you deserve anything. You get back what you get back, but often enough it’s not money. Infact, if a paycheck is the first thing (or the second, or third, or n’th) you think when grabbing your instrument, then maybe you should try something else, like studying real hard instead.
    I’ve played and performed for roughly 10 years now, and I continue to do so, because I seem to enjoy it, but I can’t say I’ve made my money back. But I truly fail to feel bad about it, or bitter, or that I deserve more money. I’m not sure I even deserve the occasional 10€ I get from the occasional gig.

    Jack, let me tell you.. I’ve been playing in bands for over 30 years. I began playing music as a child for the love of it. Then when I was good enough I decided I wanted to make a career of it.. not the other way round.
    I’ve released six albums so far. Four in bands and 2 as a solo artist. The last two I’ve sold online as well as in CD format (the first two were on cassette!) so I like to think I know what I’m on about…
    I dont claim to deserve anything just for buying gear or making music. But I do deserve proper reward for my music if people choose to buy it.
    What you seem to be missing, is that it’s not just the actual song that’s being paid for.. it’s the time, creativity, effort, talent and hard work that’s gone into making that music.
    When someone buys a song, they are buying all of that. The song just doesn’t pop out of thin air for people to say ‘that sounds good..’
    It’s the complete end product and everything that’s gone into making it.
    You get your car repaired you pay labour costs.. not just for parts.. why any different with musicians?
    You are completely wrong when you say musicians have control over the pricing of their music.. not on streaming sites we don’t. Anyone who has songs on them knows exactly what I mean.
    The site sets the price and what the musician gets from each stream. We don’t get a choice.
    Yes, the listener should have a choice WHETHER they are willing to pay the price for that music.. but not to set the price they are willing to pay.
    You can’t have it both ways – i.e. the musician decides what to charge and the consumer decides what to pay?!
    It’s one or the other, and as the creator, the musician should decide the price, the consumer decides if they want to pay it. That’s how it should work
    Unfortunately, with streaming sites, THEY decide the price. Not the musician.
    At best, when you upload singles/albums for download you get 2 or 3 opotions for setting a price – but this doesn’t apply to streaming ( none that I’ve come across anyway).
    So, sorry, you’re way off the mark fella.
    You may enjoy playing live and fair play to you.. but there’s some of us in this business working our arses off day in day out to make a serious career of it without being took the p*ss out of by streaming sites who don’t give a sh*t about musicians – just what they can make out of their work by charging huge percentages on streaming while paying the musician a pittance for their work.

    App developers earn nothing when was the last time you paid for an android app.

    I don’t have any of these subscription things. If I like a song I buy it on my iTunes. I stay faithful to my favourite artists and buy their albums. Music shouldn’t be free would like no better but to see these torrent services closed down but it’s an impossibility unless people stop using them and the people providing the services get hefty fines for it. Talking double what they get fined now. Actually to discourage the people downloading should be done too.

    Andy:

    First of all, I want to give a disclaimer, that everything I say are basically just deliberations on my personal ethical views regarding music as business / music vs. business. I’m a student and I don’t really know the concept of making money, much less a career. (That said I do occasionally work as a freelance writer in order to support my craft beer habit.) Consider me a brat with ideals. Anyway, the last thing I want to do is diss or devalue anyone’s artistic output.

    Now, you seem to have two converging point in your text. First, the work being paid for. Second, the appropriate payment for the work.

    Yes, there is always “time, creativity, effort, talent and hard work” put into any given song that pops on in the media of one’s choosing. I know that for a fact because I write songs, though in my case you might want to scratch the word talent. There is artistic intent though.

    But from a listeners standpoint, when I decide to buy a record or just put a record record on, I absolutely do not concern myself with the hours put behind it (unless were talking about some conceptual art kinda thing). I don’t think about the hours in the studio and the electric bill of the rehearsal space, and I’m not paying for them. I concern myself with the music and the experience of receiving it, and only that. And if I’m paying for something, that is it. (Though, heartbreaking as it is to admit, in case of me paying for Spotify, it’s really paying for the ads to go away.) If I was paying for the hours, I’d be paying 1000€ for a Genesis record and 5€ for a Minor Threat one, but I’m not.
    As for your car repair analogy, I would say that musicians can get paid by the hours, if you’re for example doing a tv gig or you’re a studio musician; you’ll be paid to do your job, but I don’t think we’re talking about that.
    As creative entities, as artists, we are not the worker on the garage floor, but the person owning the place and paying for the upkeep, and if the people don’t find our services satisfactory, they will take their business elsewhere, and we will go under. Again, it is the person seeking service on having his/her car repaired, who will consider the price we, the garage owning people, are asking for our services, and decide if it is appropriate for him/her to pay. In the end of the day he/she will only want to have his/her car up and running again. And this gets us to appropriate payment.

    Ofcourse you will get a fixed rate on pretty much anything you put out through channels that are anything other than your self. But what I was trying to say is that in the end there’s nothing stopping you from bypassing those channels. Feel like Spotify is ripping you off? Don’t put your music up there. Feel like the label’s royalties suck? Do it yourself. Bypassing standard platforms will give you the option of charging what ever you want from your output. It’s another thing, though, if the listeners will find your demands reasonable.

    Streaming platforms are a part of the machinery of todays music business, but the fact is that music business has always been business, and business is concerned with generating profit. Let’s say you have 10 000€ to distribute between musicians or bands or what have you. Out of a thousand groups a record label signs one Beatles, who get’s the cash, because it is decided that by some arbitrary virtue they will be most likely to make the money back. Now, if one was a member of such Beatles one might say, they were rightfully paid for their efforts. But what about the other 999 bands that could’ve just as well been the one? Are they right to feel f*cked over?
    Now, on the other hand you’ll have a 1000 bands on Spotify, out of which, in the listeners’s standpoint, no one stands out in particular, and in the end of the day they each receive a check of 10€. Is that not enough?
    Spotify makes millions in streaming music, because that’s the idea behind having a business. The money that is left for the musicians to be had is not infinite, but in todays world the groups being paid pretty much is. But they do get exposure and maybe a gig out of town, where people dig their stuff, and maybe they get kind of known and eventually pay their rents with the music they play. And that seems pretty fair to me.
    Music continues to be a multi billion dollar market, where the listener is the consumer; that is a testament to music being paid for. In the end it’s a question of how money is being distributed back to performers/musicians/bands, and today there are a ton of band around.

    I guess I’ve always been a listener of music first and a player of music second, so that might be why I get defensive when the blame for the hardship of modern musicians is put on the stingy listener. My tastes are varied and money limited, so it’s pretty much pennies or nothing from me. As a musician my output is mostly experimental rock – music of limited audience – but free streaming platforms like youtube and bandcamp etc. pretty much got my band abroad and on stage in a certain huge hipster festival, so I kinda have to feel grateful for the people who didn’t pay a dime for listening to my music. Which I paid for them to be there to listen.

    Lastly I would like to applaud you for the guts it takes to pursue a profession in the arts. What a silly, foolhardy thing to do! And I should add that I will myself go for a career in writing once I’m out of uni. Fingers crossed. Though I’m sure that a pittance is an accurate assessment of my future salaries as well.

    I agree with Nick – the bold paragraph is kind of absurd (unless you were born after 2000, maybe then it makes more sense).

    Anyway saying that the musicians make money of Spotify and such is an overstatement because the money from straming is laughable. That’s probably why music today is of such poor quality (I’m sorry but it just is). It’s kind of like Chinese merchandise – cheap – in every way.

    Not much an individual, who really wants to support their favorite musicians, can do really. You can try and buy the music at the source (impossible in most cases) but still billions of other people will keep listening to music not really paying the artists for their hard work.

    “We used to concert our asses of to be able to record an album. Now it’s the other way around.” – Tomasz “Lipa” Lipnicki. That’s, what I think, is the main reason bands are able to aford to keep going on.

    Toncrete:

    “Quality” of music is all subjective and the assumption of musical quality as something quantifiable is silly. The fact is that music, like any brand of art, is endlessly evolving and reflective of the surrounding culture and societal circumstances. The historical notions of so called “golden era” of popular music, that canonize certain periods of popular music and artist serve nostalgy, which I guess is natural to us human beings. Doesn’t really mean anything, though.

    Regardless, if someone would want to value music by some quantifiable set of principles, one should come to realize, that popular music can’t hold a candle to the complexities of the music in classical canon, say Beethoven for one.

    This is coming from a person who thinks Led Zeppelin is the best group there ever was, obsesses with Japanese drone music and is enthusiastic about new Justin Bieber singles.

    99p for a single that you can enjoy over and over again? sounds a deal to me. I don’t like it though when people illegally download or even buy just one or two tracks off an album of say 12 tracks because then that album loses its meaning cohesion and storytelling flow. An album is a fixed body of work.

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