Course blog for American University PERF-570, Fall 2014
What happens when artists demand appropriate compensation for their work? They get called greedy and mean.
To be fair, Taylor Swift is a best selling musician with seven Grammys and many other awards under her belt, but even popular entertainers deserve to have their work financially valued in a way that reflects the creative work that went into it. The problem started when Taytay couldn’t come to a fair contract agreement with Spotify, and did not agree to put her new album, 1989, on the popular music streaming service. I admit, I was pissed when I realized that I couldn’t listen to Tay’s new album on the popular music streaming service. Honestly, what am I paying $9.99 a month for if I can’t listen to Shake It Off endlessly?? I guess what I never realized, is that Spotify pays as little as .006 cents per stream, and as the article points out, you’d have to play a song 167 times for an artist to make even $1 (although I mean, let’s be real, at that rate Taylor would make, like, $10 a day from me…).
Swift joins a long line of artists who have chosen not release their albums through many other means before putting it on Spotify. While fans often find this frustrating, it’s important to remember that each artist, regardless of their fame or wealth, has the right to decide when and how their work is consumed. Online sources for free access to these works (whether legal or illegal) strip this right from artists. At the same time, many artists increasingly are choosing to make their music free and easily available.
The important thing to remember, as the article points out, is that “artists’ rights are workers’ rights. You are not being progressive or radical by denying artists the right to control their own work.”
In current creative practices, artists are experimenting with many ways of making and selling their work. Some of those benefit the consumer, some the artist. But regardless, a big part of working and participating in the arts is permitting artists creative freedom, and that extends to the way they market and sell their work as well.