Sigh… I usually don’t comment on what the writings of current pop stars, but this one hits home on a lot of levels.

The business deal is between Apple and the Record Companies / Label.  No one at Apple put any sort of gun to any of the record company’s heads.  My guess is that Apple and the record companies did a lot of back-and-forth with what we see today being the final outcome.  It is a business deal to both sides, nothing more.  Apple will make money selling the hardware and subscriptions, and the record companies will make money off of the artists.  Once the initial three months are up, the record companies will have a steady stream of income.  The record companies already have such deals in place with Spotify, Pandora, iHeartRadio, etc…  If they didn’t like the terms, they could have refused to join, just like in the initial days of iTunes selling downloads.  So, the record companies and Apple are happy with the deal.

The area that Taylor Swift should be examining is the deal between the Artists and the Record Companies.  If the artist don’t like getting played for three months free, then they should be able to opt out, just like she did.  You notice that she didn’t pull ALL of her catalog, just the current one.  She’s not stupid, she knows that there is an opportunity for more exposure and money.

I don’t know if many people understand how record companies work.  It’s an interesting business.  Record companies provide three things to an artist.  One, an initial loan to produce and promote the artist’s first (or next) work.  Two, is the contacts and means to promote and distribute that work.  And three is the contacts to means to do professional package of the work.  There are some really important concepts that most people don’t realize.  The first one is that a record company does not give any money to the artist.  All money upon an artist being signed is ‘front money’.  It is a fancy cash advance.  The artist MUST pay that money back, regardless of how the work does.  A second concept is the value that the record company does have.  The Record Companies have is the contacts to create the music in a professional manor and the contacts to promote the music with radio and internet.  Also, they administer the payments and rights that an artist has.

I’m also a semi professional musician (I get paid for what I do, but not enough to make a living), and see this kind of misunderstanding almost all the time.

We as musicians, painters, dancers, etc… have done this to ourselves.  Trying to make a living as a professional artist is damn near impossible, even if you have talent, drive, looks, fans, etc.  The mentality of ‘do it for the exposure’ is prevalent through the entire industry.  I see show after show where the band works for free for the ‘exposure’.  Personally, I’ve stopped doing those type of gigs.  If I’m good enough to play, then I’m good enough to pay.  And, before someone says ‘charity event’, know this… the sound guy ALWAYS gets paid, I guarantee it.

Ultimately, it all comes down to money.  How much money does the artist generate?  What is it worth for exposure?  What is it worth for the services that a record company does?  I honestly don’t know, I’m not in the business, so my comments can be taken with a grain of salt 🙂

Update… I wrote these thoughts before Apple ‘caved in’ and agreed to pay the RECORD COMPANIES while the free trial period is going on.  Personally I think it’s a lot of crap, because the point is still being missed.  The only ones who will see ANYTHING is the record company.  This is one of the times that I think Apple shouldn’t have backed off.  Altering the business deal because one person, who WASN’T part of the deal, had no knowledge of what was being worked on, etc… is bad precedence.



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