If you want to listen to music, you usually no longer buy CDs, but use streaming services such as Spotify or YouTube. For many artists, this has major disadvantages – not just financially.
“Music connects”: With this title, the singer Dennis Ebbe tries to buy a ticket to the world of hits. It’s actually going pretty well. The number of hits is increasing, in the “dj hit parade” of the former hit parade moderator, Uwe Huebner, he made it into the top 15
The singer knows the industry, because under his real name Dennis Ebbecke he works, among other things, as a music editor and publisher of a hit magazine. So he is realistic: he will probably earn next to nothing with his song on the streaming services. On average, Spotify pays between 0.0025 and 0.0042 euros per song played – i.e. less than a cent.” Actually, the portals only serve to build awareness,” says Ebbecke. “If you have a high monthly audience on Spotify, then this is a platform to be seen, to get gigs.” With the performances, there is then the opportunity to earn money.
Market share of streaming services at 80 percent
CDs are rarely sold these days. “Streaming is the number one tool in the music industry. The market share in the German music market is currently 80 percent and, according to forecasts, will increase to 90 percent in the next three years,” reports Manfred Rolef, who has worked for many years Head of EMI Music and Sony Music stood and now independently advises and manages musicians.He criticizes that the streaming portals distribute the funds unfairly. “A disproportionately large amount is billed to artists who are already streaming successfully. In addition, the already successful genres of music are more strongly supported by the playlist curators of the services,” said Rolef. In other words: The portals serve the mass taste. For many sub-genres such as adult pop/rock or jazz, there is hardly any attention. Spotify and other streaming services are making more money than ever before. 2020 was the most successful year in the company’s history. The service plans to expand into over 80 other countries. The musicians hardly benefit from it.
Protests against Spotify
In 30 cities around the world, creative people protested against the Spotify streaming service. The “Union of musicians and allied workers” called for this. The union demands fair pay. The remuneration for a single stream should be increased to one cent. At the same time, they are calling for the distribution of the funds to be organized differently. There is currently an opaque pro-rata system. The payout is therefore not made by stream but based on the market share. The well-known superstars in particular benefit from this. The Leverkusen songwriter Arthur Horváth expressed his protest in a song. In the text of the song “Stories” it says: “Hazelnut latte for four euros 50, 9.95 to go to Mäckes. Not two cents for this song, when exactly did that happen?” He criticizes the fact that art and music are hardly valued anymore. Horváth is doing well because he took a stand against streaming services a long time ago. In the past few years, he has sold 50,000 CDs. “At concerts, I always collected the names and addresses of people who bought a CD. In the meantime, tens of thousands of addresses have come together,” says the songwriter. They are real fans who value his music, he says. In streaming services, many users would no longer even notice whose music they were listening to.
“There is always someone who makes it even cheaper”
Horváth infuriates the bad pay. It’s not just about the money. “It’s just about appreciation for things that other people create. The value of things no longer matters to us.” But he also has a haunting message to his colleagues: “Musicians often sell themselves too cheaply. There is always someone who makes it even cheaper. Musicians have to value themselves more.”But there are other problems with the portals: “The streaming platforms can still be manipulated by so-called server farms or bots. It is an open secret that an entire branch of industry specializes in playing songs every 30 seconds Repeat mode ‘to artificially increase the streaming numbers in the rap and hip-hop genre, for example, “says music manager Rolef. This also manipulates payment. All of this breaks the music, says musician Horváth. He fears that at some point there will no longer be this diversity. In his song, he sings: “What are we without stories, what are we without songs, what are we without those who sing and play for us. Over and over again?”