7 royalty cheques that’ll make you lose your faith in the music industry

This aricle explains how online streaming services such as Spotify and Pandora are not making enough money to pay their artist a substantial amount of money in royalties.  They do give their artists 70% of what they make but as stated below that is a very small about of money per artist.  Each time a song streams on their site the artist only gets between one-sixth and one-eight of a cent.  Since the digital boom, records sales have not been the same.  Now artists need to rely on live shows and tours to make most of their revenue.  The article says, “an artist requires nearly 50,000 plays to receive the revenue earned from one album sale”. This is shocking in many ways.  It is unimaginable to think about how many plays a song would need to match the profits of how well a record did when it was sold on the shelves.  As a result huge artists are getting cheques for a penny to a dollar.

Online streaming is a great thing but we need to find a way for the artists to profit from it.  I think that these artists should be getting higher royalties for their music being streamed online.  Now that the Internet is a dominant force and will continue to be a dominant force in the music industry we need to create new ways for the artists to be paid.  Yes, free services are great for the consumer’s but they need to think about the artists who are putting out their work for your entertainment.  The use of the Internet is only going to get stronger.  This articles shows how the music industry has changed and will continue to change in the future. We need to learn how to grow the music industry with it. 

  Online streaming is a great thing but we need to find a way for the artists to profit from it.  I think that these artists should be getting higher royalties for their music being streamed online.  Now that the Internet is a dominant force and will continue to be a dominant force in the music industry we need to create new ways for the artists to be paid.  Yes, free services are great for the consumer’s but they need to think about the artists who are putting out their work for your entertainment.  The use of the Internet is only going to get stronger.  This articles shows how the music industry has changed and will continue to change in the future. We need to learn how to grow the music industry with it. 

Shirt the Rapper’s Fake New York Times Stunt

Arielle Castillo’s article “Meet Shirt, the Rapper with the Ultimate Viral Stunt” was really interesting to me for several reasons. For one, it provides some great insight into how musicians are marketing themselves these days. The music industry is coming up on a major turning point with all the controversy surrounding digital music and royalties and, as with any industry, you have to play the game if you want to stay on top. Shirt, like several other artists, is one who has adapted to today’s music industry trends by getting tech savvy and reaching out to fans in a new and interesting way. His fake New York Times website is genius in my opinion simply because it’s something different. Any artist that has the guts to step out of the box and do some guerrilla marketing is definitely deserving of the attention they receive for doing so. In today’s industry, it’s hard to stand out when every major artist has the same Vevo ads or the same features in commercials. I think Shirt’s fake web site was a smart move because no one else is doing it; therefore, he gets points for uniqueness and attracts new fans that might not have given him a second thought before. I think it’s important for listeners these days to see the artist going out of their way to market themselves; personally, that’s definitely something I respect about certain artists. When Beyoncé came out with her ‘surprise’ video album, everyone loved it because it was something that no one else is doing. She didn’t even have to market the album that much because she created so much buzz for doing something unique. I think the music industry would do well to support such creativity in artists; if someone is going out of their way to market themselves rather than paying for ad space like everyone else, it says something about their commitment to their craft. I would like to see more creativity from artists in terms of stuff like this because it not only makes for a better experience when you listen to their music but could also spark some friendly competition between artists in how they market themselves.

“7 royalty cheques that’ll make you lose your faith in the music industry”






I am not at all surprised by the almost non-existent money artists are receiving from royalties, especially from online radio like Pandora or Spotify. I believe it is important to note, which the article does, that these online radios are dishing out 70% of revenue back to the artist. On both the artist and the online radios ends money isn’t being made. I think it’s important to note that online radio like Pandora or Spotify were created with idea of spreading music faster, for small or lesser known bands to reach a wider audience. I use Pandora to listen to bands similar to the music I already enjoy, this in turn will lead me to purchase a full length album or EP or see them live. Spotify is a little different, but definitely allows an artists music to travel faster and become more popular. 

I am by no means saying there is no downside to online streaming, but in this digital world, it has become increasingly more normal. In a way it almost makes musicians more competitive. If people are hearing your music free online, you really have to be captivating enough to create a following of people willing to give you money. This is definitely burdensome to the artists but the sad fact is illegal download and file sharing is not going anywhere. Many musicians and producers have proclaimed “Digital Freedom” and release all of their music for free online. The entire Pretty Lights Label releases their music for free. The label was started by Derek Vincent Smith (aka Pretty Lights) and only for his most recent album did he release it for money.  This choice and the album was received by only love and support from his fans- even earning him a grammy nomination.

Online sharing is concern for many art forms, not just music. Movies, television, computer programs etc are all readily available. For me, if I hear something I love and it listened to for free via a music blog, soundcloud, internet radio, or file sharing I do my best to support that artist in other ways, especially going to their shows or spreading the word about their music. I am constantly reading music blogs and every blog with a soundcloud music player with the music in question gets posted to every social media outlet, shared, emailed, etc and their music is spread faster than wildfire. 

I definitely feel artists should be receiving more royalties but I also think online streaming should be viewed more as an outlet for musicians to allow more people to hear their music. In the end, obviously an artist wants to make a living off of their music but that shouldn’t be their main goal, it should be about sharing their music with others for the love of music. 

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Response to “7 royalty cheques that’ll make you lose your faith in the music industry”

This article by Mark Tao for aux.tv points out the failed revenue generation of streaming music services for artists.  It shows seven royalty checks mailed to artists for online streams of their songs, all of which are under $2.  The music industry is not paying musicians what it once did for their work, showcasing a new avenue to graph the downfall of the industry and the dire conditions artists are in to pay their rent let alone pay to produce a new album. 

As a modern music connoisseur, I personally buy every CD I want to listen to instead of buying it off iTunes or illegally downloading it from the Internet.  I choose to do this because I want to support my favorite bands, but not everyone sees this as important and my $10 probably isn’t helping the band out much in the long run.  Yet bands still produce albums despite the low monetary returns.  There can’t be too much of a problem as we still see new music every day and artists still have the ability to make it big, although the definition of success might be different now.

I have a Spotify account, the streaming music service claiming to defeat piracy but which often blamed for taking advantage of artists and profiting off their use of music instead of giving more back to the artists.  In a world where we have access to everything at our fingertips, Spotify and competing services are a staple in most peoples lives; its where they listen to the music they love, find out about bands the might like, check out playlists created by others and share the music they love.  I am aware of how little artists are paid for their work, but I ask now, how much would they make if these services didn’t exist?  We know that the average person most likely wont buy a song when they can download it for free.

It is obvious that the music industry has changed, and with change comes confusion and anger.  I don’t blame artists for being upset over such small royalty checks; making music is their job and they should be able to make a living off of doing so.  It is my opinion, however, that streaming music services benefit musicians by way of getting their music to people who would never have heard it otherwise.  Money is no longer made from album sales, not as a result of the popularity of Spotify but because of the easy access to illegal downloading.  Artists now earn their salary from touring and licensing their music for television, movies, video games and advertisements.  A person hears a song played on their favorite TV show, looks it up online and listen to the album.  Then they find a second album by the band.  Then they check the bands touring dates and decide to see them at their local music venue. 

Aware as I am that the current model the music industry is working on isn’t perfect, I think we need to look all around the industry instead of only at streaming providers.  We all know that independent artists can make it in this model, just look at Macklemore.  There needs to be a change that makes artists happy in a world obsessed with convenience.  I suggest asking big music labels how much of song royalties they withhold, or venues making it possible for bands to tour more extensively and successfully.  But I don’t think artists should give up on streaming music providers just yet.  While the music industry may be seen as dying, music will never disappear nor will those whose life is making it.  

7 royalty cheques that’ll make you lose your faith in the music industry

Upon reading this article I was very surprised and somewhat appalled to see how little money some musicians are making from streaming music sources such as Spotify and Pandora.  Even when such artist’s songs are getting over a million plays the payment is still way, way, too low.  An example of this is Camper Van Beethoven, whose song “Low” was streamed more than 1.1 million times yet the payment was only $16.89.  That is absurd compared to the amount of times the song was streamed.  On the other hand I don’t expect relatively unknown bands and artists to receive enormous amounts of money from such streaming sources due to low play counts, but as I just stated even bands that are getting up to a million plays are only making under $20.00.  Something is wrong with that.  The exchange rate in terms of amount contributed to musician royalties per stream needs to be increased dramatically.  Although session players are less prominent to receive substantial royalties, they deserve a sizeable cut if the songs are being streamed frequently as well.  What’s the point of getting a check for 4 cents like session player Bryan Ray received, or 1 cent, which was received by Darkest Hour guitarist Mike Schleibaum.  I don’t know the timeframe that these checks pertain to or how many plays the respective songs got but I know they deserve a lot more than 1 and 4 cents.  If this is the way of the future for how the public consumes music it is downright wrong to be able to exploit artists and musicians in such a way.  They need to be rewarded properly for their music being streamed by upwards of a million people.  It’s simply not fair to the artists who put in all the time to create their music, to not be rewarded for doing so, especially in cases when millions of people are streaming their music.  That being said it is obvious that this needs to be changed as soon as possible to create hire rates to reward artists properly and give them the amount of royalties they actually deserve.  In the end they have to make a living.

Alex N.

Shirt The Rapper: Risky yet Successful Publicity Stunt

In the article, “Meet Shirt, the Rapper With the Ultimate Viral Stunt: An Entire Fake New York Times Web Site” by Arielle Castillo, it explains how the music industry is heavily reliant on social media. The rap artist Shirt, Went above any other artist has ever done and created a fake New York Times website and article that was said to be written by “the ultimate mainstream press kingmaker” Jon Caramanica praising, promoting and highlighting Shirt and his music, however it was Shirt posing as Caramanica. He knew that he had to take this step in order to get attention. He wasn’t going to get the publicity and buzz he needed without the help of a major writing contributor, therefore he took matters into his own hands and cut right to the chase in making this fake, but very accurate and identical website to what a site on the New York times would have actually looked like. He had the layout and writing down to a science, analyzing it ever so carefully, making sure it looked and sounded legit. 

Although the music industry may be taking a turn for the worst, artist never stop trying. With technology constantly evolving, it is hard for artists and writing contributors to keep up with all the options. It is especially hard for artists today to reach audiences because of the vast technology, as audiences can filter what they want to see and hear. I really enjoyed reading this article because I personally have never heard of anything like this being done. Although it is risky, it got Shirt the attention he needed, making his stunt successful. If artists are passionate enough about their music and believe that they can make an impact in the music scene, it will happen eventually. Shirt was able to go on to website and specifically be able to share what he wants audiences to see. In the article, Shirt explains how he believes writing about artists music is the most important, and effective way for people to explore and share music. I believe that it is important for striving artists to work together to make their work heard. To make the situation better for artists, one might consider making a mainstream website by artists and for artists supporting each other while also raising major attention to music publicity.


Nearly non-existent checks from music streaming services

Upon reading the aux.tv article, “7 royalty cheques that’ll make you lose your faith in the music industry,” I was fairly surprised, but not shocked, at how little these checks are that music streaming services are writing for artists. I was sort of aware before reading this that almost no payment was coming from streamed music because of how new it is and how hard it is to monetize. But still, it was surprising. Checks for only a few dollars or even just a few pennies seem pointless and almost insulting to even write. It’s an interesting problem and one in which it’s hard to find someone/something to blame. As it first says in the article, Spotify paid out 70 percent of its revenue to royalties, so its not like they’re just hoarding all this money and ripping off the artists, they just don’t make enough money to pay them simply off advertising and whatever other revenue streams they have. Although it sucks that artists put in a lot of hard work, time and money to make great music just to have it be uploaded for free streaming, there just isn’t much that can be done in this format without big changes. And by ‘big changes’ I mean mandatory paid subscriptions taking the place of signing up for free. This obviously would need to be more complicated than it sounds to ensure that musicians get paid appropriately but I think that’s a good start in getting them the money they deserve. I know I’ve heard of Google and Apple working on something like this where you pay a monthly/yearly fee and you have unlimited access to their libraries for streaming without downloading. It seems like a pretty good idea especially if it’s a small fee people wouldn’t mind paying. In the modern music industry things are changing so fast and its so hard to keep up but still, some measures need to be made to ensure the artists releasing their work in this generation get proper compensation for it…because checks for a few cents are just ridiculous.

What’s Happening to the Music Industry?

The article I read was “7 royalty cheques that’ll make you lose your faith in the music industry.” The article was shocking, but somewhat not surprising.  The article discussed the extremely low rates artists are currently receiving for their song royalties.  Some artists are receiving royalty cheques as low as $.01.  These are not just artists or bands getting started in the industry, these are artists who have established themselves with various awards and decades of experience.  The article shocked me because I didn’t think the royalty cheques they were that low.  On the other hand, I wasn’t too surprised because the music scene has changed dramatically in the past six to seven years. 

Artists should receive more for their work, and I think the article makes the point that the modern music industry needs help—it needs to change.  The digital information age we are living in is a double edged sword for the music industry.  On one hand, the internet makes it easy for artists to get their music into the hands of the public, but on the other hand music can be so easily pirated and shared amongst friends illegally that artists are struggling to make any money off of their music.  As a collective industry, we need a solution.  For a while, people bought music legitimately through iTunes.  As streaming services have become more popular in the past three to four years, royalties earned by artists have decreased drastically.  Spotify pays artists only $0.007 per song. Newly released Beats Music is trying to give more money to artists.  Even iTunes Radio pays artists $.013 per play of their song.

A possible solution to the music industry issue is to have more sites like SoundCloud and ReverbNation allow artists to charge money for their music and sell directly to the consumer.  Obviously, this wouldn’t stop sharing between friends, but might help the artists to have larger cheques than $.01 because that’s just pitiful.  Especially for Grammy winning musicians.

Shirt the Rapper

Shirt, a rapper from Queens, New York, created an entire fake New York Times website and wrote an article about himself, from the perspective of Jon Caramanica, a well known music critic for the New York Times.  After reading the article, I honestly couldn’t decide if Shirt’s fake article was preposterous or genius… At first read, I thought it was kind of pathetic.  It seemed like this guy would do anything to get his name and music out there.  But, after reading it again, I realized he just wants his music to be heard, so what’s pathetic about that?

            The modern music industry is an entirely different industry than it was even ten years ago.  There has been a lot of advancement in technology and how we buy and listen to music.  Instead of buying albums and CD’s, listeners can download music through iTunes, Spotify, or other online streaming music websites on their computers.  The thought of going out and buying a physical CD or album is baffling to people in this modern day.  Everything is so convenient with the Internet.  But with that convenience, musicians are somewhat ripped off.

            There are definitely changes that can be made in order to benefit musicians.  In this day and age, musicians will do almost anything to get their music out there.  They want their art to be heard and appreciated.  So is Shirt in the wrong for doing what he did? Absolutely not. As the article discussed, Shirt is just “playing the game.” And I would say he played it well… (Hints: he is getting a lot of music media buzz from his fake article stunt.)  Shirt’s attempt to being heard is impossibly genius.  


I don’t even know what to say…


One thing that comes to mind when reading this article is… HEARTBREAKING. Everyone knows that the music industry is falling financially. Well this just shows how tough it is for some people to get paid their royalties. These are some big names that have grammy nominations and have performed some of the biggest hits yet they are recieving checks for .01. It’s sad and something needs to change. Since things can now be streamed from websites like Spotify, the music world needs to come up with something to fix this problem. Trust me, if I had the answer I would say it but I don’t. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that we deal with the payment plans for these musicians that have to stream their music through websites like these. Websites like Spotify need to man up and pay higher and pay the money they deserve. Like I said, i’d go out on a limb. Check this out and let us know what you think. RESPOND BELOW. 


February Communion USA Club Nights Series

Each month, Communion Records hosts the Club Nights Series Tour, which sends great, up-and-coming musicians to nine US cities along the East Coast from New York to Minneapolis.  The series pairs musicians that complement each other well, while also giving audience members a very diverse listening experience. 

This month, the tour has special connections to Charleston and 1770 Records.  It is headlined by Charleston’s own Brave Baby and the Nashville based husband-wife duet JOHNNYSWIM.  Brave Baby is a local band signed to independent label, Hearts & Plugs.  Their unique sound ”emerged from the dissolution of one band and the identity crisis of another” (Brave Baby Website). JOHNNYSWIM also has ties to the Charleston area.  They played on the College of Charleston campus twice in 2013. Once during the TODAY Show and again at the Spoleto USA Festival.  After numerous TV appearances and touring extensively, their bluesy, folk-pop, sound is finding its way into the hearts of listeners everywhere. 

The Series is giving music lovers an incredible opportunity to see so these two artists together. If you can, (seriously!) go.  Both Brave Baby and JOHNNYSWIM are on the rise, rapidly. 

The tour also includes OH NO FIASCO and local artists from each city.  

Buy Brave Baby’s Forty Bells on iTunes, and get the new JOHNNYSWIM album on April 29th.

There are still a couple of tour dates left in Nashville, TN, Minneapolis, MN, Madison, WI, and Rock Island, IL.  Visit www.communionmusic.com for more information! 


Attention All Music Lovers


Did any of those names ring a bell? If you don’t live under a rock and at least tolerate music, then you probably have. And these are only a few examples of the hundreds of music festivals occurring each year all around the world.

Every festival is a little different; some span over one-day, others take up a whole weekend, and several travel. Not only that, but the genre(s) they focus on may differ. Where one may showcase a little of each genre, another may fully explore what one genre has to offer. Oh and don’t forget the important part: the ticket price. I know several promoters who will even suffer a loss to ensure that everyone has access to the show, while another might try to get the largest paycheck.  Now don’t go blame them for “expensive” tickets or high associated fees; there are a lot of factors that determine how all of that is allocated and put into play. But I digress.  

I am lucky enough to be able to say ,” yes I have attended to various music festivals and been part of others.” Not everyone has the same opportunities however; someone who loves music just as much as the next person may not have the financial means to buy a $300 3 day general admission ticket to a major festival. Hell, quite a few cannot afford the local festivals because they have other obligations such as paying loans, having a roof over their head, and eating. Who are we to say that they cannot attend?

With the growth of music festivals, this mission of making the event(s) accessible to everyone has become more and more prominent. Tons of festivals have portions of their websites dedicated to people who want to help fellow festival goers, whether it be a place to stay or a carpool to get everyone there. The community at festivals of all kinds, especially music ones, want to work together to accomplish a common goal: make the festival unforgettable and have fun. 

Even with this though some tickets are still financially unattainable. This is where I present to you a solution: volunteer. And yes, it really is that easy.

Volunteering at the music festivals allows you to get into the festival for virtually free, network like crazy, gain experience in the industry, have fun, AND DID WE MENTION YOU GET IN THE INSIDE OF THE FESTIVAL FOR FREE? It works like this (well, basically):

  1. Decide which festival you want to work with. When and where does it occur?
  2. Make sure your schedule could work around it. The least thing you want to do is say you will be there and magically not show up.
  3. Apply to Volunteer. A lot of sites have a specific portion dedicated to volunteering. There is generally a nominal fee associated with this to ensure that you are serious about the opportunity.
  4. Then you wait. Some festivals will give you a response right back while others are on a first-come-first-serve basis so availability must be checked. Either way, you will hear back.
  5. Decide to fully commit or not commit at all. There is no middle ground. If you go and do not work the specific amount of hours the festival requires, you will NOT get a ticket refund.
  6. If you decide this is the festival for you, then jump on in. Some festivals require you pay for the ticket in advance BUT if you accomplish what is required, you get it refunded back to you in full. Others may just require a deposit; remember that each one is different so be flexible.

After you have applied, been accepted, and paid said amount, you’ve done the hardest part. When the time for the festival rolls around be sure to be prepared. Yes you have to work a bit, but it will be fun and you get to be with fellow music lovers.   Do not forget that this is supposed to be FUN; don’t stress yourself out. Bring what you need, be willing to try something new, and have a great time.

Say the festival at this point has come and gone and you have fulfilled what was required of you, thus you got your refund. Sweet, congrats! Now you can add that experience to your resume. And as Billy Mays would say, “but wait.. there’s more!”

NOW YOU HAVE THE CHANCE TO GET SOME SCHOLARSHIPS FROM ALL OF THIS. If that isn’t the best deal ever, then I don’t know what is. Sounds too good to be true, huh? Here, check this one example out: http://www.welldunn.org/ 

Still don’t believe me? Let me introduce you to Work Exchange Team (WET) that specifically caters to volunteer opportunities at various music festivals. https://www.workexchangeteam.com/ . If you look into the site a little you will see that volunteers at festivals through certain organizations are often HIRED. So by simply volunteering you have increased your chances for the job. 

I sincerely hope this has at least enlightened you if not inspired you to get involved.  By giving a little, you can get a lot and this article serves as proof.

Trenchtown Kid, to London Chap! Bob Marley

During the 1970’s, the music world was on the rise. One of the greatest and most memorable acts of that time period is Bob Marley. Bob Marley, was a reggae artist who came from Jamaica. He changed the face of music during the 1970’s, and made reggae into a mainstream music form. The reason he was able to bring such music into the forefront was because of his decision in 1972 to sign with CBS records. It was at CBS Records that Bob Marley was able to meet Chris Blackwell, the owner of Island records, who immediately saw the potential in Bob Marley. Chris Blackwell understood that music needed a new sound in order to sell more records, and generally Chris Blackwell was dealing with rock groups. The sound of rock was (and still is) a rebel sound, and Marley was definitely a rebel.

Bob grew up in a small Jamaican ghetto called Trenchtown, a very dangerous part of Jamaica. It was here the Bob started to see the troubles in the world and his communities, after he started to learn how to play guitar, it was here that he started to write songs that would discuss these problems. Bob Marley was also very religious, and you could hear the influences of his religion Rastafari, with in his songs. “Give thanks and praise to the Lord, And I will feel all right;” is what his lyrics say in the song One Love, but Chris Blackwell didn’t the religious side of Marley, he needed the rebel side that was mad at the troubles in the world. Subsequently, two of Marley’s band members, who were also devote Rastafari, quit the band because they believed the direction the band was going did not line up with “God’s will”. Yet Bob stuck with it, and kept opening for major acts, and even though he died at a very early age, as we can see he is sill recognized and listened to today.

His move to be marketed as a rock act may not have set well with his other band members, but at the end of the day, Marley was able to live his life as he wanted, and still keep playing music.

Bob Marley

Today, Bob Marley is known as a legend and Jamaica’s claim to fame, but that was not the case during the time of his musical career. Hailing from Jamaica, Marley was a Rastafarian who wanted to make music promoting messages about peace and love. When he moved to London to further his career as a musician, he signed onto Island Records with Jamaican native, Chris Blackwell. Blackwell felt Marley would be more successful in the UK labeled as a “rock” artist so they began to promote him as a rock act and would add more electric guitars in the back of his songs. 

Marley’s two band mates, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer, did not like being classified as rock artists. They were being forced to play in night clubs that went against their belief systems and they felt they were getting ripped off and treated unfairly. They did not think they should have to sacrifice their beliefs in order to “make it big” in the United States and internationally. Being classified as a rock artist had an impact on the type of audience that listened to his music but he wanted to reach other audiences like African Americans as well. In the United States, he agreed to open for a much less popular band, the Commodores, which in turn, gave him the broader audience range he had hoped for.

Despite being promoted as a Rock artist, Marley was always a Reggae artist at heart. The lyrics of his songs touched the hearts of many and his legacy of peace and love lives on through his music.