One of the most debatable topics in the music business is album sales. Several years back, when an artist was gaining popularity, physical albums and CDs were the most common method of purchase. But with the advancements in technology and the creation of streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music, the music industry simply hasn’t adapted to the internet era.
Certain critics believe that solely streaming music is bad for artists and doesn’t give them the money they deserve. Of course album purchases still make up a significant amount of revenue, however, record labels haven’t evolved along with the music business. So, buying an album isn’t necessarily the best way to support one’s favorite artist. In fact, due to certain label contracts and third parties, most artists get only a small percentage of the profits from the sale.
For instance, if an album was purchased from Walmart for $15, Walmart would get a percentage of the sale for being the distributor. This percentage varies between distributors, but the average sits close to 30. Even after this cut, a percentage still has to be taken by the record label, who records the tracks and coordinates the release.
It is better to listen to an artist’s music on streaming services such as Spotify or Pandora. If one still wanted to buy an album, they should at least purchase it through the artist’s personal site or concert venue to cut out the middleman.
According to the Future of Music Coalition, a non-profit organization aimed to support fair artist compensation, a traditional contract states that artists are awarded between 11 and 13 percent of royalty. However, after the many clauses that are often present in a contract are taken into account, this percentage can drop to be as low as 5 percent.
This can be viewed as the root of the problem. Even with the extreme popularity of streaming services, revenue is difficult to make. In order for an artist to gain the same amount of money as they would from an album purchase, a song has to be streamed hundreds of times which is very difficult if an artist isn’t famous or popular. The listening habits of streamers and the operations of the music industry are in a transitional period, so they don’t exactly reflect each other.
Of course album purchases still make up a significant amount of revenue, however, record labels haven’t evolved along with the music business.
Album purchases aren’t the best way to support an artist themselves, despite how much album sales make up overall revenue. By purchasing an album, money is taken away from the artist and handed over to record labels and distributors. It is better to listen to an artist’s music on streaming services such as Spotify or Pandora. If one still wanted to buy an album, they should at least purchase it through the artist’s personal site or concert venue to cut out the middleman.
Another way to support an artist is to buy their merchandise. The profit isn’t divided as much since most labels don’t have any legal right to concert sales of said merchandise. Streaming doesn’t provide a consistent source of income, and there’s no better way to show your love for an artist than by wearing their merchandise. Purchasing an album isn’t going to easily solve a problem that is perpetuated by a broken system.
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