What Matters: Labor

Welcome to What Matters. This is the first rendition of a weekly series in which we discuss – you got it – things that matter. It’s a moment to examine the music industry, the values it should be cultivating but often isn’t, and all the reasons why supporting music is so integral to we human beings.

It seems fitting during Labor Day week to talk about arguably the largest issue facing the industry: labor; or rather, the compensation for it. The streaming era, which has grown () and is expected to be a ($10B) industry by (), has adopted an antiquated payment model that leaves the vast majority of artists underpaid — even in its (heyday). (95% of wealth…)

Big tech has (catapulted) the streaming revolution. A major consequence of the tech/music marriage is demanding that artist success be beholden to corporate ROI. We do it. The range of compensation for that labor, of course, is wildly disparate. And the minimum wage that protects welfare doesn’t apply to artists. (minimum wage stats).

Artists trade rights to their music in exchange for things like exposure and promises to navigate the murky waters of licensing and distribution. As with any industry, middlemen find ways to capitalize off of labor. Music is no different. How does payout work.

Artist success is at the mercy of the terms negotiated by labels and streaming platforms when really it should be the other way around — or at least weighted further in the artists’ favor.

What we’re looking for is wholesale music. Direct passage from the person creating it to the ears it resonates within.

Jon Hassell. Cristian Vogel. Amanda Palmer. Torres.

Most artists have other jobs.

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