“I’ve been stabbed in the back so many, many times, I don’t have any skin, but that’s just the way it goes.”
The music industry has repeatedly stabbed musicians in the back. And now that artists are starving and it appears there is nothing left to stab, they invent new ways to stab them some more.
So can musicians ever trust the labels, the technocrats, the performance rights organizations (PRO’s), the clubs, their manager …anybody? On balance, I think the answer has to be no, nay, never!
At this point, musicians probably don’t trust that internet disintermediation is the answer either -yet they appear to be addicted to exposure via the web. Internet glory is the slot machine with a million bells. It’s also a black hole that never seems to pay out. Why do artists continue to toss their orphan music away into this bottomless freemium pit?
To be fair, freemium exposure did bring some artists success at the outset. But, after a couple of years …what, with the explosion in new music and so many people jumping on the freemium bandwagon, the price point of music basically fell to zero. And at $0, well, there was no market -unless you want to count the micro-pennies from streaming. A few lucky artists can still gain liquid exposure today, but without a viable market, even these lucky few will sip on ever thinning gruel.
“Facebook Likes have replaced the dollars we likes.”
So, in the market reality of today, when should musicians give their music away for free? How about never. And when should they stream (or post music videos) for micro-pennies? Again, how about never.
If an artist should be so lucky as to stream their music on say Pandora, the only way to get off that streaming bandwagon is to forgo performance royalties from PRO’s …like ASCAP & BMI. That’s because streaming companies like Pandora can buy a blanket license to stream (aka perform) all songs by any artist registered with ASCAP & BMI.
Is it a big deal to forgo performance royalties? Not for 99% of artists. For ye struggling artists –guess what, there are no performance royalties to speak of. So save yourself the $50 fee needed to join ASCAP -at least until such time as you have enough airplay to negotiate better royalties.
THE SOLUTION : A FAIR GAME
At isongU, we are 12 Gaming Levels, songs that beat The Game gain a large buying audience for their song. As in Music Stardom,
All music artists enter The Game as equals. It does not matter whether you are a Star or Starving. Everybody has to pass through the exact same hoops that are the Gaming Levels.
The Wisdom of Crowds
To make the game fair, we render all songs Anonymous (no song title, Artist name or imagery) so that when listeners hear a random, mystery song clip, they give their unbiased gut reaction to the bare bones music: Does it grab them or does it not.
OK, so it’s not 100% without bias. For instance, some listeners may have Genre bias – perhaps a listener hates Jazz or Country music. However, a song that beats The Game will garner about 6,000 listens, so in a crowd this size, their will likely be people that low Jazz or Country music and so, in a large diverse crowd, these biases tend to cancel one another out.
The biggest factor in the Wisdom of Crowds is this: Individuals must rate songs without herding or influencing from other listeners. When a fan hits play, they get a randomly delivered mystery song clip. Because it is random, no other listeners can hear the song clip, so herding or influencing is not possible.
Selling a Mystery: Buy or Bust:
A 2nd reason we render song anonymous is to generate song sales. If a fan loves a song so much that they rate it, say 90/100, we give them the option to buy the song, but the option to buy only exists while the 90 second song clip is playing. Once it plays out, the song is gone and it’s gone forever. It is Buy or Bust.
The Game is based on Fairness for all:
It is absolutely crazy to talk about fairness in the music industry. The music world has long been riddled with biases. At present, it doesn’t even pretend to be fair.
We are basically placing a fair music industry inside a game. Once where all artists enter as equals. And that’s kind of insane.
The biggest challenge facing isongU is how do we build trust with Music Artists. A culture of distrust plagues the music industry and nobody can blame artists for having a healthy degree of cynicism. Their distrust has grown out of 60 years of corruption and greed that pervades the music industry now more than it ever did before.
Honestly, we cannot blame music artists if, right now, they do not trust a single word we say.