What is an artist worth? Well everything, if one is trying to profit off her intellectual property, as Entertainment lawyers well know. Taylor Swift has reminded the music industry of the artistic preminum by pulling her music off Spotify — a reported $6 million move. This sent a message to streaming services, some analysts contended, that songwriters have the right to do what they want with their intellectual property and the services must value their creations, not the other way around.
Streaming services like Spotify and Pandora and Spotify are becoming increasingly popular, and have significantly curtailed illegal music downloading. Spotify says it pays “nearly 70 percent” of their revenue is paid back to the music community. However the artist or songwriter only receives approximately 10 percent of that revenue. Moreover, it is said that Pandora only pays approximately 50 percent of its revenue to the artists. Anyone who wants to profit in music industry should never forget that there is no product if artists don’t create the intellectual property.
Swift is in a unique position to remind the moguls of the industry of this message since she is one of the highest paid artist in the world and her latest, 1989, has scorched the charts, selling more than 1 million copies in a week’s time. While some speculate that she hoped to drive up sales of her 1989 by curbing available product, particularly through the low-royalty streaming services, Swift has assailed the new technology channels for being cheap and disrespectful. As she said this summer in a Wall Street Journal article, “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for.”
If the diva thought she would get the last word in the running dispute between subscription streaming services and creatives, well, not. The Spotify blog has a long retort, with a billion-dollar punchline — what the company asserts it has returned to artists in fees. The always outspoken Bono also has jumped into the fray to defend technological advances and to urge artists to be open-minded and willing to experiment.