We’ve all heard the stories of musicians being exploited by bad management contracts, record deals, and booking agents. A little discussed area where artists are also getting exploited is the internet in the form of corporate profiteering.
At some point the model for profitable digital revenue streams for musicians will sort itself out but right now, artists are getting the short straw. Streaming has surpassed downloads and the profits from streaming amount to fractions of a penny per stream. Yet piracy sites are making money off advertising by companies such as Alaska Airlines and 1-800 Flowers sponsoring their content.
The piracy sites are the only ones fleecing musicians on their streams and downloads. East Bay Ray of the Dead Kennedys commented in an interview with NPR on how the band only received a few hundred dollars for over 14 million plays on YouTube. YouTube’s paltry payments have directly contributed to the estimated loss of 12,000 middle class musicians. It’s not for a lack of revenue, there is plenty of online revenue being made by the digital distribution of music, it’s just not being shared with the musicians. Here is a list of over 50 major brands supporting piracy. Brands such as Citi Bank, HP, Adobe, State Farm.
There are over 200,000 piracy websites out there utilizing essentially “free inventory” to finance their ad sales. The so called utopia that the internet was supposed to create for musicians has been a fraud. If it was working so well, more musicians would be working professionally instead of relying on day jobs to pay their bills. Piracy sites and their advertising partners are making the money why the creators miss out on their fair share.
If you truly want to put a dent in illegal music downloading, cut off the piracy websites’ revenue streams.