The Industry Problem
While streaming was sold to the music industry as an accessible distribution channel with almost unlimited global reach; it has highlighted some increasing inequities in the music industry.
With major labels taking the lion’s share of streaming revenue for their ‘famous’ artists, where does this leave the independent music creator, who doesn’t have the financial, marketing or distribution backing to buy his way into popular playlists, or send her streams sky high?
With the average song play on most global streaming platforms netting an individual artist less than 0.005 cents, to make back the cost of an average coffee in Perth, a song must be streamed 1000 times.
To put this in the context of artist earnings - one million streams on YouTube nets an artist approximately $690. One million streams on Spotify = approximately $4370. One million streams on Apple Music = approximately $7350. One million streams on Amazon Music = approximately $4020. These kinds of figures barely cover the cost of recording an album – cheaply!
Without costly marketing and huge effort driving discovery, achieving a million song plays is beyond the capability of most independent artists. Many won’t net this volume of listener traffic across their entire music career. At the same time, ‘free’ subscription options educate consumers not to place a value on music – to expect to access the creative labour of our musicians at the touch of a button, but to also expect not to have to invest in it in any way.
Streaming has also made redundant the few remaining revenue streams for musicians - the sale of physical product (compact discs etc.) and digital downloads (being superseded by low cost streaming services). Live performance is now a far less viable income source for most local, original musicians, so the loss of revenue from recorded music is doubly impactful. Music streamed in our retail, commercial and hospitality spaces is predominantly international, so royalties that should be retained by our industry are instead flowing out of it.
Australians continue to spend $2 billion per annum on recorded music, and buy 3 recordings per second or 100,000,000 each year. Unfortunately however, these statistics don’t reflect our consumption of Australian music - they relate largely to Australian music consumers’ spending on international artists.
The Pack Australia sees this situation as the ultimate ‘industry killer’. The way we see it, if this continues unchallenged, unsigned Australian musos won’t be able to afford to make new music at all, and we’ll be stuck with ‘cookie-cutter’ albums coming out of big labels and hit studios from overseas, but struggling to support our own great, Australian artists. To us, that’s not an industry – it’s a factory.