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Taylor Swift is right… an unsigned view point

So this isn’t a post for musicians, it’s probably a blog giving a little insight into my life as an unsigned artist. What I’m going to write is simply my opinion as it stands at this current point in time.

First of all Taylor Swift did a cool thing going public with her opinion on the payments (or lack there of) for the first 3 months of Apple’s service. I’ve been following the events on other music blogs & via media outlets. The real power has probably come from the lack of support from labels both independent & major. In short for anyone that doesn’t know what’s happening – Apple are starting a streaming service next month, and wanted to give access to ALL of the music on the platform completely free for the first 3 months.

As an unsigned artist I’ve dodged and negotiated this mentality for many years. I’ve typically found it with “promoters”. I’ll not name any promoters, but here’s an example of what happens all too often.

I’m contacted to play an event that’s charging 5 – 15 per ticket. I’m asked for a price, the promoter tries to haggle me down & I stick to my price which is a set price and isn’t unreasonable at all. I’m constantly aware of the promoters overheads so I set my price accordingly, so as to make sure there’s a sufficient return for the promoter if the event does well enough. I promote the event, but I don’t see the promoter do any promotion. Then a week before the event I’ll get an email saying it’s not selling as well as they’d hoped at this point, though it’s still doing OK and they expect some walk in traffic. They would like to know would I consider dropping my fee to ensure I don’t disappoint the people who’ve already bought tickets. I get to the event, play the gig to a decent number of people (always around 50+ lately around 100+) and the promoter talks about how hard it is to work in this industry, how he/she doesn’t have a big budget and they didn’t turn over the amount of people they’d hoped. And, if they pay me the full amount they might not be able to continue doing their night which helps support music.

The above is a common occurrence. Even if it’s not as direct as that, it’s implied all the time. The answer is simple though. It’s not the musicians job to worry about your risks as a promoter. We provide a form of art and you as a promoter believe you can sell it. We charge a fee for our time and you run the event. The risk isn’t on us, we’ve already taken the risk of spending up to 10k on an album. It’s time we started making a return.

The same applies to Apple. If they want to start a business generating revenue from product that isn’t theirs, it should not be their decision to give away our music for 3 months for FREE. “They’re offering a platform”. I’ve heard this about Spotify.

Here’s an example of my payment from Spotify:

Tunecore

Spotify state that their average payment is 0.007 per play. Well I’ve received 0.001 and as I’ve looked into it, I’ve discovered quite a lot of unsigned artists have also. I know some other friends & musicians are doing fantastically well out of Spotify, receiving Millions of plays and they are getting the full royalty rate. The issue for me is the lack of consistency. Spotify state that they pay 70% of revenue to the rights holders, but there are a lot of people disputing this currently.  I for one am not receiving the same rate as I have previously with a lesser volume of plays. The argument that they are offering a platform? Ok so I have 23k plays … my demographic says GB… Well that’s massively useful… whereabouts? Which county? Should I just spend 1 million on advertising to all of the UK or can you let me know which county in Ireland I should be visiting. Now in America I get the state… California … lol This isn’t useful for an independent artist. I can’t afford to advertise all over San Diego, San Fran, L.A etc…

Apple & Spotify are businesses: 
If you want to start a business selling a product you need to invest in that product. If I sell T shirts, I need to buy the T shirts before I can sell them on. If I am ASDA, I need to buy in product before selling it on. Apple and Spotify are just the same – they are resellers. Why should it be the musician that takes the hit? Why should we take the risk? We’ve already taken the risk in investing in developing our music, which they see as ‘Product’. We’ve developed it, nurtured it, recorded it, mixed it, mastered it, sometimes scrapped it & started the whole process again.

I really advise people to buy from me directly whether that’s digital or physical. I don’t care about charts & I am a working musician. I go out, write songs, record them, sell albums and play gigs. I do this and gradually have built myself a starting career. I don’t think I’ve broken 1k on Itunes for sales & that’s fine. But if Itunes are streaming my music & giving it away for free, how can I as an artist compete with that?

We as artists need these revenues to justify being able to continue to work. There needs to be a revenue stream to enable us to keep creating music. I pay everyone that works for and with me via direct payment or royalty share. If there’s no royalty to share, but people are still listening to your music, how do I create more music? Obviously people (23 thousand worth of plays) were interested enough to listen to the Album. How can I continue to do so?  How can I afford to spend thousands of pounds on releasing music if the avenues for getting that music out there offer exposure rather than payment. Let me tell you… my experience & exposure bank account is Full to the fucking brim!

I’m hearing people saying the Taylor swift thing was an Apple publicity stunt… It kinda doesn’t matter either way as long as they are no longer giving music away for FREE. If you’re at all interested in music, please support artists. I don’t mean LOCAL artists I mean ones you think are worth their salt.

Fair play Taylor, Well done Apple for wising up!

Pete

Fear, Weird

It’s a weird time to be here…

It’s a weird time to be here… sometimes I feel like I’m living in some sort of movie.
You see the terrible scenes of people running for their lives in Paris and then the knee jerk reaction of people’s fear on the internet and it all gets a bit scary. People you thought you knew expressing hard right wing views. I’ve seen on my Facebook timeline friends of mine discussing how they’ve had to remove their friends/followers because they’ve got this extreme right wing view point. I think this is a mistake! Ignoring the issue doesn’t make it go away. Leaving these people in exile with like-minded people only fuels the fire of ignorance, hatred and ,most of all, fear.

On the run up to World War II Nazi propaganda was used to create a fear by justifying military violence as self defence. We saw this as the German propaganda machine demonised the polish people before their invasion.
“Before the German attack on Poland on September 1, 1939, the Nazi regime launched an aggressive media campaign to build public support for a war that few Germans desired. To present the invasion as a morally justifiable, defensive action, the German press played up “Polish atrocities,” referring to real or alleged discrimination and physical violence directed against ethnic Germans residing in Poland. Deploring Polish “warmongering” and “chauvinism,” the press also attacked the British for encouraging war by promising to defend Poland in the event of German invasion.” – United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

A huge issue today is that we can spread misinformation to the masses via social media. It’s our own form of propaganda, finding pieces of information that help support our argument! Who cares if it’s accurate? It makes us look like social media argument kings. We don’t fact check. We just spew and regurgitate information our mates posted on their Facebook wall. This is as good as overhearing it in the Bar.

What we need to do is discuss and debate with each other. Educate each other. Governments need to put proper checks in place where these fleeing refugees are processed not turn them back into the sea. I’ve seen so many people on twitter etc… discuss how Europe is so stupid letting these people in, they deserve whatever happens. I can’t imagine how turning boats back with families in them is a solution to the problem. Not to mention that most of the people carrying out these attacks in Paris appear to have been born in Europe.

I can’t help but feel a bit sick at having brought a young child into this fucked up world… But then when I think about it, in the past 100+ years, we’ve had two world wars and a few Iraq wars to name but a few. The current situation is kind of down to us, it is our fault. We’ve passively let our Governments rule us not speak on behalf of us. We’ve not stood up as a united voice when we were going to war with Iraq and Afghanistan (some people did but not all of us) and this current Syrian war, which leaves so many innocents displaced and dead is directly linked to a dicision we ,as the western world, took (let happen).

Maybe the world has always been this fucked up! But social media has been able to showcase these atrocities.

I’m sorry to bring politics to my website, but I kinda feel like I need to talk about it. Let’s not let fear control us. Let’s not believe all the propoganda. Let’s look for the light.

Antoine Leiris wrote it perfectly on his Facebook page after loosing his wife to these horrible people:

“I saw her this morning. Finally, after nights and days of waiting. She was just as beautiful as she was when she left on Friday evening, as beautiful as when I fell madly in love with her more than 12 years ago.

Of course I’m devasted with grief, I will give you that tiny victory, but this will be a short-term grief. I know that she will join us every day and that we will find each other again in a paradise of free souls which you will never have access to.

We are only two, my son and I, but we are more powerful than all the world’s armies. In any case, I have no more time to waste on you, I need to get back to Melvil who is waking up from his afternoon nap. He’s just 17 months old; he’ll eat his snack like every day, and then we’re going to play like we do every day; and every day of his life this little boy will insult you with his happiness and freedom. Because you don’t have his hatred either.”

Please don’t let fear win!

We can all be as strong as Antoine Leiris if only we allow ourselves to be. It’s times like this we need to stand together! We need to speak up for all atrocities that exist including those that constantly take place in Africa, Gaza, Ireland, UK & The USA etc… to name but a few. We’re all human, we all need compassion and we all need to know we’re together in this. We’re all scared, but together we are strong! We need community! I believe that’s where it all starts, If we can get together in our work places, in our community etc… we can actively change things!

Sorry maybe this is a bit of a rant!

I should be talking about what a great time I had playing in the Netherlands but yeah… It’s a weird time to be here!

Love

Pete