As a result of the consent decrees, performers are typically paid much more than songwriters. That’s because performers are paid on an entirely different system, one based on direct deals negotiated between labels and the streaming services. Here’s a chart breaking down royalty splits by tech blogger Michael DeGusta for the ‘90s song “Low” by the band Cracker; you can see how small the slice has become for songwriters (in green).
Casey Rae, a musician and the CEO of advocacy group The Future of Music Coalition, describes the info here as “quite solid.” read more
Johnson’s piece, of course, rankled people who have devoted a lot of time to pondering this issue. The Future of Music Coalitionpenned a lengthy response to the article on their website, basically saying that statistics about wages do not take into account the widely varying amounts of success that people employed in the industry experience. Not everyone can be Kanye West but throwing a few people of his stature into the numbers paints a different picture than the reality faced by typical artists.
I was not the only person to take issue with this article. Some provided detailed and clear-headed thinking, some less so. I would like to focus on one particular exchange with the Future of Music Coalition (F.M.C.) because it will eventually involve Mr. Johnson, the Times public editor and the magazine editor. This is the passage in the original article that sparks the exchange:
According to the O.E.S., in 1999 there were nearly 53,000 Americans who considered their primary occupation to be that of a musician, a music director or a composter; in 2014, more than 60,000 people were employed writing, singing or playing music. That’s a rise of 15 percent, compared with overall job-market growth during that period of about 6 percent. read more
The story’s thesis and details have been well worked over since it was published. The Future of Music Coalition, an advocacy group for musicians, posted a long response on its site. The article’s author, Steven Johnson, responded in detail, and the group then answered him. The Times’s standards department considered a request for correction and decided against it.
Along with criticism from Casey Rae, CEO of Future of Music Coalition, and a rebuttal by article author Johnson, there is a letter from a very qualified individual – Neil Portnow. From the West Coast, here’s how the president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences sees the current disruption: […]
Other groups are trying to generate debate and awareness. The Britain-based Featured Artists Coalition campaigns for the rights of musicians and performers. Earlier this year, David Byrne, the former front-man for Talking Heads, joined the board of SoundExchange, a non-profit performance-rights organisation that collects and distributes digital performance royalties to artists and copyright-holders. Mr Byrne took to the New York Times’s op-ed page in July to call on the industry to open up its financial “black box”. The Washington-based non-profit Future of Music Coalition provides education, research and advocacy for musicians.