Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Debbie Harry: 'Music Matters. YouTube Should Pay Musicians Fairly'

In a compelling piece in the Guardian, the Blondie singer outlines why she’s joining the crusade to demand better payments for musicians from the video streaming service:
Music fuels YouTube’s success. Music has helped the video site become the No 1 destination for music online. Music has also helped make YouTube’s parent company, Google, which bought it in 2006, become the world’s second largest corporation. Music matters. Artists matter. Our large community of hardworking artists is being exploited to make a very small percentage of people extremely rich.
Cool that Debbie joins my other main woman, Rosanne Cash, in leading this charge against the exploitation of musicians that a year ago I was proud to say I was not guilty of.

I say this because recently Ben Watt -- whose complete catalogue I own dating back to his 1982 solo album and his first work with Everything But the Girl -- put out a new LP called "Fever Dream." In the past, I would have immediately bought the CD.. But in recent years, I have been buying the download from Amazon or iTunes. But late last month I was at work and noticed the entire album was streaming on Pitchfork, so I put on my schmancy headphones and listened to the whole thing at my desk, not wanting to wait till I got home to buy it. It sounded great. But it was at that moment that I first realized if I wanted to listen to it again, I could just pull up the site and have at it. Although I've always loved collecting music, now that there's no physical product involved, it suddenly dawned on me -- as I'm sure it has every Spotify/Apple Music/Etc. user in the world ages ago -- that there really wasn't a huge difference between listening to it via purchase on iTunes and (in this case) Pitchfork -- an album I would probably listen to very sporadically anyway, so why spend the money?

I'm now part of the problem. (Are you happy now, techies?) But now that this genie is out of the bottle, the only logical way to fix the situation is to increase the royalties paid to artists whose music is being used. It will still be a fraction of what they used to be paid, but at least it's something. (Before you hate me, remember this: I still buy Ben Watt concert tickets!)

How ironic that Blondie's "Dreaming" makes for the perfect parody of everything that's wrong with the music industry today!

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