If you are new to Christian rock, please read this
post about the definition of Christian rock and some of the biggest questions about Christian music.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Buy Your Music

In today’s music world, there are so many options to choose from.  You can buy your music legally from the numerous online stores that sell digital and physical copies.  You can also use popular websites to stream music, such as Spotify and PureVolume.  Or, you can take advantage of the plethora of social media sites that are dedicated to musicians.

Throughout all of these innovations, a major plus has been the ever increasing accessibility of music.  You can now find information, songs, videos, and personal interviews in just a click of a button.  Through Twitter and Facebook, you can contact and chat with your favorite musical groups.  Yet, even though the personal experience for fans has improved, are the artists actually seeing the benefits of this free, social world of music?

Over these last few years, two websites that have exploded in popularity are YouTube and Spotify.  Especially on YouTube, not only can you find almost any song imaginable, free of charge, but, nowadays, people are also uploading full albums as one online video.  You can only imagine how these videos are hurting the bottom line for bands and record labels.

For Spotify, there have been many online discussions about the exact amount that artists receive from this service.  But, most conservative estimates will say that rights holders will receive somewhere between “$0.006 and $0.0084 per stream in royalties.”  However, there have been other reports that cite artists making as little as .002 to .004 cents per play.

For the megastars, such as Katy Perry and Eminem, there is definitely money to be made on free, streaming websites.  When your songs are being played millions of times on Spotify, then, this small royalty, of less than a penny, will slowly add up to substantial profits.

However, for the average, small Christian rock group, there is no money to be made on these types of sites.  A band does not get paid when someone illegally uploads their record to YouTube.  Even if the group is able to receive a large number of Spotify streams, then, their profits still have to be divided between record labels, guest writers, and all the members of the band.  

Yes, these online services may help a musical group receive more publicity, but is the rise in exposure worth enduring a great loss in profits?  Many of these sites claim that they are in business to support artists, but their paychecks say something entirely different.  Sadly, this new digital age has been one of the biggest killers of small, independent music.

Of course, social media and streaming websites are not going anywhere.  They are here to stay.  Within your free time, there is nothing wrong with listening to a song on Spotify or watching a new video on YouTube.  However, if these sites are serving as a replacement for actually going out and purchasing a physical or digital album, then, that’s where the problem comes in.

If you want to see your favorite band or musician thrive and continue making music, then, it’s vital that you support them financially.  Go to the shows, and buy some of their merchandise.  Support their online campaigns, by donating to their Kickstarter, Indiegogo, or PledgeMusic account.  For the majority of independent musicians, especially Christian rock ones, these fundraising platforms are huge, because they allow the money to go straight into the hands of artists, who are making the music in the first place.  

The simple solution is:  if you like the song or album, do not click on the quickest streaming website or make an illegal download.  But, choose to encourage and support musicians by purchasing their music directly. This small act will go a long way in helping your favorite band continue to make music for many years to come.

(Picture taken from thecurrent.org)