It’s A Team Sport

The oldsters and the wannabes are convinced that Spotify is ripping them off, when the facts say completely the opposite. But nothing can convince them otherwise.

The most insightful article this week was in the “New York Times”:

“Britons, Unfazed by High Covid Rates, Weigh Their ‘Price of Freedom’ – Britain is reporting more than 30,000 new coronavirus cases a day, but the public seems to have moved on. Experts say this could be a glimpse into the future for other countries.”:

Bottom line? They’re packing them in at concerts and sports events with impunity, no one seems to be troubled, despite rising covid rates. I can’t get this story out of my mind, believing it’s a harbinger for the rest of the world, certainly the United States.

Then again, can the newspaper be trusted?

For weeks we’ve been inundated with stories about the fall of Afghanistan, it’s considered to be the most important thing in America. And everybody is beating up on Biden. You’d think it’s a disaster for him.


“What Voters in a California Swing District Say About Afghanistan – In a battleground district, even some Trump voters said they were hesitant to hold President Biden accountable for the casualties and chaos in the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan.”:

Seems like the news media is out of touch with the public, the same way it was out of touch with the groundswell for Trump in 2016. Meanwhile, most reporters are concerned about the Beltway, they don’t interact with any regular people, so they’ve got no idea what they’re thinking. As for news… We now live in the internet era, where things come and go so fast it’s like they didn’t even happen. So people concerned about Afghanistan now that we’ve pulled out completely? Unless they want a political battle cry, like the anti-Spotify crowd above, they’ll forget about it, the same way the public ignores the cries of the artists and pays up for streaming services and is in heaven.

“Sitting in a park in Paris France

Reading the news and it sure looks bad

They won’t give peace a chance

That was just a dream some of us had”


Joni Mitchell

These lines have been going through my head for the last month, the news is all bad. I have felt powerless and doing my best to detach, since nothing I say will change anybody’s mind. But I wake up this morning and hop on my phone and see this story:

“G.O.P. Governors Fight Mandates as the Party’s Covid Politics Harden – As several Republican-controlled states confront their worst outbreaks yet, their leaders — following the base — have doubled down on resisting vaccine and mask requirements.”:

You must read this story.

In Florida, covid is worse than ever before: but Ron DeSantis refuses to enact any mask mandates, as a matter of fact he’s making sure local businesses cannot do this even though this is the opposite of traditional Republican doctrine wherein decisions are made at a local level.

And Kristi Noem, governor of South Dakota, went to Sturgis to greet the half a million in attendance and covid numbers SPIKED! And if you’re Trump, or a Republican governor, and you go against the orthodoxy, if you applaud vaccination, support masking, you are booed and excoriated. The mob has taken over the asylum and the wards are too scared to go against them.

But the United States is the greatest country in the world, the undisputed leader!

Well, I’m not sure the rest of the world sees us that way:

“E.U. Set to Propose Travel Restrictions on U.S. Visitors – Three officials from the bloc said that starting Monday, the European Council would advise its member states to ban nonessential travel from the United States.”:

It’s a result of low vaccination rates. How come the rest of the world can see what American cannot?

As for ignoring the coronavirus and just soldiering on, the music business is down for that, the only person in opposition is Neil Young:

“Concerts and Covid”:

But it took two days for Young’s words on his website to get any traction. Yes, even legendary Neil has trouble getting the public’s attention. He’s too scared to play Farm Aid, he calls out AEG and Live Nation, but…in a corporatized world the execs are insulated anyway, they’re not showing up at the shows. America was opened on July 4th weekend and it appears nothing can close it, nothing!

As for mask/vaccine requirements, read the review of “Hamilton” in yesterday’s “Los Angeles Times”:

“But when I asked the ticket check-in person if he wanted to see my proof of vaccination, he declined the privilege.”

“It wasn’t until I went inside the theater that I began to spot the scofflaws. The first was a guy with his mask hanging from his chin like a wayward bandage. He appeared to be hitting on a female acquaintance who, by the way she slipped away from him, didn’t seem all that impressed by his undraped nose.

Directly across the aisle from me, an arrogant-looking fellow in his 60s sat unmasked for nearly the entire show. ‘Hamilton’ is long, nearly three hours. That’s a lot of time for not a single usher to confront the smugness of a guy who assumed that rules don’t apply to him.”

So we can talk about vaccine restrictions, but they seem to leak like sieves, and everybody thinks they’re immune.

As for facts?

“No, the Taliban did not seize $83 billion of U.S. weapons”:

But don’t let your emotions get in the way of an internet meme that aligns with your position, that feels right.

Which brings us back to Spotify.

So, all the oldster and younger musicians testified in front of the U.K. government about Spotify and other streaming services. And what was the government’s conclusion? IT WAS THE LABELS’ FAULT!

Everybody who studied the sphere knew this was true. It’s kind of like blaming Ticketmaster for fees. When you should really blame the acts. The only profit is in the fees, because the acts take all the rest, this is a way to create a pool of money the acts can’t commission. Furthermore, Ticketmaster doesn’t keep all the fees… They’ve got to pay the venue, the promoter, sometimes even the act itself. But you’ve got to have someone to blame, so Ticketmaster is the enemy, nothing will convince you otherwise! And when an all-in ticket is proffered you don’t buy it, you click on the link with the lowest price and end up paying the same amount with fees at the end. So who is really the enemy here?

As for Spotify… It keeps approximately 30% of revenues, from which it must pay all expenses and hopefully extract a profit.

As for the remaining monies…

One can argue strongly that publishers should get more, but since the major record labels also own big publishers they won’t budge. But in any event, the remaining 70% is paid to rights holders, i.e. labels and publishers. Now if you’re your own label and publisher the truth is you can make beaucoup bucks on Spotify, ASSUMING ANYBODY IS LISTENING!

Let me ask you… Do you really think your fifty year old music should be as popular as today’s top ten or fifty? Was Sinatra in the top ten in the seventies and eighties? Of course not, even though he was cleaning up on the road. Even more important, in the days of physical retail, there were limits, a store couldn’t have everything, so unless you were hot, the store might only stock your greatest hits album, maybe one or two other LPs if you were a superstar, and if you were a less impactful act…YOUR RECORDS WEREN’T IN THE STORE WHATSOEVER! So what we’ve got here is a bunch of old acts who believe they’re entitled to partake at the gravy train ad infinitum. Which is like saying the ratings of “Leave It to Beaver, “”The Real McCoys” and “My Mother the Car” should be cleaning up today!

As for the endless stories about income:

1. What was the use? On demand pays a different rate from radio. And online pays for the record as well as the song, unlike traditional, over the air radio.

2. What was the split? How much of the song did you own? Did you own the publishing?

3. Raw numbers. Spotify can’t pay more per stream, absolutely impossible, it would instantly bankrupt the company. It’s already paying out 70% of income, as stated above!

4. So you’ve got millions of streams. Be thankful anybody is listening at all! Because in the pre-internet era your albums wouldn’t be in the store and your music wouldn’t be able to be heard unless someone bought it, which in many cases they would not be able to! As for radio…good luck, maybe on an oldies station. And millions don’t mean much anymore, in the overall scheme. There are tracks, one single track, with over a billion streams!

5. The canard that if streaming payments don’t go up there will be no music. We heard this twenty years ago, in the heyday of Napster, and what was the end result? TOO MUCH NEW MUSIC! And if you believe anybody who wants to should be able to earn a living in music…think back to the pre-internet era when if you didn’t have a label you couldn’t even get your records distributed!

6. Never mind that Spotify, et al, lay the groundwork, via availability, to monetize elsewhere. Ticket prices have outpaced inflation by a multiple. And there are other avenues than live. And you can record at home and distribute essentially for free…

7. As for dominance… Nothing else is dominant, why should your music be?

But it just doesn’t feel right. You were making all this money before Spotify…

Well, the internet cut recorded music revenues in half, it’s only streaming that has allowed income to come back.

As for ownership… Let me ask you, buy any DVDs lately? Everything is on demand, music was actually a leader, to its benefit! But no, let’s try to jet back to the past. While you’re at it, why don’t you use your Mac Plus and a Motorola StarTAC?

But nothing I write here, NOTHING, will sway any musician’s opinion. Because the truth doesn’t matter. They’ve got their agenda. They believe someone is out to get them, they refuse to see any advantage to the new model and they’re dug in, not even listening to facts or reason.

So why should it be different in any other sphere?

Fauci is Spotify to the right. And vaccines make you grow a third head, which is magnetized, and your body transmits data via a chip to the government so you’d better not get one!

It’s bigger than vaccines. It’s bigger than politics. Team sports have influenced our entire society. Everybody’s got their tribe and if you go against it…

Hell, if I was only interested in the money I’d jump on board. Yes, Spotify is the devil! State the unpopular truth and not only are you hated upon, you’re excommunicated.

But all of America is now about leverage. Building your tribe and pushing its agenda, irrelevant of its veracity or benefit. The only difference is institutions don’t have the power they once did. They still don’t realize the power of the people, their ability to organize online, oftentimes around inaccurate information.

So what they’re doing in China is cracking down. On social media stars. On gaming. And the truth is, there are many Americans who would sign up for that, especially on the left, where everybody with an elite degree can’t stop bitching about the downsides of technology, despite being dependent upon their smartphone. They refuse to see any advantage to the new systems, and therefore just put themselves into a backwater. Just like the oldster musicians, who bitched about internet distribution while youngsters gave music away for free and embraced streaming. The youngsters are not bitching, at least those who are not wannabes. Only the marginal newbies have the time to complain, the rest are busy working to get ahead.

There is a way through this morass. But we’d need leadership based on what’s right as opposed to what’s wrong, not letting the tail, the uneducated, sway their opinions and directions, willing to do the unpopular. And a willingness to stay the course, evolution keeps happening. It used to be about computer hardware, now it’s all about software. There used to be a new app every week, now there’s nothing new on the horizon. It shakes itself out if you’re willing to stay in the game. Sitting on the sidelines bitching that it’s not the way it used to be, letting the ignorant have power, is the path to destruction. And that seems to be the path we are on.

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