Truth Be Told! Who Gets Paid?

Rihanna.

HOLLYWOOD—Rob Stringer, the head of Sony Music, has said the company would not rule out launching a rival streaming service to Spotify. According to Stringer, Sony has hundreds of thousands of tracks going back 100 years. Stringer took over as CEO of Sony back in April 2017 and has seen the company’s revenues jump by 12 percent to top $4 billion.

That followed Sony acquiring the stake in a music publishing venture previously held by Michael Jackson’s estate, giving it ownership of more than two million classic songs. These include tracks by Queen, Carole King and the Motown catalogue, along with contemporary hits by Kanye West, Alicia Keys, Drake and Pink. Stringer suggested Sony could withhold some of those songs from streaming sites like Spotify and Apple Music if they started to encroach on the company’s business by signing and developing their own artist.

Stringer, according to published reports is more focused on developing the next innovations in delivering music than he was in competing directly with Spotify. Back in 2010, Sony launched a music and video download service intended to challenge Apple’s iTunes. Five years later it closed its Music Unlimited service to launch PlayStation Music in conjunction with Spotify.

Spotify now lets artists bypass labels and upload their own music. Just a few weeks ago Spotify sent out invitations to several hundred independent artists in the U.S. inviting them to a new feature that allows them to upload songs and albums directly. Yes, without going through a single label company, distribution group or Spotify employee-and automatically receive royalty payments in their bank accounts.

The feature, invite-only beta form for now, is a major update to the streaming company’s existing Spotify for Artists program, through which signed-up artists can manage their pages and view listener engagement metrics. Yes, these indie-artists upload their music without limits and receive their royalty payments every month. There is also a “future estimated payment” tool that allows artists to see projections on the next month’s earnings. By doing this, Spotify is cutting out more of the label’s traditional middleman role and giving some artists more control and transparency over their work than a label can provide.

Yet, it is important to remember that the emerging artist is still foregoing the vast resources and backing of a label. So who is number one on Spotify? Ed Sheeran with over 31 million followers, with number two being Rihanna, Drake in third place and coming in fourth is Justin Bieber. So if you make it to the top 100 Indie on Spotify that means you are making, here’s the math: Spotify pays about $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream to the holder of music rights. And the” holder” can be split among the record label, producers, artists, and songwriters.

When you hear a song on the radio, do you know who gets paid? How many times did you hear Britney Spears hit song “Baby One More Time?” If you think Britney earned any royalties, think again? Not a penny. Here is the deal, for most of the Billboard Hot 100, the artist did not write the hit song on their own. They either used a team of songwriters or “cut” recorded someone else’s composition entirely. The song “Baby One More Time,” was written by one of the most important and successful songwriters of our generation, Max Martin. So, every time you listen to the airplay Max Martin and his publisher receive performance royalties from ASCAP.

Max Martin, rose to prominence in the late 90s after making a string of major hits for artists such as Britney Spears, Backstreet Boys and NSYNC. According to Variety, his net worth was an estimated at $260 million in 2017. He has written or co-written 22 Billboard Hot 100 number-one hits, most of which he has produced or co-produced, including Katy Perry’s “I Kissed a Girl, Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space,” and The Weeknd’s “Cant Feel My Face.” Martin has won the ASCAP Songwriter of the Year award a record 10 times.

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