The conclusion the article drew (and I agree with) about streaming music changing things for songwriters is that “songwriters will have only dear friends and gentle hearts to support them.” The article made that a negative, but I think it’s not the last nail in the coffin for DIY songwriters. There are a lot of dear friends and gentle hearts out there.
The article directed its polemics mainly at Spotify. But as I’ve mentioned before, Spotify is great if you already stream your music on sites like Bandcamp and Soundcloud because at least Spotify pays you something. But still, they pay pennies, literally.
But Michelle Lewis, singer-songwriter, had some different thoughts about the streaming service:
“I realized, ‘I have this hit. This is going to be good! ‘Nearly three million streams on Spotify!’ And then my check came, and it was for seventeen dollars and seventy-two cents. That’s when I was, like, ‘What the f***?’”
Why is it now — in the streaming age of music — so difficult to make money as a songwriter? According to The New Yorker, the problem is the monopoly-grabbing record labels:
Having lost out, historically, on income derived from performance royalties and sound recording for terrestrial radio, [the record labels] were careful, in the digital era, to guarantee themselves income, and in some cases equity interest, from streaming.
So wherever you are out there, dear friends and gentle hearts, we songwriters will need you more and more.