December was the last @Bandcamp Friday, a day where the company waived its usual cut of the revenue to pass on more money to artists and rightsholders. Here's a thread with some lessons we can learn. 1/🧵
There's no question that this initiative was successful beyond anyone's expectations. Originally announced as a one-time effort, it was extended to a total of 15 days. Bandcamp reports that fans paid artists/labels $61 million on those 15 days since March 2020. 2/🧵
Do a little math, and you can see the waived rev-share works out to an effective donation by @bandcamp of roughly $7 million. But it's also the case that the initiative helped motivate a lot of music-buying that wouldn't have happened otherwise. 3/🧵
It's also been good business for Bandcamp, which was one of the first digital music services to be profitable; as we've long argued, services can distinguish themselves in the marketplace is by competing to better serve musicians with artist-friendly policies. 4/🧵
In this thread from March 2020, we spelled out some of the reasons that Bandcamp is able to make moves like this while big competitors cannot. 5/🧵
Even with the constraints of their business models, the big services could be doing much more. This article by @jonbern from early in the pandemic is worth revisiting now.…
Spotify, for example, donated $10 million to various COVID/music related relief efforts. Which is good, but if the much much smaller Bandcamp can donate $7m, $10m (or roughly .1% of Spotify's annual revenue) doesn't seem that impressive.
Spotify and other big digital services do deserve credit for supporting covid relief legislative efforts and actively working in DC for their passage. But the goodwill generated by this work may be undercut by aggressive moves to pay musicians and songwriters less.
But back to some positive lessons: small companies with business models that aren't focused on mass-audience approaches can still be profoundly impactful. The key is having a close enough relationship with artists themselves to know what is helpful. 9/🧵
So much of the discourse focuses on the biggest artists, biggest labels, biggest services. By focusing our attention on the experiences of individual artists operating at community scale, we can get a more richly textured view of what's happening. 10/🧵
In fact, that's true of the full array of public policy topics that impact musicians, from health care to copyright, from arts funding to competition policy. 11/🧵

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More from @future_of_music

12 Jan
The DMCA is in the news again, after some Twitch streamers are facing suspensions for streaming TV shows without a license. Among other things, it reveals some serious misunderstandings about what the DMCA is and how it works.
One big myth is that the DMCA made it illegal to stream unlicensed music and TV shows and that if DMCA was repealed, users could just stream whatever they want.
In fact, the create a liability exemption for services hosting content posted by users. The service isn't liable for what the users post, as long as they comply with a set of practices and procedures.
Read 7 tweets
12 Aug 21
The answer is 6-7%. Fascinatingly, most respondents dramatically overestimated the amount.
For a while, all 3 majors and Merlin (a rights aggregator representing independent labels) had equity totaling close to 18%. But those numbers went down after more investment rounds. Merlin and Warner sold off their equity post-IPO. Sony eventually sold half of its stake.
So now it’s just Universal and Sony that have small stakes in the company. Now, you might ask, “does that mean these companies get 6-7% of my monthly subscription?” It’s complicated, but that’s a different pool of money.
Read 13 tweets
12 Aug 21
Guess how much of Spotify's equity is owned by major labels right now (no cheating)
The answer is around 6-7%. Most of y’all were way off!
Major labels do have a lot of power in the industry. So do large technology firms. The specifics of where that power lies and how it’s leveraged are extremely important in figuring out the right solutions.
Read 4 tweets
11 Aug 21
Sometimes people look at the challenges artists, songwriters, and indie labels face in trying to earn sustainable revenues from recorded music and conclude "copyright is broken." Let's unpack that with a quick THREAD. #FixStreaming 1/?
"Copyright is broken" is an attractive bumper sticker; it expresses legitimate frustrations that might be felt by creators, audiences, etc. But it doesn't do much to advance understanding of the situation we're all in. 2/
To begin with, it's binary. It imagines copyright (a system that has evolved over hundreds of years that encompasses laws, abstract concepts, real-world practices, institutions) as something that can either be broken or unbroken. 3/
Read 26 tweets
20 Feb 21
Much of the chatter about Twitch and Metallica and copyright is getting the facts and the history wrong. Quick thread.
The short version is that people are confusing the DMCA itself with particular companies' choices about how to implement the DMCA. That works to the benefit of huge companies like Amazon (owner of Twitch); they end up escaping scrutiny.
Jeff Bezos is worth $197 Billion. Twitch can afford to pay for music licensing! And any artist who controls their own publishing has the ability to waive their exclusive rights if they want to perform their own material and don't mind that the service isn't paying them.
Read 22 tweets
20 Feb 21
This is a really interesting small study on what's working with music livestreams. It's also a good example of how to present research. (quick thread)…
First, the study acknowledges its limitations up front. It's a quite small sample size, and a specific group of respondents whose experience may not be representative of broader populations.
Importantly the authors make an effort to identify gaps in the data: "none of the respondents identified as disabled/having a disability ...we do not have the perspective of anyone who is blind/low vision or deaf/hard-of-hearing [... ] trying to navigate livestreams."
Read 6 tweets

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