“The times they are a’changin’” is true now and forever. Once again, the big “musicbiz” giants are making many of us indie folk shift our priorities.
If you listen to my music on Deezer or Spotify, I’m really grateful to you! If you share or add my tracks to playlists, I’m hugely thankful for that, too. And now for the rest of the story…
In the middle of 2023, streaming service Deezer and publishing giant Universal Music signed a deal to shift royalty payments towards the big acts in Universal’s catalog and reduce new music discovery. Though they touted it as “artist-centric”, I have no doubt this is taking aim at independent musicians and labels. Their priorities are clear.
Spotify already had an abysmal reputation regarding royalties. But they thought Deezer’s new approach was so cool that they jumped on board and will be follow suit in the coming year. Talk about priorities.
Soon after Spotify made this announcement, two of the playlists I curated for independent artist tracks were flagged as fraudulent. So far as I know (even after re-reading the dense and long terms of service again), I did not violate any of their rules. Furthermore, I have never paid for promotion (which is too likely to be listening “robots”) by any third party. After they notified me about this flagging, dozens of other indie artists confirmed that their playlists were also taken down. So, I’m pretty sure I know why they are flagging these particular playlists. If I’m correct, it’s a dirty game they are playing.
Emphasize the good
I like shifting priorities when it contributes to my own health and improves my relationships as a result. That’s why I’m in the process of culling many things at the moment. This ranges from commercial e-mail lists that no longer serve me to forms of music self-promotion that provide no return.
As you can tell by what I’ve told you so far, I’ll be prioritizing the streaming services differently. Previously, one of those forms of self-promotion was playlist curation on Spotify. I was spending countless hours recruiting indies, listening to their tracks, and sharing playlists on this platform. I’ll leave those streaming services in my listings, but I will no longer promote them specifically. (And just like that: Look how much time I just saved for romping through the forest with RB!)
Instead, I’ll be prioritizing the streaming platforms that seem to care about unsigned musicians like me. Because of my experiences so far, initially I’ll be focusing on Pandora, Apple Music, and YouTube. Each of these offers a decent toolkit for indie artists. Plus, I have always felt like their play-count and payouts are a tiny bit more honest. As time permits, I’m sure I’ll be writing about my experiences. After all, I may have to shift my priorities again. Thanks for following along.
As I noted earlier, I’m also downsizing other things including my in-box. During the most recent flurry of music gear sales, I noticed how few of them even caught my attention. I chatted with a number of other musicians who were similarly disinterested.
So, I’ve been unchecking the “subscribe” button dozens of times recently. This is only one other example of how I’m aligning my priorities with my life.
I cannot stop composing, writing, and performing music. Hopefully, it’s obvious to you that I get too much internal return from it to stop. But I can easily prioritize what’s working for me. There’s no need for me to put effort towards things that have no return. I’d much rather play the piano in the dining room while my beloved spouse makes us a delicious dinner.