How the Internet financially kills musicians and other artists

Posted in: Online TV/Music at 15/05/2017 01:11

The Internet revolution has a human cost. A case in point: Levon Helm was a member of the Band, a country-rock group that played with Bob Dylan. He once made a good income from royalties, but then the money dried up. People still liked his music, but now they listened to it on the Internet. After Helm was diagnosed with throat cancer, he struggled to pay his medical bills. When he died in 2012, his friends held a benefit concert so his wife wouldn’t lose their house.

Jonathan Taplin tells this story in his impassioned new book, “Move Fast and Break Things.” Taplin is a former tour manager for Dylan and the Band as well as a film producer. He has had a front-row seat to the digital disruption of the music and film industries, and he is furious about it.
This “winner take all” scenario also applies to artists. People may be consuming more content than ever, but most creators aren’t reaping the gains. Part of the problem is piracy, but the streaming music business isn’t helping much, either. Spotify, for example, doesn’t pay artists very much. In 2015, Taplin notes, “vinyl record sales generated more income for music creators than the billions of music streams on YouTube and its ad-supported competitors.”

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