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Let’s Get Real With Jeff Paulick 8/10: Breaking Down Century Media’s “Spotify” Press Release

Posted by on August 10, 2011

Let’s Get Real with Jeff Paulick is a column on Metal Insider featuring the thoughts and opinions from Lazarus A.D.singer/bassist Jeff Paulick. He’ll be sharing his views on everything from the music industry to life on the road (and everything in between) in this bi-weekly column.

No need for a long intro. This one needs to get going right now! SPOTIFY WAR, GO GO GO! Damn, has this little application caused a lot of chaos in the past few weeks, which I’m still in love with (check my last blog for more info)! This week, Century Media, a highly respected metal label, issued a press release explaining why they were pulling their catalog from Spotify. AND, they even wrote this awesome email to the Metalsucks camp explaining themselves even further after they were pseudo-slammed by the site, which they then cleverly posted and broke down again. I LOVE IT. Well, I’m not a metal journalist. I’m a musician. So I’m here to break down the official statement and tell you how I feel about it. NOTE: THIS IS THE PERSONAL OPINION OF JEFF PAULICK, THIS DOES NOT REFLECT THE VIEWS OF LAZARUS A.D. OR METAL INSIDER AS A WHOLE IN ANY WAY SHAPE OR FORM. 😀 (ed. note: This also doesn’t reflect the views of Lazarus’ label, Metal Blade, whose president declined to comment when asked about CM’s stance yesterday).

“While everyone at the label group believes in the ever changing possibilities of new technology and new ways of bringing music to the fans, Century Media is also of the opinion that Spotify in its present shape and form isn’t the way forward. Ultimately, in some cases, it will completely kill a lot of smaller bands that are already struggling to make ends meet.” Case in point, I am a small band that is struggling, and holding out on Spotify is NOT going to help my ends meet. In fact, the ONLY thing it is going to do is inhibit users from discovering and listening to my music. (EXAMPLE: I was searching Girl Talk on Spotify the other day. It came up with a list of his jams as well as a song titled “Talk Down the Girl” by The Veils {a band I never heard of before}. I checked out that song AND even listened to all of their albums. And guess what, wouldn’t you know it I’m fan now. And I would have never discovered them otherwise). So, I’m gonna go further with this argument, but I don’t even fucking need to because just by random song title association, I was steered into something I had never heard before. And BECAUSE this band’s catalog was oh so conveniently featured, I’m now really hooked on them, and consistently streaming their music and telling others about them. Spotify 1, old school mentality label 0.

“The income streams to the artists are affected massively and therefore that accelerates the downward spiral, which eventually will lead to artists not being able to record music the way it should be recorded.” How can you connect the income from a stream to “not being able to record music the way it should be recorded”? Well how in the fuck is it supposed to be recorded??? By buying in to the notion that you need a ton of $ to rent a good studio/producer/engineer/mixer/master? WRONG. Case in point: Misha Mansoor of Periphery. The kid recorded the best sounding CD of 2010 in his fucking bedroom. Without any type of advance from any label, he utilized digital outlets to become known around the world. And wouldn’t you know it, they signed a licensing deal, meaning they still own their own music. Periphery is smarter than the industry. And I’m still dumbfounded that Century Media would be so blunt and try to say that the lack of income from Spotify streams directly inhibits a good recording. That is so far from the truth. Now, I understand not every band is Periphery, and yes a good recording and producer can go a long way. BUT recording is getting easier and cheaper as technology progresses. Old school studios will be obsolete soon. DIY tracking is the future.

“At the same time Century Media also believes that Spotify is a great tool to discover new music and is in the process of reintroducing their bands to Spotify by way of putting up samplers of the artists. This way, fans can still discover the great music released by the label.” Well at least they got that right. No different from Amazon snippets…I haven’t done that since I was like 13.

“Physical sales are dropping drastically in all countries where Spotify is active. Artists are depending on their income from selling music and it is our job to support them to do so. Since the artists need to sell their music to continue their creativity, Spotify is a problem for them. This is about survival, nothing less and it is time that fans and consumers realize that for artists it is essential to sell music to keep their heads above water.” Every piece of this statement is completely ass backwards. It’s obvious physical sales are dropping….NOT JUST WHERE SPOTIFY IS. I am not depending on selling music for my income. In fact, I have two jobs when I’m not touring to help with my income. I’ll take a page from a good friend of mine Buz McGrath of Unearth. On one of our first tours he told me that he wasn’t in the music business, but that he was in the ticket and t-shirt business, and there is nothing closer to the truth than that. Every band from Metallica to the local hit in your city makes their money on tickets and t shirts. NOT SELLING MUSIC. I’m sure Metallica sees money on music, but I would wager that’s not where the bulk of the cheddar is being harvested consistently (Ok the Black Album sold like 21 million, so that might be a bad example). KISS sells records, but they sell EVERYTHING else. They made a brand, they marketed that brand, and they made a shit ton of money off of it, and people still go to see their show. This is exactly what all bands do and will continue to do. And the last part of this paragraph…I do not, I repeat, I DO NOT need to sell my music to continue my creativity. I created music before the label, I create music while I’m on the label (with or without their financial support) and I will continue to create music well after there aren’t any labels. My creativity stems from my passion and love for music, the struggles and triumphs in my personal life, the drive to be successful and to experience life to its utmost possibility, not from a fucking advance check from the record label.

“Obviously it is ultimately up to the music fan and consumer, how they access their music, whether it is buying, streaming or stealing. There needs to be awareness though, that how you will consume your music has direct consequences for the artists, who we are all trying to support.” This is very true. If you buy my record at my show for $10, I see a $2 direct profit VS. the 10 cent profit if you were to buy it in the store (which goes directly back to recoupment of the label’s advances). I see something like 50% of digital sales (which also goes back to recoupment), but each service has a different % breakdown. So that gets hairy. So in turn, by completely bypassing all the retail, digital, and streaming outlets, you actually help out the band the most! But, that’s stupid. You want your music now, and I totally agree with you. Do me a huge solid instead. Get my music however you see fit, and come to my concert. Buy my t-shirt, spread the word about my band. That is how bands become successful and maintain careers at this stage of the game. That business model has not and will never change.

The biggest problem I have with this press release is how unnecessary it was. If they wanted to pull their catalog, fine. It’s their business and who am I to tell them how to run it? But to come out publicly and try to sugarcoat their actions and say they are protecting the best interest of their artists? I bet 99% of CM’s roster would totally disagree with this release. They are protecting their best interests, which is making money. Don’t ever think for a second that there is any other more important motive in the music industry. Whether it be management, booking agents, labels, you name it, at the end of the day, everyone in that game is there to make money. And now they are making less money because somebody else figured out a way around them. PANIC BUTTON. Let’s see how much flack I catch for this rant :O

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