All I Want is 1%

Just finished reading this article about from David Byrne in the Guardian. And I can see the point being made here. The gyrations a musician must go through just to make a buck are ridiculous. Anyone who does the work, develops something worth listening then has to get lucky enough to land a distribution contract with a company that will invariably take home a significant chunk of their creative pie.

This problem is not just a musician problem.  It seems to be affecting everyone who happens to be involved in a creative process.  You do the work and someone with a printing machine and a business degree takes home the lions share of your profit.  But embedded in this article is a very good business idea.  Byrne references the idea that the online game is about domination.  And he is correct.

There aren’t two Facebooks or Amazons. Domination and monopoly is the name of the game in the web marketplace.

The amounts these services pay per stream is minuscule – their idea being that if enough people use the service those tiny grains of sand will pile up. Domination and ubiquity are therefore to be encouraged. We should readjust our values because in the web-based world we are told that monopoly is good for us.

But its not the online streaming services that are taking the lion’s share of the available streaming revenue, is it?  They get their cut sure, but the record label that the artist sign on to are the people making the dough.

Here is the good news, Amazon has already pioneered the work necessary to make major inroads in this market.  Kindle Direct Publishing is a great way to publish if you are an aspiring author.  You retain the rights to your work and only lose exclusivity if you opt into their expanded distribution marketplace through KDP select.  Amazon already has the physical printing facilities and online distribution network to bring music direct to customers through CreateSpace or something similar.  After their purchase of Audible Amazon become one of the world’s largest digital audio outlets.

I can see Amazon creating two things, a streaming service a la Spotify (or buying one outright for that matter) and then an independent publication network similar to or part of KDP for musicians.  If structured correctly, then the music industry, such as it is, would necessarily need to start offering its artists a better deal because those artists would have the option to avoid waiting to be discovered while still retaining the rights to their music.

Amazon, this is a great idea.  All I want is 1% of sales and you can have it.

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