We all know that we are consuming too much for the planet. A third of all food we produce is thrown away as waste. That is 50,000kg or 11,0231lb a second thrown away as waste in the world and as Greta Thunberg has pointed out it’s not sustainable.
In an interview not long ago Marcus Ek from Spotify told artists that they need to release more content when he was questioned about Spotify and how they paid out so little to artists.
I just feel that we are doing the same stupid mistakes in the music business as we do in our food consumption. The new streaming economy is just one click and then forget it.
Same as the food; we produce a mountain of apples so you can have just one. And we produce a mountain of songs for you to listen to just one. Of course, this will affect the quality. To be able to produce a mountain you need start by giving fertilizer to the project, and you want everything to grow faster. Yes, you will get a decent product but it is not that perfect product that you had before.
During the pandemic now people suddenly have more time to grow their own things. I even bought a greenhouse and now the harvest comes. Yes, my slow grown tomatoes, cucumber, and chilies taste much fresher and better than the ones I buy in the supermarket. Probably also because I put in quite more love into growing these vegetables. I have been out there every day watering and cutting off bad leaves, pruning and taking care of the plants. The end result is better than if I had just grown a thing in less nutrient soil and just gone for fertilizer to grow it fast to just consume it faster.
It feels as the new space for creating music is now more and more going this way. But why is that necessary? Easy, the music that you create and produce is driving the systems. You are not an art creator you are a content creator. If we stopped feeding posts on Facebook and Instagram, stopped putting up videos on YouTube,TikTok and music and ipods on Spotify then they won’t exist. They need people to give them free content.
Also, they are feeding on you in a very strange way if you have a fan base on these sites. They only let around 10% of these fans see that you have released a new song in the mountain of songs they expect you to produce. If you want to reach more you need to pay. Funny thing it’s like the apple producer; to grow the apples then after that when they sold 10 apples they have to pay extra fees to sell more apples. At the end that just leaves you to produce with less quality or just cancel the whole thing since you won’t be proud of what you produce.
Question, do you really need these sites? In a way, yes, streaming music is around 25% of the economy of the music industry. The live side though has been 50%. We don’t know what will happen after the pandemic ends. But I can easily say that music won’t die and the live scene won’t be replaced by streaming content. We have a great opportunity to build up the new live industry, so it benefits the artist that just releases every third year. The ones that want slow quality music should have a chance here to perform quality art, the ones that want to leave the hamster wheel of social media.
We know for sure that even if you have millions of Spotify streams that doesn't mean that you will draw thousands of people to the concert. Almost the opposite effect. We can easily see that the mass consumption of music in just the form of a post on social media is just to entertain the audience for a couple of seconds. A concert is something that contains entertainment for hours. You might meet up with good friends before the show. You go out and eat and then go and listen to quality music. That might be a whole evening to sustain your mind. Not just a ten second click.
I have a good hunch that the stress and mental illness around the music community will now have two parts to it. One is that we start talking about it. Which is really great. The other is the stress of making content for non-stoppable social media platforms. I am starting though to see artists that more or less ready to leave the race. And I think they are right. I don’t need a post from my favorite artist every day. But I need a function so when you release a song, I would be certain to see that post. Yes, that could be done by social media sites. Or I would love to get the information that you are playing live close to where I am so I can see your performance. We need that kind of system too. My guess this will never happen.
We just have to look at how we can restart the live industry and start to build it so the artists can have a chance to write and record quality music and have time to rehearse a great live show. My mind needs more of that quality, the same with this planet. We need more sustainable plans.
Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes scheduled for February 18-20, 2021.