Audiences must be more progressive with musicians

Photo Credit: Erica Barillari · The Sentry

Photo Credit: Erica Barillari · The Sentry
Local entertainers need further support

The US music industry has notably grown into a multi-billion-dollar industry, making it harder for smaller musicians to break into. Because of the vastness of the music industry, supporting local artists has grown to be important for  artists and musicians to make a living at their craft.

The music industry is suffering immensely with the lack of physical sales in CDs and digital downloads through iTunes. Typically, smaller musicians place their music on streaming services through websites, like CD Baby and TuneCore, when just starting out; however, streaming services pay the artist very little. Maddi Shea, a recording arts major, said, “It’s a tight industry to get into, especially with the era of Soundcloud (or other streaming services) and purchasing vs. ripping the quality of songs (taking works without a copyright).” 

Spotify pays $0.006 to $0.0084 per stream, and the artist will only get the entirety of that amount if they own all of the rights to the song. This means that if the artist is signed to a label, then that miniscule amount will then be split between the artist, label, producers, and even the songwriters if the song wasn’t originally written by the artist. 

Taylor Swift, despite being a household name, has frequently spoken out on the issue of how little streaming services pay and has even gone as far as taking her music off streaming services. If it’s this hard for Taylor Swift to make money through streaming, despite her support from millions of fans, then imagine just how difficult it is for artists with a few hundred to a few thousand.

In fact, less than five percent of working musicians make an actual living off of their music. conducted a survey of 200 musicians and found that “they’re making up the shortfall through merchandise and live performances. However, almost a quarter actually lose money on their musical endeavors. Seventy-two percent reported making a small profit but not enough to live on.” 

But sometimes even live performances fall short for many musicians. Even in a large city that has a growing music industry and a plethora of venues like Denver, it’s hard for obscure artists to book or get people to come out to shows. 

Even so, musicians frequently struggle with being taken advantage of from their friends and/or family members who expect free entry into shows or free merchandise just because they know them. 

To support these local musicians, and to give them enough momentum to become something in this highly competitive industry, audiences and music lovers need to be more accepting of smaller name artists. This could include purchasing merchandise and physical copies of recorded music; posting pictures of shows on social media to get other people involved; and buying tickets and attending shows for friends or family members who are musicians. After all, half of the battle in the music industry is getting buildup around the musician’s name. 

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