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New survey shows musicians getting a rough deal


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Musicians all over the world have booked their tracks using global streaming platforms like Spotify for several years. However, South African musicians report only sparse income from streaming music.

When our 2020 survey revealed this, we wondered if part of the reason was a lack of experience. At the time, the COVID lockdown made live performances impossible, prompting many South African musicians to try something like an alternative revenue stream.

In 2022, we’ve expanded and deepened that research. And we found that income from Music streaming is still poor. More, main International learn now tooshow same income trends everywhere.

Those studies suggest that, without urgent reform, the entire streaming system has been rigged against musicians. And genres and musicians on the periphery of the Western-dominated music industry have been hit hardest.

We listened to comments from 279 musical actors—local artists, venues, and backgrounds—and brought international findings on board. The Full reportDigital Futures 2 Bringing Music Online in South Africa, confirms, with more nuance, that our 2020 findings are accurate.

A much larger sample spread across all provinces proved that South African musicians are no starters in the world of streaming: 77% of respondents participated in some activity even before COVID happened. Just over 40% use methods including web analytics to track the performance of their business. But despite this, and while the data also shows an improved audience and more artists now owning their streaming rights, the earnings picture remains just as bleak.

“Poor” or “very poor” is how 63% of respondents rate their income. At best, streaming provides a supplement to other music-related earnings, such as live performances or equipment rental. At worst, it’s a drain on them – because of the platform fees. Without funding, most people wouldn’t be able to stream.

Musicians are losers

South African musicians pay a dollar-equivalent fee to post their music on an international platform. They are allocated a payout whenever a track is streamed. But each stream is best a few percent of US cents, depending on the platform. What the listener pays does not go directly to the artist. It goes into a global pot and is then allocated — after deducting platform service fees. The allocation is done through complex algorithms based on many factors, including the artist’s existing share of the market and where their listeners are based.

South African artists find themselves in the same boat as their international colleagues, even those in countries with much stronger digital infrastructures. The World Intellectual Property Organization goes as far as to suggest that streaming, now controlled by several global platforms, is eroding the ecosystem that nurtures music creativity.

While platform and label revenue is growing from streaming, there’s been “no decline for performers,” the organization said. speak.

Even worse in South Africa

In South Africa, these problems are enhanced by a large amount digital device and an undeveloped policy environment. Official copyright policy—including recommendations Copyright Amendment Bill—not even discussing interactions with globally dominant platforms. Nor does it address the possibility of new forms of royalty designed for streaming rather than broadcast or publication.

South African audiences lack easy, affordable digital access. The production and ongoing online advertising involvement required by musicians are also constrained by similar circumstances.

Meanwhile, survey respondents expressed urgent concerns about digital piracy, intellectual property theft, illegal sharing, and how social media companies “work.” with our original music”. The status of load cuts, regularly scheduled power cuts due to rickety electricity infrastructure are often mentioned. Electrical problems that particularly affect music have the greatest potential audiences in towns (usually underdeveloped urban areas inhabited by black South Africans) or rural areas. One person wrote: “Some of my fans don’t understand streaming technology; some don’t have phones that allow them to stream.” Other: “Poor network and offloading affect production.”

Our conclusion is that unless change occurs, streaming offers a very limited future for South African musicians.

What is needed?

Respondents called for faster official action to close the digital divide and develop other demand-side stimuli for the South African music industry. Supporting music creators (providers) is not enough if the audience can’t afford or access their product. Respondents said the government should partner with royalty collection agencies to interact with global platforms.

Longstanding grievances surrounding the efficient collection and disbursement of royalties in South Africa are now combined with the urgent need for policy engagement with global platforms to seek payment modes. fairer. (Sadly, however, record companies and record labels are still seen as poor communicators with musicians, as they were in 2020.)

The musicians and music service providers who responded to this survey demonstrated solid practical experience in managing their operations. They acknowledge that “the world is changing rapidly”. They named areas where they would welcome training and more information, because “we need to create more consistently, regardless of the country’s support context.”

One striking and positive finding was about how respondents saw their reasons for streaming. In the thematic analysis of all the open responses, a sense of mission and social purpose is constantly re-emerged: inspiring listeners; provide hope; “express feelings that people are afraid to express”; and support the beauty of African musical heritage. Our respondents know they can and can’t make money from posting music online, but they do it “not to seek attention or likes, but to share experiences.” our slum experience and story.”

But musicians need to eat to tell their stories. National training and needs-based interventions can help, but problems with musician with a global and systematic streaming system that also needs attention from policymakers at that level.

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quote: Streaming music in South Africa: New survey shows musicians getting a rough deal (in 2022, December 6) retrieved December 7, 2022 from https://techxplore.com/ news/2022-12-music-streaming-south-africa-survey. html

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