David Byrne Implores Labels to Be Transparent About Streaming Revenue
David Byrne has been a vocal advocate on behalf of artists in the age of streaming, and in a new op-ed for the New York Times, the ex-Talking Heads leader calls for labels to be more transparent in their dealings with streaming services.
Byrne argues that while some streaming services, such as Spotify, have attempted to be forthcoming about what they do with the revenue from user subscriptions, he notes that it becomes increasingly hazy once that money moves hands to the labels.
I asked Apple Music to explain the calculation of royalties for the trial period. They said they disclosed that only to copyright owners (that is, the labels). I have my own label and own the copyright on some of my albums, but when I turned to my distributor, the response was, “You can’t see the deal, but you could have your lawyer call our lawyer and we might answer some questions.”
Byrne goes on to cite a source, who alleged that labels dole out “seemingly arbitrary” royalties to their artists. The singer also argues that the royalties artists do receive aren’t proportional to the current business model, which no longer requires labels to shoulder “manufacturing, breakage and other physical costs.”
What’s more, Byrne suggests labels are withholding revenue from other areas, too, including “advances from streaming services, catalog service payments for old songs and equity in the streaming services themselves.”
Read the entire op-ed right here.