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Opinion Take: Where Will We Land?

Just when I think I’ve got it figured out, something changes my mind. And, because of IPR, I’ve got to think about this stuff everyday: the headache continues…

According to an article I connected with via, Cold Play is refusing to license its latest album to Spotify. To be fair, they’ve made the decision not to license it to any other streaming services either. Though their label, EMI, hasn’t offered an explanation, it appears Cold Play’s sales and marketing plan for Mylo Xyloto is taking a more traditional route.

The idea behind this kind of marketing requires one to think like an artist. It has been assumed, and undoubtedly documented, that licensing an album to online streaming services, upon its release date, requires a forgoing of album sales. Why would anyone in their right mind pay for music they can stream for free, or, for that matter, as part of a cheap monthly subscription service?

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Artists are not altruists, as many of us would fashion them. If they’ve got a smart business sense, they want to maximize their profits. In this Case, Cold Play is doing what they think is in their best financial interests. I can’t blame them. They’ve decided to sell their music via iTunes and other downloading sites because they’re going to make more money than Spotify or any other service is going to pay them via a per-spin fee. Here’s what’s happening so far…

An article from the same source (, just three days later, claims that Cold Play has sold 40% of their records via downloads. Most of these have been through iTunes because this is where the band has focused most of its marketing and licensing efforts. Even so….

This may be a great way for a big artist to sell records, but what about the indie artist? Can this work for artists with little or no industry clout?

With all the controversy following Spotify’s payout scale (or the lack thereof), there’s no question even some indie labels don’t see Spotify as a viable way for them to do business:  Indie label pulls music from Spotify,  Another indie label pulls their music from Spotify. I’ve read too many articles like this in the past few months.

Some say that Spotify and other streaming services offer vast marketing appeal to up and coming artists. It exposes them to lots of new listeners, and pays said artists a lot more than they’re getting from all the free downloading that’s taking place.  Anything at all is better than nothing, right?

All this to say, I’m starting to think we’re going to land in a place where there is a mutually beneficial role for major labels, indie labels, broadcast radio, streaming services like Spotify, iTunes and artists at different stages of their careers. But I write this with a bit of hesitance because I’ve read things to suggest broadcast radio has a few chinks in its armor as well… if radio goes, according to Lefsetz, so do the majors. My head hurts, what about yours?

I would love to hear what you think; please leave your response below.

If you’re an “idea-person”, and you’re looking for a way to make your mark in the music and media industries, IPR may have a program that’s a good match for you. Request more information here.









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