Apple Music and the future of the music industry

“In case you don’t know the economics of the music industry, it is generally pretty ugly for most artists. Unless you are a largely successful artist, your cut of sales can range between ten to twenty-five percent depending on how well you negotiated your contract (Those were the common percentages 15 years ago when I did work in the music industry. Doubtful much has changed). Labels simply act as investors,” Ben Bajarin writes for Tech.pinions. “From getting discovered, signed, cutting an album, getting your album in retail, into circulation on the radio, promoted on TV, or the web, it all leads to one desired end goal for the artist’s financial interests-performing live.”

“If I’m an up and coming artist newly signed by a label, my deal inevitably sucks. My hope is my song gets lots of air time and climbs the charts, generating awareness and a following. Historically, artists depended on tastemakers to like what they hear and want to expose it to listeners on their radio station. In the past, this was not been done by algorithms. If I’m an artist wanting to get discovered, I’m not sure I’d want to leave my fate in the hands of an algorithm. So radio DJs have played key roles in artists’ success,” Bajarin writes. “This is where Apple building DJ-run radio stations starts to get interesting. If Apple can build out a number of genre-specific radio stations run and curated by DJs to expose listeners to not only the best music of that genre but help them discover new music as well, it could wind up being huge for artists.”

Much,much more in the full article – recommendedhere.

MacDailyNews Take: This is why, with Apple Music, it’s free to view the artist feeds and follow them on Connect, listen to the live DJ-powered Beats 1 radio station, and listen to Apple Music radio stations (curated stations organized by genre or user-created stations based on any any song, album, or artist).


  1. “From getting discovered, signed, cutting an album, getting your album in retail, into circulation on the radio, promoted on TV, or the web, it all leads to one desired end goal for the artist’s financial interests-performing live.”

    Or your daddy could buy into the Record Label that signed you like Taylor Swift

    1. Thing is, if Taylor Swift was merely a dilettante as you suggest, her career would’ve puttered out by now. The fact is that she’s a talented songwriter and musician with a real soul, and that’s why fans respond to her so passionately.

  2. When all the dust has settled, even with their enormous iTunes customer base, I would be surprised if Apple Music garners anything more than a footnote in the annals of music history’s future.

    There is a fine line between being confident and ambitious and being arrogant and greedy.

    I believe this new Apple has crossed that line… and not just once, but many times over. When you are apathetic to the people that afforded you your success, then you have a serious problem.

    This is the precarious situation that the new Apple now finds itself in. This company has milked and exploited all the products that Jobs had dilligently worked hard to conceive. Now when it comes to creating compelling new products and services, Apple’s new leader has been exposed as being lazy. For many he is viewed as a person who expends more energy asserting his own LGBT lifestyle agenda, as opposed to being someone who is capable of the type of true creativity and vision that could propel Apple well into the future.

    If it makes the MDN community feel better to simply dismiss me as being a vindictive troll then so be it.

    Just do me a favor, take a good and hard look at the new Apple. Do you even recognize it, because I certainly do not.

  3. As someone with a very similar history, I’m not sure I agree regarding the algorithm.

    As an independent struggling artist trying to catch a break, hoping a DJ would find you, like you and play you is a lottery-type gamble, with similar odds of winning the jackpot; DJs are personalities susceptible to all sorts of influences that often skew the playing field.

    If an algorithm notices that some listeners are associating your tracks with someone else (with much greater following), it will then begin showing your tracks in recommendation to others, or play your tracks on the radio channel associated with that well known someone else.

    What remains profoundly depressing in the entire music industry is, unless you publish essentially completely independently, but have some money (and connections) to promote yourself, signing with the label is the most abusive, exploitative and unfair relationships in the capitalist world you could possibly imagine. Here is a typical scenario.

    You play with your band in night clubs, delivering pizza (or some other meaningless day job) during the week to support yourself. An “A&R” person from record label hears your band and offers you a record deal: you get 15% of all the revenue label gets from you. The label will pay for the studio time, engineer and producer. You cut your CD! But not so fast; the CD is NOT yours, it belongs to the label. You may or may not get a few free copies, but the rest you buy. Label begins selling your album (Wal-Mart, Best Buy, iTunes, wherever). You are still not seeing a penny from your CD; all revenue goes to the label, and from your share (the 15%, they will withhold payments UNTIL all the studio time and other expenses are recovered. Your album climbs the charts, label schedules a tour. You start touring, but no money comes from the tour revenue, until label recovers ALL expenses related to the tour from YOUR 15%. In other words, you financed EVERYTHING — producing the album, scheduling and producing the tour, all of it, and in return, you got only 15% of all the profit from the album and ticket sales. Label paid for NOTHING, but will continue to take 85% of net profits on anything and everything you ever earn as a signed artist with them. So, the only thing that label is investing is some initial risk (paying for the production of the album, before any of it sells).

    The main problem is, even with the iTunes and the ability to produce your music on your own, you still don’t have the backing of a record label that would get your album out to the DJs who will spin it on radio. Very few completely independent acts were able to make it big entirely without a record label.

    I’m still hoping Apple Music might change this.

  4. Hey, Apple, if you really want to help struggling artists, then for God’s sake publish regional or county lists of upcoming live performances and update them on a daily basis.

    Develop the connections, give plugs for artists and their venue of choice. This would be potentially more valuable to the artists that are starting out than their music as an unknown on the Apple music site.

    This was the traditional way performers gained recognition since the days of the Minstrels in England.

  5. The algorithm was developed when physical sales were HUGE.
    This is a new era, and while local club DJ’s indeed have influence, I’m not sure it’s enough to get you noticed. Artists either have to have an “in” or they need to be very lucky or content having a tiny piece of the pie in a more regional sense. The music industry woefully fought the digital revolution rather than embracing it. The dinosaurs running it wanted to keep their jets and mansions. Those days are dying, and they still barely get it. I too work in the industry, and it has dismayed me to see the downfall over 15 years…good luck to Apple. I love music and I’d like to see it become big again while supporting the ARTISTS that make the music.

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