Attended the inaugural session of Spotify Talks, where a panel consisting of Calvin Wong (Warner Music), Tan Chee Meng (Spotify), Sunita Kaur (Spotify), Linying (Artist) and, Kevin Foo (Foundation Music) discussed the topic “Looking Beyond the Music”.

As we sat listening attentively to the thoughts and opinions of the panellists, we were struck by a couple of points.

One was the response to a question we raised regarding the general perception that Spotify (and other streaming services) were benefiting themselves at the expense of the artists.

After all, it is an often-quoted fact that the average per-stream payout for having a song played on Spotify was $0.004891. To put this into perspective, if your song was played a million times, you would be paid $4,891. Seems like an inequitable return by any measure.

Well, from Spotify’s point of view, they were confident that music streaming was “on the path to world domination” and the “tipping point” was coming very soon. As streaming revenues continued to grow, the time would come when artists would get their due.

And this is not a hypothetical case study for Singapore artists as Linying herself has had THREE songs viz. “Sticky Leaves”, “Alpine” and “Paris 12” that have each been played over a million times.

While acknowledging herself that the streaming revenue itself was not significant (despite the numbers) Linying did highlight that those impressive numbers opened many other doors for her – being signed to overseas labels and performing to foreign audiences, among them.

So yes, it’s less than perfect but it’s undeniable that the situation before the introduction of streaming was much worse with illegal downloading. Lest we forget those dark days.

The second thing that pricked our ears was Warners’ Calvin Wong declaration that his label wants to sign more Singapore artists! Hopefully he was referring to English language music as well! Well, let’s assume that he was.

These takeaways gave us pause and drove us deep into thought. Taking these statements at face value, are we very close to the time where Spotify (and other streaming services) and Warners (and other major labels) will take the reins and actually lead the development of the Singapore music scene? Will they bring us to a new Golden Age where Singapore artists are able to make their musical careers sustainable playing their original music?

If so, that would certainly alleviate the burden of the National Arts Council (NAC), where the NAC should really be providing funding support in situations where the music corporations are not able to cover – for instance, for more artistic and experimental music.

And why stop there? Taking this argument to its logical conclusion, it made sense that every music industry stakeholder should contribute to the well-being of the artist. For without the artist, there would no industry to begin with.

So, here’s a wild idea – form a music authority to look after the interests of artists and have these stakeholders provide the funding. Let’s have the streaming services, the major labels, COMPASS, the promoters, the nightspots and of course, the NAC come together for this excellent cause.

… still there’s more …

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