I had a really good chat with Ted Eggers the day before yesterday, who does vocals and sometimes guitar for Bofo Kwo, a Finnish black/ death/ industrial metal band based on Ted's sci-fi novellas about the titular cannibal king. I asked him to talk to me about an issue important to him. This is what he had to say.
Me: You wanted to talk about streaming, Spotify, and other streaming services. Why is it important to you? What do you think people need to know about it?
Ted: I think mainly because bands don’t understand what actually is happening in the background and it has led to very strange conflicts between artists and various streaming services.
Me: What is the disadvantage of working with these kinds of platforms?
Ted: The payout is still quite low for Indie artists. But the worse part is the record label and publishing companies that make most of the money. Mainstream artists claim Spotify doesn't pay them enough but that is not the full truth. Their music is owned by the big four (major labels) and doesn’t still get very well compensated from Streaming services. The main bulk of the money ends up in the record execs pocket and they blame the streaming services.
Me: So do you think it's predatory? What determines how much the artists get paid?
Ted: Yes, Nothing has really changed, record execs, Publishers, management, and PR companies still get the bigger piece of the cake. Artists suffer and with the confusion of the streaming royalties and the labels securing extra money, there is less money left for artists. It is not possible to charge 10 dollars for streaming an album so all parts get less and that is the biggest problem. Basically, if they have a record deal the amount is decided by the label, not the streaming services. If you are an indie artist it depends on the distributor service like CD Baby etc. In the end, most money does not end up in the hands of the artists but it is still the same people in the biz who makes the most.
Me: Do you think another type of platform will become more popular and put these out of business? What would be fairer?
Ted: I don't think anything will change before we change the power pyramid among labels. Today it is already easier for Indie Artists to make money without a label. There are still make many label execs and people in the industry that takes too much. Spotify can't pay more than they do without losing money. However, that means things like Bandcamp Friday and selling physical CDs always will be an alternative. Mainly I think as long as artists are controlled by a few powerful labels the platform or means of distribution is not the problem. However I do feel the Internet has given more artists a place to grow, but just streaming services will not make it fairer to artists.
Me: I think the speed of social media has changed things in a few ways. I agree it's given people a new place to grow. But I think it allows for only a very, very short time to make an impression. What do you think are the challenges of that? What are the effects?
Ted: I think the main effect is sustainability can't be done as an artist anymore. In the '60s to '00s, artists could build a long-lasting career and be in the spotlight longer. Today new bands last much less time, a lot break up due to the hardships of touring and you can't stop grinding. The pressure and the attention of the public have got much harder and band members are more fluent. In most bands in the past, a lineup change is not a big deal, but for bands like stones U2, etc there have been fewer changes. Also today a member can easily quit a band due to a job in another state or similar. It has become very hard to be a band with the same members for longer than 3-4 years.
Me: Sometimes something wholly unthought of before then will come out of limitations. Do you think some new concepts are going to come out of this that will be positive changes?
Ted: Yes, I already see bands who gained all their success using streaming services and social media in very creative ways. I think as an artist it is our responsibility to find new ways of communicating with our fans and engage them in our music. Then live shows will never be out of fashion so as long as artists keep finding new ways to engage their fans and new fans it will change. The artists who are seen most in the media will also always have an advantage. So I for instance take every chance I have to appear in the spotlight as it benefits the band and if we can make creative things related to our music and live shows we can last longer. Also have more fun which is the most important. In the end, you just have to use the technology to your advantage but never lose your creativity in your presentation of your band profile. That being in social media and live or in the press.
Me: You do make it entertaining, Dude. You've got the gift of gab. I appreciate your answering my questions. Thanks so much.
Ted: It was a pleasure, I hope some bands can figure out how to navigate in the streaming world. Cheers and thanks for having me!
You can check out the album Legend of the Canabal King here:
I recommend it.