Working for free only pays off for the owners of AI. And then there’s a negative side.

Yes, the word around the pitstop on the race to The Singularity is that the Epsilons are getting tired. The dominance of artificial intelligence playlist algorithms on artists’ careers is beyond chafing at a surface level–it’s wearing away muscle and bone.

Stuart Dredge has an insightful post on the subject with a couple choice quotes:

“We’re asking artists to do a lot. They’re not just recording and touring. Now they’re expected to understand crypto and NFTs, and expected to be using TikTok on a regular basis, and be on their Twitter feed, and on Instagram, and creating content and engaging with fans,” said Matthew Maysonet, head of sales and marketing at Empire.

“It’s a huge task! They’re holding multiple jobs in addition to creating art, and I think a lot of times, people forget that music is art, and it takes a certain mindset and level of focus to create that itself, let alone commercialise and monetise it.”

“We do risk burnout for some artists who are using all these socials, including having to worry about the algorithms on different DSPs. ‘If I don’t release a single every five to six weeks I’m not pinging that algorithm and my monthly listeners are going to decrease…’”

“Those are things that artists never had to really worry about before, at least on this score. I’m excited to see how we as an industry accommodate and approach that over the next few years to even things out a little bit… I think it’s something we should be addressing.”

It is something we should be addressing, but it’s at the core of the streaming juggernaut that has made a number of powerful people very, very rich. We don’t have to renew Daniel Ek’s role as Simon Legree, but firing him will not be easy since he essentially is the streaming hegemon based on his supervoting shares of Spotify’s stock alone.

What is artificial intelligence that is at the core of playlist algorithms? it’s kind of like having a continual seat belt warning with an automated driving system that keeps you from moving over 5 mph but forces you to drive forward and then backward over endless speed bumps combined with always-on parental controls all rolled into one and implanted in your brain, but operated by droids who speak in sentences they claim to be declarative but end with a question inflection who keep warning you that you’re choosing not to work hard enough for a reward (so it’s your fault you’re broke) while Daniel Ek and the swamp children float through a miasma of misery asking “how many fingers, Winston?” as though that made sense. And you do it all for free so a Prime Mover can scrape your data, your fans’ data, and the data of your unborn children and sell it to the other members of the data timocracy, all for the hope of hitting a jackpot when the odds are all on the house. Because Justin Bieber.

Cool, huh? Let’s have more of that. And somewhere Russ Solomon is saying, “Miss me yet?” This is why I say “data is the new exposure.”

It’s becoming increasingly apparent that artists have had about enough of this whole thing, but having boarded Kafka’s Merry Go Round with hope, they are having a hard time getting off with their sanity.

Which is to say that changing this predictable Hunter S. Thompson universe we’ve allowed to fester is not going to be easy, but if we don’t…we may find that “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”

@stuartdredge: PledgeMusic founder responds to criticism over liquidation

PledgeMusic founder Benji Rogers has responded to criticism of the crowdfunding company’s liquidation this week in London. That criticism was based on the fact that Pledge had filed papers for its wind-up hearing in June, at a point when artists were being led to believe a sale might still be possible for the company….

Meanwhile, people are digging back into PledgeMusic’s past financial results – this blog post on music blog My Emu is Emo for example – to explore how and when it all started to go wrong.

Read the post on MusicAlly

Spotify’s $600 Million Loss, Currency Risk and What it Means for Artists — The Trichordist

Stuart Dredge over at Music Ally is reporting Spotify’s losses widened to $600 million last year. Read his article here. I just wanted to point out that some significant portion of these widening losses are due to currency swings. March 29th 2016 Spotify announced a $1 billion US denominated convertible debt deal with […]

via Spotify’s $600 Million Loss, Currency Risk and What it Means for Artists — The Trichordist

@stuartdredge: New Figures Show Per-Stream Payouts from Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and More

Spotify’s average per-stream payout has fallen by 16% since 2014, according to a new dataset published by artist-rights blog The Trichordist.

The figures are based on 2016 streaming data for an independent label with around 150 albums available digitally, which is compared to a similar study in 2014.

According to the analysis, Spotify generated $0.00437 per stream for the label in 2016, down from $0.00521 in 2014. Yet Spotify accounted for 69.6% of the label’s overall streaming revenues: its per-stream rate may have fallen, but its scale still makes it the major earner for this particular catalogue.

(Additional context: if Spotify users have become more engaged in its service over time, listening to more music by more artists, that would be a factor in the falling average per-stream payout. When Spotify relaunched its artists portal in November 2016, it stopped publishing its own figure for average per-stream payout to all rightsholders.)

Read the post on Music Ally