While the pandemic has negatively affected several industries, it has greatly benefited others. The global music industry, for one, grew as revenues rose by 7.4% in 2020. Fueled by streaming, spare time, and psychological factors, people have tuned in to listen to their favorite artists in droves.
However, musicians haven’t been rewarded for their contributions in kind. In fact it’s one of the industry’s open secrets; your favorite artists don’t get compensated accordingly. Streaming services pay as little as $0.006 and $0.0084 per play. And most of what an artist earns is pocketed by record labels, publishers, and distributors.
It’s a shame that while the industry continues to report record-high profits, eight out of ten musicians earn less than £200 a year from their art. Today, we shine the spotlight on artists who dared to stand up for musicians’ rights by going against industrial giants — and winning.
Times Artists Stood up to Industry Giants And Won
Ever the trend-setter, Prince was one of the first major artists to feud with their label. In this case, Prince signed a lucrative $100 million deal with Warner Brothers in 1992 but was stripped of his rights to release music whenever he wanted. He was also asked to hand over his masters. This didn’t sit well with Prince, who wanted to release music more frequently and keep the original rights to his art. Dissatisfied with the deal, the Purple Rain star left the label in 1996 with full ownership over his masters until his passing.
Taylor Swift rattled the music industry when she decided to hold back her (then) newest release from Apple Music. She published an open letter on her Tumblr, emphasizing how artists and their crew don’t get compensated because of streaming services’ marketing gimmicks. She also stressed the importance of creative control and not being pressured into signing a deal. Taylor Swift’s music career has flourished even more since then, and her latest album, Folklore, topped the charts in 2020.
From being a Subway employee to getting signed by Def Jam labels — Frank Ocean’s rise to fame was meteoric. And for good reason, his debut album Chanel Orange was critically acclaimed as one of the best pieces of music in 2012. But right after his mega-release, Frank Ocean disappeared. Rumor had it that Frank wasn’t happy with his contract at Def Jam; he wanted the rights to his music back but was still obligated to one more release under the label.
By 2016, music fans were desperate for an album from the mysterious musician. With Frank’s contract coming to an end and his reluctance to release music that he wouldn’t own, he decided to do the unthinkable. On the last day of his contract, Frank Ocean released a visual album titled Endless, marking the end of his contract at Def Jam. The very next day, Frank independently released Blonde (which went on to become one of the best albums of the decade). Blonde also earned $20 million in sales, whereas Endless, being a visual album, made distribution a pain for Def Jam, leading to much lower revenues.
In 2015, Dr. Dre won his legal battle against Death Row Records regarding unpaid funds earned from his album, “The Chronic.” Judges ruled in favor of the legendary producer, stating that Death Row Records did not have the right to profit off of the digital sales of the 1992 album. Howard King, Dre’s attorney, said in a statement: “We are gratified that the federal court has unambiguously declared that Death Row has no right to engage in such tactics and must hold all proceeds from these illicit distributions in trust for our client.” Dre received 100% of the online profits and continues to enjoy great success with his business endeavors.
How NFTs Can Revolutionize the Music Industry
When the industry formed more than 60 years ago, artists had no choice but to sign to a label. With the promise of financial security, musicians were drawn to a sense of stability in an otherwise unpredictable profession. Since the internet, artists are more comfortable paving their way. But now, instead of labels, they rely on streaming services to distribute their music and accept low pay in return. It’s a vicious cycle, but MOZIK has a solution: NFTs.
By publishing NFTs on MOZIK’s decentralized blockchain platform, artists no longer have to rely on a centralized service to do their bidding. Meaning no more label demands, handing over music rights, or paying middle-men the lion’s share of the profit.
Without gated streaming services, fans can directly contribute to an artist’s success through the open and accessible MOZIK platform. With a new source of income for artists and no third parties involved, artists get fairly compensated for their work. And since NFTs can be published in any form — from concert tickets to videos to music — artists can get creative with what they publish.
The blockchain and NFTs open up a world of possibilities for musicians. Not only do musicians connect with their fans at a more direct level, but they also get access to a market that isn’t hindered by centralized streaming services. At MOZIK, we genuinely believe NFTs can usher in a new era for artists everywhere.