Any artist or songwriter who watched Pandora executives enrich themselves and then wring their hands about artist and songwriter royalties has probably wondered what can I do about it? Anyone who has watched YouTube scam their way into existence hiding behind a “catch me if you can [afford it]” interpretation of the DMCA and then condescend to artists and songwriters has probably wondered how can I stop Google? Particularly after establishing its monopoly power and using it to try to intimidate indie labels? As The Street astutely observed:
Pandora claimed it wanted to create a musician’s middle class. However it has done very little to support those words with actions. If a musician’s middle class exists as a result of Pandora’s efforts, it must be out of sight and out of mind, sweeping floors in the mansions of Pandora’s filthy rich executives. Or maybe they’re doing construction work at Pandora’s expanding offices that now stretch from coast to coast in the nation’s most expensive real estate markets. Not too shabby for a company that claims it can’t afford to do anything other than hawk advertising because of the royalties it must pay content creators.
And the same is true of Spotify, Beats, Google Play and so on. We have seen artists speak out about the absurdly low royalties and what streaming is doing to the rest of the recorded music industry that piracy hasn’t destroyed. Thom Yorke, David Lowery, David Byrne to name a few. But now we welcome an inspiring new face and tactic to the protest movement, Canadian artist Suzana Barbosa.
According to SF Weekly:
The cops were getting lots of calls. Drivers were worried. There was a woman walking down the road — the narrow part of Highway 1, just north of L.A. And she was pushing a baby carriage.
When the cops found her, it turned out she was not a crazy person. She wasn’t even a mother.
She was a musician on a mission.
The woman was Suzana Barbosa, a longtime Toronto singer and leader of the band Lumanova, who had lately become fed up with the state of the music industry. She’d had it with the paltry amounts paid to songwriters and performers by streaming services like Spotify. She’d had it with our culture’s preference for glamorizing starving artists instead of paying them decently.
Barbosa was so fed up with the music business that she decided to walk some 400 miles, from Los Angeles to the Google campus in Mountain View, to publicize what she sees as an existential threat to the world’s independent musicians.
And she did it with no money.
We’re trying to find out more about Suzana’s “#walkmilesformusic” campaign and will report as we do. You can follow her on Twitter @lumnov and with the #walkmilesformusic, her website walkmilesformusic.com. Here’s her YouTube video:
It’s probably sheer coincidence, but Suzana’s protest coincides with the release by the Copyright Board of Canada of its new statutory rates for Pandora. Remember those really low rates that Pandora pays in the US?
The Canadians are now paying less than 10% of those rates for sound recordings thanks to Pandora’s lobbying efforts.
That’s right. $0.000102 per play. And of course the artist’s share is 50%–got your scientific calculators ready?–$0.000051.
If that’s not enough to get marching, I don’t know what is.