The pandemic will accentuate the gap between artists

Opinion

Published August 20, 2020, 12:00 am CDT

For a long time, I searched for famous philosophers who have stated that "success leads to success", or something similar. Surprisingly, I did not find any text with such a statement. If you investigate success, you mainly find inspiring quotes such as success is the son of boldness, that success is not accidental, that it is the fruit of persistence, that nothing is impossible and that success doesn’t make happiness anyway.

All of that is probably true. However, it is not difficult to recognize that it should be easier for famous artists to make their music known than for less famous artists.

In other words, "success leads to success".

Maybe this expression is not inspirational enough to become famous. Or maybe it wouldn’t come from philosophers, but from marketers. It is then that I saw the following remark by Wendy Piersall:

"Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first".

 

And that is the reality, it is not only how Google works, but also how all social networks work. Beyond that, it is also how our society works: success and fame are not linear and have multiplying properties. If you are a famous musician, social media makes you even more famous and your music becomes even more known. And all that media noise from celebrities hides those who are not. On my Facebook timeline there are regularly at least 10 posts about Elon Musk. And yes, he is quite an admirable man, but not enough to fill 50% of my Facebook timeline… I even saw about 20 articles about the strange name of his new son once on the same day. Sure, there are always new people in the closed circles of fame. But those new ones are clearly numbered.

Shares of Concert Ticket Revenue - Source: Krueger (2005)

 

As in many other subjects, when it comes to musical art, recognition generally results in the level of economic income. And from that income, survival and continuity.

So the importance of fame or, in other words, visibility.

And music streaming platforms surely work with the same accentuation algorithms of fame as all artificial intelligence or "pseudo-intelligence" based tools.

You live in Mexico? Ah, so we recommend The Weeknd, Dua Lipa, Lady Gaga and Reguetón (particularly Bad Bunny and his no-better-friend J Balvin).


The power of democracy under the rules of artificial pseudo-intelligence...

 

Spotify Top50 (Mexico)

 

So, excluding the mechanisms of paid visibility (when for example an artist agrees with Spotify to show it in priority) - which will be interesting to study (we will try to make it the subject of one of our next articles) - these platforms make famous artists even more famous and the others remain hidden, sharing a minimum part of streams (in other words, financial distribution) of those platforms.

 

Without surprise, an article from The Verge magazine announced since 2015 that streaming was accentuating the income disparity between artists and took the example of Drake with his album “If You're Reading This It's Too Late”, estimating an income of $ 6.45 million dollars,  comparing this amount with the estimated $ 126,000 dollars of Beach House (which was that same year in the Top 10 of Billboard). In other words, 2% of what Drake obtained. We can already imagine that, for the thousands of less prominent artists, streaming is not a source of sustainable income.

It is known that many musical artists derive most of their income from concerts.

But, what happens now with the pandemic, when all large groups of people are banned?
 

Under these circumstances, what is the livelihood method of artists and mainly independent artists?

Some will say that the bands are turning to online concerts and it's true.

But, isn't it that online concerts have the same problem of accentuating fame?
 

Globally, a parallel can be attempted with the video game industry for mobile devices. In the beginning, there was very little publicity from the makers of mobile video games. But, little by little the industry grew and the cost of advertising began to rise. To such an extent that the installation cost (CPI) of a free game is now considered to be around $ 2.37 in the US for iOS. This means that for a US resident to install a free game, it will cost the creator of the video game $ 2.37.

Clearly, the virtual advertising market is not unlimited and can be equally saturated, without counting the large number of very famous artists who started offering their concerts online for free.

 

While the intention is good, such actions risk further overshadowing the multitude of independent artists who may truly need urgent financial income.

Could it be that musical plurality will be even more strongly affected by this tragic year 2020?

 

We appreciate your comments!

 

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