Not everyone agrees with BitTorrent founder Bram Cohen that the Internet has been good for the musician. Indeed, some musicians think the exact reverse. Take, for example, David Lowery, the lead singer for the bands Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker – a Platinum artist who now also teaches “rock economics” at the University of Georgia. According to Lowery, who claims that he has “data” to back up his argument, things are actually worse for the musician now than they were in the good/bad old days of big labels and even bigger limousines.
“It looks like the artist is getting shafted,” Lowery told me when we spoke earlier this week at SFMusicTech. “We were waiting for the extra revenue,” he said, “but it never came.” Lowery, who once believed in the magical economics of the Internet, blames “flle sharing” (ie: piracy) and the poor business model of streaming services like Spotify. Most of all, though, he blames Amazon and Apple who, he says, are taking 30% of gross revenue on Internet music sales, and investing nothing back in artists.
So is there any middle ground between Cohen and Lowery? Can the Internet really support musicians and enable them to earn a viable income? Tomorrow, I’ll run an interview with Jack Conte and Nataly Dawn from the Californian band Pomplamoose who, believe it or not, are actually making a living by putting their music up on YouTube.