It’s the same old story, same old song and dance, my friend
– Same Old Song And Dance by Aerosmith
There has been a lot of media hype about the new Amazon Music service. I get it. I’m a HUGE Amazon fan. I even ditched my premium Slacker account recently for Amazon’s music service included as part of my Prime subscription. I’m not really missing all that much. The ONLY thing I did miss, until now, was the ability to listen on demand. That is what all this big hype is about. Amazon did one little thing that is completely non-revolutionary. They added on demand, the ability to find a song and listen to it at any time, to their options. You no longer have to wait for a “station” to roll that song into your queue.
But that’s just it. It is a big “so what” moment. Lots of music services offer that. In fact it is the staple feature of nearly ALL premium (aka you actually PAY for music, a novel concept) music services. The BIGGER reason this is HUGE news is the PRICE point. Prime members get the service for LESS than what Spotify charges. Prime members can save $3/month, $36/year over the similar Spotify service and have the same “Big Three” catalog you get anywhere else. Woohoo! That IS big news. A race to the bottom and YOU save $3/month for the all-you-can-consume music buffet. You ALMOST saved enough for a cup of over-priced Starbucks coffee (side note: I also love Starbucks, fully realizing I overpay for my coffee every time I go there). Even better is non-Prime Members can get the service for… well… $9.99… the same price as EVERY OTHER SERVICE OUT THERE.
The big news is Amazon has done EXACTLY what all the other music services are already doing.
Amazon will do just fine with their new music thing. They can hide the huge losses in running the service in their ginormous (that’s a technical term) balance sheets. They have a notable advantage in cost reduction while running the service thanks to hosting one of the largest, if not THE largest, technology presence operations on the planet. That means that despite their big bill for licensing the actual stuff they are selling they will appear to be doing just fine with their music offering.
This is NOT OK.
The people that actually MAKE the product they are selling, the music, continue to get screwed. It is not a viable business model to sell music with an “all you can consume” mentality and match that with FIXED FEE pricing. It is a HUGE disservice to those people that make the music happen; the artists,songwriters, composers, and the teams of people that put this stuff together will earn exactly diddly-squat via this model.
Sure, the streaming companies will complain about their huge licensing bill. Amazon will claim they are being fair because they paid “nearly A BILLION DOLLARS” in license fees next year. But you don’t see them selling televisions for $100 no matter how many you buy or what size, paying the manufacturer $99 for it, and they saying “we must have paid them fairly because we paid a BILLION dollars to Sony for those TVs”. That model wouldn’t last long when those TVs cost Sony $500 to produce.
The mentality of corporations and the general public is that music, like most intellectual and artistic property, is “free” to make. You just “come up with it”. There is very little “real cost”. They do it because “it is fun”. Or “they just love making music”. So we feel we shouldn’t have to pay for something people make because they love their job? The fall-back is that they’ve already “made millions”. Samsung made a BILLION DOLLARS selling phones, so we should just be able to walk into any store and just take one. Or Amazon should just pay Samsung what they feel is fair and let Samsung deal with it. That type of thinking is just an excuse to justify not paying fair value for the music. Both on a corporate and personal level.
In the music industry the people that are making the product are getting paid whatever the retail outlets and the product warehouse people think is a fair price. The model DOESN’T WORK. It never has and never will.
Amazon’s new service isn’t revolutionary or new in any way. It is nothing more than the next iteration of a failed model. At a slightly lower price if you buy something else from them. That’s it. Bundle-deal lower-cost pricing.
It feels more-than-ever like music has become nothing more than a loss-leader to sell something else. A Prime Subscription at Amazon. Some ad space for a product or TV show. A Charlie-Harper jingle to sell kid’s cereal.
It is a sad time to be in the music business for artists, songwriters, and composers.
Amazon Seeks To Recapture Music Fans With New Streaming Service