What to expect in 2022: Blake Morgan shares his music industry predictions
Blake Morgan, a leading advocate for musicians and a talented creator in his own right, offers a unqiue perspective as he looks forward to 2022.
By musician, producer and artist advocate Blake Morgan
As Yogi Berra said, “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” Nevertheless, I believe there are some things we can count on for 2022. Here are a few of them.
THE DEATH OF “CONTENT,” “PIPELINES,” and “USERS.”
Relics of yester-think, these terms have clearly had their day. Overwhelmingly scoffed at by music makers, the tipping point has been reached for the words “content,” “pipeline,” and “user,” each of which should be banished from any sentence containing the word “music.” After all, euphemisms should be called what they are, as the great Bobby Gentry once explained: “Euphemism is a euphemism for lying.”
- “Content” means art.
- “Pipeline” means middle-men.
- “User” means listener.
So this sentence: “Make more content and get it into the pipeline so it reaches more users.”
Should actually read: “Make art and release it to your listeners.”
Words matter, as any songwriter knows. It’s good to use ones that mean something.
SPOTIFY WILL CONTINUE TO LOSE THE MORAL HIGH GROUND (AND MARKET SHARE)
Not sure who thinks Spotify ever had a claim to any moral high ground, but it’s clear that music makers and music lovers alike are increasingly rejecting the company’s gaslighting narrative of: “we’ve saved the music industry.” The result is a narrowing of Spotify’s dominance in the streaming landscape, as it loses ground to Apple Music, Amazon, and Deezer. Why?
Reason #1: Laypeople now understand that the company’s founder and CEO, Daniel Ek, is a former music pirate who made his initial fortune from illegally exploiting musicians’ work (which is called “stealing”).
Reason #2: Now that he’s worth billions of dollars, Ek is investing in Artificial Intelligence-based military technology so he can help kill people with the same efficiency he’s killed the livelihoods of middle-class musicians. (This is not going over well with music lovers who were already irked at his tech-bro desire to buy a football team.) Even his investors seem filled with a sense of “yuck,” as Spotify’s stock has plummeted since Ek’s James-Bond-villain investment in military tech.
Reason #3: It takes roughly 400,000 streams a month on Spotify for an artist to earn minimum wage. Meanwhile, the average Spotify employee earns $14,000 a month. What’s more, Spotify is actively lobbying to lower their micro-penny payments even further to songwriters, artists, and rights-holders. Lots of times we can’t tell right from wrong but lots of times we can. This is simply wrong, and music lovers are joining music makers in demanding systemic economic reform at Spotify.
GROWING GRASS-ROOTS SUPPORT FOR THE AMERICAN MUSIC FAIRNESS ACT
Remember hope? Well we have some: Following years of grass-roots organizing and growing political will, a bipartisan group in Congress has introduced the American Music Fairness Act. This bill–– which now has almost 30 Congressional co-sponsors as of this writing and is supported by both Republicans and Democrats even in this polarized political environment––would close the loophole that’s allowed terrestrial radio broadcasters to go nearly a century without paying artists. No single stroke of a pen could affect a larger number of middle-class American musicians.
What’s more, the bill’s passage would bring billions of dollars back into the U.S. economy: because we’re not paying international artists for radio airplay here in the United States, other democratic countries are now not paying American artists in their countries. The bill would end this de-facto embargo. You can join the growing momentum behind this ground-breaking piece of legislation by visiting IRespectMusic.org and signing the petition to Congress!
MUSIC MAKERS WILL LIGHT THE WAY FORWARD THROUGH DARK TIMES
Some of our greatest art––which has lit our imaginations and illuminated our humanity––has been made during our darkest hours. Our path forward through despair, isolation, fear, and exhaustion has so often been blazed by our greatest artistic achievements. We musicians will do so again.
We won’t give out, we won’t give in, we won’t give up. We’ll roll up our sleeves instead of wring our hands, and we’ll raise our voices together: politically, artistically, courageously.
We’ll light the way forward. And when we collectively emerge from the shadows we currently find ourselves in, we’ll stand in the sunshine of a new era. You can count on it.