Did UMG’s CEO just call DistroKid, CD Baby & TuneCore Garbage Merchants?
While not calling anyone out by name, UMG CEO Lucien Grainge said anyone involved in music who is struggling to find an audience is a “merchant of garbage” during this week’s Q3 2023 earnings call.
His blunt words came as part of his push for artist-centric royalties, which have already been adopted by Deezer and which Spotify appears close to embracing in some form.
Putting music by new artists that have “no engagement with fans” in the same category as “vacuum-cleaner sounds or rain on a pane of glass,” Grainge argued that “those groups who have expressed a concern about artist-centric are those whose business model is based on being merchants of garbage.”
Who distributes most of the struggling artists likely to follow under the payment thresholds that Grainge advocates? TuneCore (owned by Believe), CD Baby (owned by Downtown), and independent DistroKid, who, on their own, claim to distribute 30% to 40% of all content uploaded to services like Spotify.
“Sorry, I can’t really think of another word for content that no one really wants to listen to,” continued Grainge. “So if you’re committing fraud or flooding the platform with content that has absolutely no engagement with fans, doesn’t help churn, doesn’t merchandise great music and professional artists, then I suppose you’re not going to be in favor of artist-centric, and it’s an opportunity for us to call them out,” he added.