We’re All In This Together is the rallying cry and that has never been truer than it is today. From big bands to thrash bands and everyone in between, every career musician all over the world is feeling the repercussions of the Covid-19 / Coronavirus pandemic.
Unfortunately, while we may all be in the same boat, not everybody has the same size boat. Independent artists are taking the hardest hits and two music services, Qobuz and Royalty Exchange are stepping up to help the indies as much as they can.
Before you can understand how they’re helping, first you need to understand who they are and what they do.
Pronounced ‘Co-Buzz,’ is a music streaming and downloading service that addresses the needs of curious and discerning music lovers across the globe. Live in eleven European markets as well as the USA, Qobuz offers an exceptional range of music genres as well as exclusive editorial content independently curated by a team of experts. Qobuz offers subscriptions to streaming services with genuine CD quality audio of more than 50-million tracks and millions of Hi-Res tracks up to 24-bit/192 kHz resolution from all genres.
Royalty Exchange, simply put, is an auction platform that allows music creators/artists to sell a portion of their royalties for a lump sum. In essence, it’s an online marketplace where intellectual property is bought and sold like any other asset.
One built for music fans, one built for musicians themselves but what are they doing to help the artists?
Qobuz has launched their own “Gimme Shelter” initiative where through April 26th, they are taking no commission out of music downloads on the site – so ALL the money goes directly to artists. Way more revenue from a download actually gets to artists than it would from streaming, and they’re cutting it down even further now.
“We’re a small company but want to do as much as we can for the artists who make a service like ours possible,” says Dan Mackta, Managing Director of Qobuz USA. “We will keep coming up with more ways to help creators and music fans.”
Royalty Exchange has stepped up as well, reducing commissions from the sales on their site. Now through June 30th Royalty Exchange has dropped their commission rate from 15% to 10% in order to directly benefit artists who sell on their platform. As touring isn’t an option right now or quite possibly the foreseeable future, selling some of their royalties can be a real lifeline for artists and that extra percentage can go a long way.
“Government stimulus and industry charity funds are admirable steps, but they’re new channels of income. That means it will take time to apply for funds and time for those funds to be granted. It’s a confusing new process artists are unfamiliar with. This will create delays and confusion, so why not use the channels already established to send artists their money?” offers Matt Smith, CEO of Royalty Exchange.”
Additionally, Royalty Exchange is calling on the entire music industry to help artists right now by: (1) cutting the time it takes to pay artists in half, and (2) lowering revenue shares to be more artist-beneficial at this time. They have also launched a petition on Change.org to prod the music industry to follow their lead.
“We’re suggesting companies push money that artists are owed anyway into these established channels faster, and to increase the amount they’d normally push through for the next 90 days. Now’s the time for any company serving artists to prove that they’re putting artists first. You can’t ask the artists you serve to sacrifice before you sacrifice yourself. It can’t be business as usual for you, when it’s not business as usual for them.”
Looking forward into the future, Smith understands the repercussions Royalty Exchange will feel from this endeavor. Absorbing a 30% hit won’t be easy, but he feels it’s the right thing to do for the songwriters, performing artists and producers who truly feed their families on the backs on their creations.
“Lowering our commissions from 15% to 10% means our revenues will fall by 30% for the next three months. That’s not insignificant for a company our size, but it’s bearable in the short term. Yet passing that difference directly to artists will make a much longer-term impact on their ability to survive during this crisis.”
Will his petition work? Who knows. Petitions seldom get their desired results, but they do get their message heard and shine a spotlight on the result. Will the rest of the music world hear the plea and extend a hand to the artists who make their money for them or will they turn a blind eye to the very ones they promised a partnership? Only time will tell, but it’s obvious Smith is not alone in his thoughts as the petition garnered nearly 2,000 signatures in just one week.
“The petition is not only for artists to encourage the companies who serve them to take action, but also for companies themselves to pledge their willingness to do so and encourage others to do the same.”
Sign the petition right here.