Musicians Deny Requests To Allow Their Music To Be Streamed
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
When musical artists are described as influential, it usually means they shape how other artistS create songs. Singer Taylor Swift has now proven her influence over the music business. She wrote an open letter to Apple this past weekend about its streaming music service. Swift complained about Apple's plan to run a three-month trial of the service without paying royalties to artists. After her letter, the company quickly reversed that decision. As NPR's Mandalit del Barco reports, Taylor Swift is not the only artist who objects to the digital direction of the music industry.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL-AMERICAN KID")
GARTH BROOKS: (Singing) All-American comeback kid...
MANDALIT DEL BARCO, BYLINE: If you're so inclined to download a copy of country singer Garth Brooks' latest album, "Man Against The Machine," you have to go to his personal website, GhostTunes, and pay 12.99 for the entire album. You won't find Garth Brooks posting his solo albums on iTunes or Amazon or Spotify or YouTube or any other on-demand digital music service. He talked about this on TV's "Access Hollywood Live" last year.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD LIVE")
BROOKS: If iTunes is going to tell you how to sell your stuff and it's only going to go this way, don't forget who's creating the music and who should be doing the stuff. And I'm telling you, the devil - nice people. YouTube - oh, my gosh.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BODYSNATCHERS")
RADIOHEAD: (Singing) It is the 21st century.
DEL BARCO: Radiohead has pulled many of their records from Spotify, including the solo album by Thom Yorke. In an interview with the Mexican website Sopitas Musica, he talked about how major record labels are reselling their old catalogs of music to the streaming service.
(SOUNDBITE OF SOPITAS MUSICA INTERVIEW)
THOM YORKE: To me, it's sort of like the whole thing is such a massive battle because it's about the future of all music. It's about whether we believe that there is a future in music.
STEVE KNOPPER: Artists have a reason to be suspicious of the streaming companies and the streaming model 'cause they're not getting big royalty checks like they used to.
DEL BARCO: Steve Knopper is a contributing editor to Rolling Stone. He says the fault lies with the major record labels that make deals with the streaming services.
KNOPPER: And they should probably take it up with their label if they don't like the way they're being treated. You know, a lot of them just sign their life away in these contracts with the labels so they can get to be big artists in the first place.
DEL BARCO: Besides the money, creative control is also an issue for some artists.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LET IT BE")
THE BEATLES: (Singing) Speaking words of wisdom - let it be. Let it be. Let it be.
DEL BARCO: It took years for The Beatles to release their music on CD and, later, on iTunes. You still cannot stream their music. And if streaming is the future, guitarist and composer Marc Ribot doesn't want any part. He argues that jazz, classical, folk, experimental and a lot of indie music is in jeopardy. He even wrote an anthem for artists who feel used by how people get their music off the Internet.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MASTERS OF THE INTERNET")
MARC RIBOT: (Singing) Download this music for free. We like it when you do. We have no rights or names. We serve the masters of the internet - the masters of the internet.
DEL BARCO: Mandalit del Barco, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.