Which platform do you use to release your original work? Beatport? Spotify? Streaming services and digital stores have brought an awesome amount of exposure to emerging artists in the past. But we’re beginning to see a change in the effectiveness of this strategy for the next generation of undiscovered artists. Releasing your music on Spotify is actually a topic that’s under some pretty serious scrutiny at the time of writing. Learn more about DJing in the age of streaming.

Spray and pray

More people are using streaming services now than ever. But the royalty payment rates are still ridiculously low. Some estimates claim that up to 2.4 million streams is what it takes to earn a minimum wage. Artists distributing their original work to Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube and Google Play need to be more aware of the implications of their agreement when they go to the trouble of uploading, rather than simply adopting a ‘spray-and-pray’ approach.

Music Modernization Act

In September 2018, the Music Modernization Act was passed into US law. This bill will have a pretty big impact for copyright holders. It’s main aim is to overhaul royalty payment statutes that were written into law as early as 1909! In short, the music industry has long had a problem: much of the royalty revenue has remained unclaimed by the artists and distributed inefficiently by a long chain of insiders and intermediaries. Another of the proposed outcomes of the bill is to adapt the old-fashioned royalty collection measures for the modern age - namely, the age of streaming. We’re hoping that the new law will be able to fix it and pay artists more fairly in future.

Credit for producers

Even if you don’t create your own original work, this is relevant to you. Being any kind of successful DJ these days requires some kind of production work. Some creativity. According to the Music Modernization Act, credit will being assigned to producers as well as other types of talent. This is a historical first. If you’re a DJ looking to level up, one fast way to do it is to start studying DJ and production techniques that the pros use. Embedding your own work into a mix is a great way to kickstart your career. Placing your own original productions alongside charting singles is the oldest trick in the book for bootstrapping your own exposure.

So get writing. The future looks brighter for copyright holders than it has in decades. The legislation overhaul and emerging music streaming services powered by blockchain seek to augment the effort to empower artists. Tomorrow’s world looks even more musical than yesterday’s.

John Bartmann is a music producer and DJ.