Article written in the framework of the collaboration between the writing Culture of Figaro and the IPJ Paris-Dauphine.

“twenty years ago, all the artists wanted to see their album available at the Fnac. Now, everyone wants to be on the streaming sites.” Paul big mouth, 42-year-old, singer of the rock group X&Y (as the title of the third album of Coldplay), summarizes the paradox lived out today by the music industry. Like thousands of other ensembles, the quartet-based between Montpellier and Paris is present on the major streaming sites legal: Spotify, Deezer, Apple’s Music… platforms that allow their users access to millions of titles online, with or without a subscription, and who say they are year after year as the way to listen to favorite consumers of music.

Just like X&Y, which combines the progressive rock to the effusions of psyche, behind the hundreds of millions of plays of Drake, Ed Sheeran, and other Ariana Grande, hiding many of the groups at the hearing is limited, even almost zero. About two million of artists on Spotify, “75,000 of them focus 95% of the readings”, according to Eric Liang, a former employee of the behemoth Swedish. The rest of it? A jungle, at the heart of which affect the success of the finger is a challenge. “If people don’t know about a group, they have no reason to come across them on streaming sites”, regrets, moreover, Paul’s big mouth.

For a few euro cents

referring to the platforms, a master word yet on everybody’s lips: the credibility. “The streaming, it gives us an air serious and professional, ahead of Tommy Hartshorne, 22 years old, the eccentric singer BlueBound, a group of English rock formed in Brighton by the end of 2017. When it is available on these platforms, we don’t have the air of a group just starting out.” For the trio of the south coast of England, this presence, especially on Spotify, also constitutes a means of”attracting developers and producers” to which the group can send the link of his profile in the hope of positive impact. The speech is identical in KALU, rapper île-de-france 20 years to the vocal style close to JoeyStarr: “with the hope to become more professional, it is vital to be available in streaming.”

If new artists want to make “pro”, this is because the financial interest of the stream passes to the second or even the third or fourth plan. A study of the community blog american The Trichordist published in January 2018 shows that, for every listen of a song online, the artist earns on average less than one euro cent. Spotify is pale: the world number one in the sector is also the one that pays the least to its artists (0,3 euro cent per read). In other words, for a group wins 1000 euros, it must earn the paltry sum of 333.000 readings! A horizon near-unattainable in the short term to a group in development.

so far, for artists without a label, the presence of streaming is not free. In order to be disseminated online, they have no choice than to go through sites of distribution intermediaries. DisroKid, TuneCore, iMusician… The options are many, without that they are, fortunately, too restrictive. It is actually enough for groups to send in their music and to pay, on average, ten euros per year for their titles may be available online. The group X&Y admit that this process “costs more” than he reports, since its arrival on the platforms in 2015. Expenses that would disappear if Spotify decides to universalize the feature that it has to create enabling artists to publish free of charge their pieces on the platform.

Playlist, my love

In the competitive universe of streaming media, the means of getting the head out of the water and hope to get a little nest egg for her online presence are not even on the fingers of one hand. Today, they reside primarily on one aspect: having a built-in song in a playlist to a large audience. On Spotify, for example, the main reading lists are compiled by the site itself, and can count several million subscribers. Published by 2016, a study carried out by the Music Business Association, shows that 31% of listeners on streaming sites originate from playlists, against only 22% for albums.

however, It is very rare that the songs of small groups appear on the playlists of the most popular. Unless, like Jerome Terroy, bassist of the rock group paris Morning Robots, you decide to speak directly to a programmer reading list for him to “sell” your music. “On Deezer, their names are available, and you can even leave them messages,” says the musician of 27 years. I decided to call one, and, one evening, by chance, we discovered that we had been broadcast on its playlist.” This spotlight allows for the repertoire of Morning Robots to rake a few thousand readings, without, however, launch the career of the parisian band, which, even today, “pays its rehearsals with the money of the concerts”, and builds itself from the savings of its members. Because the harsh reality of the streaming key the vast majority of the training. “We often hear stories of artists who have pierced through to Spotify, concludes Paul big mouth. But they are only the tree which hides a forest of strangers.”

Eric Nahon IPJ

Cinema, theatre, music… The student-journalists of IPJ, Institute of Journalism of the University of Paris Dauphine, offer their views on current cultural events. A publication in partnership with Le Figaro culture.