Understanding The Music Supply Chain
This article is a part of my Best Reads of the Month section on my website www.mikegorlon.com. Each month I pick one or two articles or blog posts that I find on the internet which I thought were really insightful, interesting or moving. Then I share them with you. You can view the previous month’s articles by going to: https://www.mikegorlon.com/best-reads-of-the-month
Best Read of the Month for September 2021
Article: Understanding the Music Supply Chain
My Summary: How Are Royalties Distributed In The Music Industry?
Have you ever wondered how artists make money off of their music? What about the process from when a song gets created all the way to being played on the radio or your favorite streaming platform? This article answers these questions and it’s actually a lot more complicated than it seems.
One of the reasons why it is so complicated is because of the number of parties involved in making a song and an album. There are the labels, artists, songwriters, producers, musicians, publishers, distributors, managers, agents and lawyers. Then there are also the parties who allow the music to be listened to like the streaming platforms, digital stores and radio stations.
Each one of these parties involved needs to get compensated for their work. The author, Sleepwell, does a really good job of explaining how the whole process works by using some hypothetical examples based on his experience in the music industry.
The most interesting part that I learned from this article was that when an artist signs a contract with a record label, all of their songs created during the contract term are owned by the record label, even if the artist doesn’t resign with their record label after the contract is over.
I have seen a lot criticism from the music artists toward this setup, especially from Kanye West at the end of 2020 and Taylor Swift in 2019. It makes a lot of sense why the artists would want to own their own music.
And with a lot of changes occurring in the music industry, like technology making it much easier to create and distribute music than in the past, it could be possible one day that they will be able to own their old masters without having to shell out tens of millions of dollars decades later.