Submitted by Peter Åstedt
Artists are Cattle! I guess that would Alfred Hitchcock would say around today’s music industry. He once said that actors are cattle. Or what he really said was – Fundamentally, actors are a race apart. This group is divided into two sections: first, those who have talent and have never received any recognition for it, and, second, those who have received recognition without having any talent. Either way, they’re cattle.
When asked if he ever said that actors are cattle he replied, I never said all actors are cattle; what I said was all actors should be treated like cattle.
The problem I have today is that the music industry is really treating the artist like cattle. No, I’m talking about the evil record labels, publishers, or agents whatever has been up to artists to call the players in the music industry. Whatever you have to say about the music industry in the past they still cared about artists. Not all of them and of course there were disputes. I’m talking about the new music industry that has emerged in the past ten years. The digital music industry.
Almost all new music companies that have been developed in the new digital era are shaped in the same way. It’s mass consumption. Not mass consumption for the audience, no mass consumption or artist registration on their services. To be able to do this mass consumption of their services they treat all artists equally. Equal as cattle. The services don’t have few or no ways to express your music in different ways, everything is streamlined like every artist need is the same.
And they don’t care about a single artist. They care that they get as many on board as possible to sell the data or sell simple services that are streamlined to mass consumption by artists and never reach the fans. Since you can’t design anything yourself the chances to be seen is minimal and the audience is just going for whatever they already know, don’t find anything new.
Let’s take a simple example, Spotify. Every artist page is built up in the same way on the site. There is no opportunity to do something different and you are in the hands that if Spotify changes its appearance, you are just to follow along. There is no way you can negotiate your terms it’s their way or no way. Everybody has the same crappy way to send your music to the decision-makers for the playlists. If there are any decision-makers, seems more like all of these are replaced by even more streamlined algorithms. In the end, if you are a jazz band from Istanbul you have the same things as a metal band from Detroit. Both probably have different needs to promote their music but are stuck with a system that is not good for any of them. Everything is shaped into boxes determined by the AI digital factory. In fact, you are just one cattle in the herd.
And this is my problem. All new music companies are made in this way. They are made for all musicians to use in the same way. None of them cares about any of their members and with that can’t really help a certain artist. Whatever help they can do it will be equal to all, which comes down to being nothing for all. At least the evil record labels in the past took some notice of you if your career suddenly started to move, even how cynical they cared. Here they really don’t give a second glans even if you are number one. The worst part is that all of them just calculate that the musicians should just fill their value with content and expect to not pay for it. Even worse not get paid for it and do not even get access to the people that really like their music. No, the data are still in their hands not given back.
There is more money than ever in the music industry but none of the companies care about their product. Yes, the artist is treated like cattle.
Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. In 2021, he worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes futureechoes.se/. Peter is a Managing Partner and Editor of the newly launched Record World International.