The last two weeks have been news heavy. The nominations in Jazz categories between the MOBOs and Grammys are at wildly opposite ends of the Jazz spectrum, representing just how far the UK have adapted the “American tradition” in their own way, whilst a remake of Jazz 625 on BBC Four has set a milestone for British Jazz musicians - reminding us that momentum is finite. If you paid close attention, you will have heard sneak previews of Sons Of Kemet and Theon Cross’ 2021 releases.
This week, the Committee for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport published a statement about their Economics of Music Streaming inquiry. If you didn’t know, MPs are examining what economic impact music streaming is having on artists, record labels and the sustainability of the music industry at large.
There’s however, a spanner in the works - one that we can all empathise with. MPs have discovered that potential witnesses (ie musicians) are reluctant to go on record in case streaming giants take action against them.
The Committee’s statement comes at a sobering time, as Spotify’s highest earners have been announced; 26-year-old Bad Bunny received more than 8.3 billion streams. Let’s put that into context:
The minimum national monthly wage in the UK is just over £1400. For an artist to earn that that from Amazon - who pay the highest fee per stream at 0.009p - they’d need 156,222 streams. On Spotify, who pay 0.0028 per stream - a third less than Amazon - an artist would need more than half a million streams a month to hit minimum wage.* By those sums, based on Spotify alone, Bad Bunny earned a streaming revenue equalling an estimated twenty-three million pounds. Unless you ARE Bad Bunny, it’s fair to say that:
Julian Knight MP, who chairs the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, received evidence last week from Ed O’Brien (Radiohead), Guy Garvey (Elbow) and Tom Gray (Gomez). These are three, white male artists with significant careers. Their actions are courageous - but of all the musicians in the UK, they are three of the few who can afford to put their asses in the firing line. They’re not at fragile stages in their career, nor are they focused on receiving stream income to afford their food shopping.
As far as the Jazz world is concerned, its loyalties may be fairly confused. Love them or loathe them, streaming algorithms and playlists have played a huge part in getting modern Jazz in front of new audiences. Spotify’s Late Night Jazz playlist for example, which includes Alfa Mist, Norwich trio Mammal Hands and Denmark’s Athletic Progression, has almost two million followers. Nubiyan Twist feature in much coveted playlist New Music Friday alongside Miley Cyrus. It’s unavoidable - as much as it is uncomfortable - to admit that streaming has had a huge impact on the visibility and rise of modern Jazz, British and otherwise.
Artist and manager Carlotta Adams has mixed feelings. “Spotify has definitely allowed for Jazz in all its forms to be heard by non-traditional Jazz listeners. I know that it's been great in terms of discovering a scene, specifically with the UK Jazz and State of Jazz playlists”. There’s work to be done though. Carlotta explains what she’d like to see for artists, going forward: “It would be great for percentages of earnings to be distributed equally to artists, regardless of their affiliation with major labels or labels in general. It would be nice if each person's subscription money could actually be divided between the artists they listen to and not across the whole catalogue”.
Meanwhile, it feels like a great time to remind you that Bandcamp Friday is tomorrow. Bandcamp will again be waiving their fees, meaning that your money goes straight to the artists and labels.
So, the question is, once the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee complete their investigation, will the streaming giants listen up?
Join me tomorrow at 3PM GMT where I’ll be hosting a thread here on Substack asking you, how can streaming platforms be better for artists?
Thanks Somewhere Soul for the figures.
Jobs & Opportunities in Jazz and beyond
Good eggs, the Association of Independent Music (AIM), would like a cracking Community Support Manager.
The recently renamed Bristol Beacon venue are on the look out for a Development Manager.
First Artists Management represent Oscar winning composers - they want to award someone the role of Agent’s Assistant for their London office.
Based in my old ends Harrow, Name PR are looking for a Press Assistant with 6+ months experience.
BMG would like a Growth Manager for their Hoxton office.
Hey, Leeds-based music creators, sound artists and collectives; Music: Leeds and Abbey House Museum would like to commission you for a cool project.
Another one t’up North and this one wants big thinkers; BPH and Bradford Council are seeking a Music Instigator to expand opportunities for Bradford’s music scene.
The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra require a Head of Artistic Planning. Be quick! Applications close tomorrow.
Album of the Week \\ Godtet - Godtet III
The urge to fly to Australia gets stronger with every release I hear coming out of Melbourne. This time it’s guitarist and producer Godtet that’s got me tempted. Godtet III, with its ethereal and other-worldly soundscape, completes a triptych of albums. On Doof, Godtet brings reggae rhythms into a dreamy sound-space, whilst single Cactus Dance provokes the feeling of moving slowly, but not without epic results - like a caterpillar on a sun-soaked mountain. Godtet III is released tomorrow via La Sape.
News and Notable
We Out Here have announced their first wave of confirmed artists for 2021. Delighted to say, I’ll be there!
Women In Jazz are launching a newsletter, too! Look out for it in the new year.
Yazz Ahmed, Renell Shaw and Julian Joseph are among the winners of the Ivors Composer Award.
Read about how Strictly Come Dancing dropped a band when they asked to be paid. What is this life.
Nubya Garcia’s Source has been ranked No.8 in NPR’s Best Albums of 2020.
Speaking of Best Albums of 2020, you can watch back selections made by me, Tina Edwards, and guests here.
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