Category Archives: “Rob Roper”

How the Streaming Revolution Impacts Music Creators

When my generation was young, we might live in a shitty apartment, with crappy furniture (or no furniture), and an empty refrigerator (except for beer) with payday still 2 days away. BUT… we had a kickass stereo! Same for our cars– our cars might be a total piece of shit, worth $400 at most, but we’d have a $1000 stereo in it. We had our priorities straight. Rock on!

Today’s generation of young people might live in shitty apartment, with crappy (or no) furniture, and empty refrigerator, and be late on their rent payment. BUT… they have a brand new $650 Android or iPhone, with a $100 a month cellphone service so they can listen to music and movies on their phone. They’ve got their priorities straight. Rock on!

This new way of listening to music is called streaming, because the music is streamed from a company such as Spotify, Apple or Google through a cellphone provider such as Sprint, Verizon or ATT. (Of course, you can also stream music to a desktop or laptop computer, or a tablet.)

Streaming is different from downloading music. With downloading, you pay for the song (or album), and download it to your computer or phone, it stays there, and you own it. With streaming, you don’t buy the song, it doesn’t stay on your computer or phone, and you don’t own it. That’s ok for streaming enthusiasts; they don’t care about owning the song, as long as they can hear it whenever they want.

But I don’t need to tell you about the benefits of streaming from the music consumer point of view. Instead, I want to talk about how the streaming revolution affects the artists who create and perform the music, and those who pay to have the music recorded and promoted (which, for independent artists, is the artists themselves). Do the music creators get the same amount of revenue from streamed music as they get from paid downloads or CD sales?

I’ll use my own streaming revenue as an example. It’s no different than other artists, regardless of how big or small. I use CDBaby to distribute my CDs as well as for my digital distribution. I checked my CDBaby internal sales page recently, and this is what I saw:

streaming_payments

If I click on details in the right column, then I get the precise payment, down to a fraction of a penny. My most recent sales were all by Spotify, but here’s a few examples of recent payments, by various streaming companies:

streaming_company_payments

As you can see, the amounts vary significantly, but most of the payments for streaming one of my songs are a fraction of a penny!

Let’s do the math here: if we take a typical Spotify sale of $ .0020, it would take 24,500 streaming sales just to cover the CDBaby distribution charge of $49. And that’s not counting the recording costs. My most recent CD, the Total Flower Chaos CD, cost about $8000 to make (which is fairly low cost CD.) At .002 a stream, I would need 4 million streams just to break even!

Now, here’s what a download sale looks like on my CDBaby internal page:

download_payment

And here’s what a physical CD sale looks like on my CDBaby page:

phy_cd_payment

As you can see, I get about 300 times as that much for a download sale, and about 3000 times as much for a CD sale, than I get for a streaming sale.

So you can see that we have a problem here. If the trend continues, and everyone were to listen to music purely by streaming, then it will be impossible for music creators to ever cover the costs of recording their music, much less make a living at it. And if we can’t afford to record our music, then it won’t matter how convenient the streaming technology is for music listeners– there won’t be any new music to listen to.

Now of course, some people still buy CDs. I do. I personally don’t like earphones or headphones, and I enjoy the higher fidelity of listening to CDs on my kickass home stereo. But CD sales have declined by half from their peak 10 years ago. The trend is obvious.

So what can be done? I am not in favor of fighting new technology that makes listening to music more convenient for some music lovers. Instead, I say, let’s make it work for those who create the music and pay the recording, distribution and promotion expenses.

Let’s pause here to dispel the myth that music is “free” when you stream it. To stream music on your phone, you’ll need a cellphone plan that has enough “data.” For example, Verizon recommends their 12GB plan for “heavy music streamers.” That costs $80 a month plus taxes and fees. You can also spend more for more data– up to $110 a month not including taxes and fees. If you only used a cellphone for text and phone calls– like I do– you could get by with my plan from Consumer Cellular for $22.50 a month.

So streaming music isn’t really “free”, is it? You’re basically paying about $60 a month to stream music. But that $60 isn’t going to the artists. It’s the middlemen– the streaming companies and cellphone companies– that are getting all the money.

Let’s make the streaming revolution work for both the music listeners AND the music creators.

The problem is that there are laws that specify the minimum amount songwriters and music publishers must be paid for every physical recording sold, such as a vinyl record, cassette or CD. But these laws were written long before streaming– in 1909. To correct the problem, the Songwriter Equity Act has been introduced into Congress, to update the act for the modern age. Read about it here– and please contact your Congresspersonality:

http://www.ascap.com/about/legislation/songwriter-equity-act

The folks at the radio show “Art of the Song” are tackling the issue in a different way– they have started their own streaming service called the Standing O Project, where they pay artists half of all the streaming revenue! They call it “socially responsible streaming” or “fair trade streaming.” I have joined this project and encourage you to do the same. Check out this video to see how it works:

If you want to join, and help support my music, you can go here:

https://www.standingoproject.com/artist/rob-roper

Now, when you plug your $650 Android into your Piece-of-Shit $400 car with the kickass stereo system with a subwoofer, you’ll not only discover new music, but you’ll be helping musical artists cover our expenses. Rock on!

-Rob Roper, October 5, 2016

Leave a Comment

Filed under "Rob Roper", independent music, music business, Streaming

What Are We Losing? (new song)

This is a song I wrote about what’s been going on in my neighborhood in south Denver the past couple of years. Developers are buying up the old one-story houses, tearing them down, scraping the lot, and building big, ugly 3-story triplexes with 5 bedrooms, 4 baths, and 3 living rooms.

The demo has some guitar mistakes in the solos but I put it up anyway. I banged this out pretty fast.

The Neighborhood (What Are We Losing?)
by Rob Roper 2nd Draft May 30, 2014

A small house is sold
A small house is torn down
What the hell’s going on
on my side of town?

Blue collar out
Suit and tie in
The swingset is gone
and so are the grandkids

This house was built
in 1953
when 1000 square feet
was all you’d need

They were paying rent
for all these years
Now they have 30 days
to pack up and leave

Chorus:
What are we losing?
We’re losing the neighborhood.

A big ugly box
goes up in its place
4000 square feet
multiplied by 3

That takes a lot to heat
and a lot of A/C
So you burn more coal
put a bigger hole in the ozone

A 3-car garage
where’s the oak tree?
How much room
does a lawyer need?

Soon the robins
will have nowhere to nest
And a gang of pigeons
will be all that’s left

(Chorus)

Builders on the make
Politicians on the take
history and memories
raped and scraped

They only care about money
and making it fast
Historic Preservation
that’s a thing of the past

(Chorus)

Leave a Comment

Filed under "Rob Roper", new song, politics, songwriting, songwriting blog

A MADDman’s Dream (Poem)

The current Chairman of the Board of Directors of Mothers Against Drunk Driving is not a mother, or even a woman, but a man named William Windsor.

“The founding president of MADD, Candy Lightner, left in disgust from the organization that she herself created because of its change in goals. ‘It has become far more neo-prohibitionist than I ever wanted or envisioned,’ she says. ‘I didn’t start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving.’… Mothers Against Drunk Driving has clearly become not simply anti-drunk driving or even anti-impaired driving, but anti-alcohol.”

From the website Mothers Against Drunk Driving: A Crash Course in MADD by David J. Hanson, Ph.D.

A Maddman’s Dream
by Rob Roper   July 31, 2014

With your mercenary army
of lawyers and judges
cops and clerks
parole officers and counselors
politicians and breathalyzer companies
The enemy has been conquered
The nations put in their place
The ruins at your feet

A religious state
sober drones hard at work
The jails are full, the bars are empty
The brewmaster and winemaker’s craft a lost art
the restaurants serve diet soda
The Devil’s juice replaced by cancer juice

You push people off the grid
productive workers now criminals
the creative class driven underground
Logic and Reason nowhere in sight
the Policeman’s word is Law
a fascist nightmare

You show pictures of little Suzie
killed by a drunk driver
but according to your own statistics
75% of all accidents are caused by sober drivers
But you don’t care about their victims
do you?

And what about your victims?
Breadwinners thrown in jail
Fired from their jobs
Shamed and disgraced
Lives destroyed
Suicides
Shattered Families
What about all those little Suzies
whose moms and dads got DUIs
went to jail
lost their jobs
and committed suicide?
Hypocrites!

You lowered the BAC limit
from .12 to .10 to .08
and now .05 in Colorado
Two drinks and you’re a criminal.

DUI roadblocks
Unreasonable searches and seizures
Civil liberties crushed
under the MADDman’s boot.

Arresting people for sleeping in their cars rather than drive drunk!
or waiting for a cab!
riding a bike!
for doing the right thing!
Obviously this isn’t about public safety, is it?
This is about money
money for the DUI Industry
and for your neo-prohibitionist political agenda:
bringing back prohibition
one step at a time.

Heart disease kills more Americans than any other cause of death.
Studies show that moderate wine consumption
drastically reduces the chances of heart disease.
But you want to jail me for having two glasses of wine with dinner.

You raise the drinking age from 18 to 21
Old enough to vote
Old enough to be tried as a adult for a crime
Old enough to join the army
You can get your legs blown off in Iraq or Afghanistan
but you can’t have a beer
Brother soldier!  Sister soldier!
You should be fighting the Taliban at home!

First they came for the drunk drivers
and I did nothing
because I don’t drive drunk.
Then they came for the 18-to-20 year-olds
and I did nothing
because I was over 21.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left to defend me.

The world is not a better place.

Leave a Comment

Filed under "Rob Roper", Alcohol, DUI, DWI, MADD, Neo-Prohibitionists, poem, poems, poetry, politics, Prohibition

Disconnected (new song)

Disconnected
© Rob Roper  2014

I went for a walk
just to sort things out
but the trees weren’t talking
and the robins wouldn’t sing
Feeling disconnected
memories washed away
There’s nothing left here
I got no reason to stay.

They say dreams are for fools
so pour me a dream
There’s a strange feeling
crawling up my skin
Like a lake in a desert
I’m probably chasing a mirage
But I won’t let them put a ceiling
A ceiling on my thoughts.

Walking the edge between
destitute and free
Let the consequences
be what they be

Get in the basket
cut the rope on the balloon
and I’ll meet you on
meet you on
the southside of the moon.

Leave a Comment

Filed under "Rob Roper", Disconnected, songwriting

DNA (poem)


by Rob Roper  July, 2014

Maybe
it was just a test
to see how much I could take
before I would break

Released from my stay
because of DNA
now I’m free
out the door

a creature of routine
no more.

Leave a Comment

Filed under "Rob Roper", DNA, poem, poetry