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Music Stars Believe Future Lies in Tech But Clash With Streaming Services Over Money

Music Stars Believe Future Lies in Tech But Clash With Streaming Services Over Money
Artists are still feeling the pinch even though music streaming has driven down the costs for consumers.
High-profile singers, while admitting new technology could be key in helping them win, the expressed their frustration at streaming services, record labels and regulators during last week's Web Summit technology conference in Lisbon.
"It's a good thing in that music is being consumed more now than ever before, it's easier to get the music out to the fans. The thing that has to catch up is the licensing laws. They are literally 74 years old which makes no sense because everything about music evolves daily," Grammy award winner Ne-Yo, told CNBC in an interview on Thursday.
"That has me in a negative place really. All songwriters are asking for is a level playing ground, we just want what we are owed."
This is the latest criticism faced by the new state of music where streaming continues to grow rapidly. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), the body that represents the recorded music industry, digital music revenues now overtook sales of physical formats for the first time in 2015.
Of the $6.7 billion made from total digital music sales, streaming revenues account for about 43 percent or $2.9 billion.
But despite the growth, they are not getting paid enough, many artists have complained. Hence a number of high-profile clashes in the music business have happened as a result. Stars have tried to challenge the incumbents  and in 2014, Taylor Swift pulled her albums off of Spotify. And in a bid to create a platform for artists, last year rap mogul Jay Z bought another streaming service called Tidal.
Some stars are realizing the need to embrace new digital platforms even though it's still a tough slog, according to many singers. The downloading culture present in the the 2000s, helped him get big, said Tinie Tempah, an award-winning artist from the U.K.
"I was at a point where I was willing to give my music away for free," Tempah said during a panel discussion at the Web Summit on Thursday.
"Now we're in a streaming era, I don't feel artists are being compensated, but I think it's a good time for an artist who hasn't been developed in the past five years … I think anybody has a shot at becoming a big star … that's a big plus."
If labels had been more innovative, the industry would be in a "better place" as they weren't "excited enough" about streaming when the platforms began popping up, said the "Pass Out" singer.
The growing technology was however hailed as a great opportunity with new areas such as the use of data able to help artists by streaming providers.
"The truth of the matter is we can't go back to the old days … if you look at stats nowadays in terms of growth…it is a massive opportunity for the industry and for the artists as well," Hans-Holger Albrecht, chief executive of streaming service Deezer, said during the panel discussion, adding that the company pays back over 70 percent of its revenues to publishers and labels.
"Streaming services can do much more with artists in terms of access to clients," Albrecht said.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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