We recently told you about how Norwegian metal giant Indie Recordings was partnering with Inglewood-based label Prosthetic Records.
Now there's more news on the Prosthetic front. The imprint has revealed to West Coast Sound that they are in the process of pulling their catalog from Spotify. (Turns out we're not the only ones who are over the UK-based streaming music service.)
"There [does] not appear to be an upside," says Prosthetic co-owner E.J. Johantgen. The only income from the service comes in "fractions of pennies," even on their biggest titles, he goes on. What's craziest is that Prosthetic is now the third Los Angeles-area metal label to remove its titles, joining Century Media and Metal Blade.
What's the story here?
Century Media made news last month when it became the first American label to announce that it would pull its catalog. The label sought to protect the interests of its artists, read its press release. Spotify as it's currently configured will "kill...smaller bands that are already struggling to make ends meet," it added.
The service's royalty rates had come under fire even before its U.S. launch. This chart circulated last year, comparing Spotify unfavorably to other distribution methods. The Guardian reported that Universal Music Group and Sony Records had cut deals for more favorable rates, an accusation that Spotify has denied. Yesterday UK folk band Uniform Motion shared with Gizmodo what they stand to make from Spotify streams, and it was almost nothing. (If you play their whole album every day for three years they'll make $40!)
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Keep in mind that the L.A. metal labels who've pulled out of Spotify aren't necessarily anti-digital, or even anti-streaming. Many of their albums are formally put online for free streaming in the days prior to their release, for example. "In about three years, ninety percent of our recorded business will be digital," Johantgen says. "That's perfectly okay with me." (Artists on Prosthetic include Animals As Leaders, Holy Grail, and Skeletonwitch.)
The stage seems to be set for another showdown between the major label conglomerates and independent companies.
After all, one could argue that the financial health of the major labels stand to improve if Spotify remains successful and continues to grow. All of them have ownership stakes in the service, so they also get access to revenue from subscriptions and advertising.
But the only revenue independent labels receive is pay-per-stream royalties. To Johantgen, this doesn't sound quite right. "I would like to see what their projected ad revenue would be. Then we could really determine if their rates are fair."