The second episode of More Than a Shop has been released, where presenter Elizabeth Alker chats about the music industry with BBC 6 Music's Chris Hawkins and Terry Tyldesley from Resonate, the ethical music streaming co-op.
The More Than a Shop series was recorded before the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic. We felt it would seem odd to release further episodes without acknowledging what’s happening. We considered delaying or adapting the series, but decided that this is perhaps the perfect time to consider new ways of doing things as we all imagine a different future. We hope More Than a Shop provides some light and inspiration in these difficult times.
Ch-ch-ch-changes: Disrupting the music industry explores some of the challenges facing musicians and ways to challenge the 'norms' that have emerged in recent years and decades that make it such a difficult industry to breakthrough.
The music industry has been undergoing waves of transformation for decades since the arrival of the Internet and, more recently, streaming services. The old ways of producing, distributing and listening to music have now changed forever.
But where does this leave musicians who wants to make a living and the audiences who want to support them? Can a fairer industry exist where artists, record labels, promoters and fans have a more equitable relationship? And how might co‑operative ownership play its part?
BBC 6 Music's Chris Hawkins and Resonate music streaming co-op's Terry Tyldesley (also a solo musician and in the band Feral Five) both have extensive experience of the music industry and both want a fairer system to exist for artists. Chris Hawkins wants a way for more musicians to make a decent living out of music:
"I think It's easier than ever to make music, and it's harder than ever to be heard. So, I think the challenge is finding ways for young bands to actually make a career out of music."
Terry Tyldesley, Chair of the Board of Resonate, agrees:
"It's how artists can have a fair and equal system and be part of it. But also, most importantly, how they can own it. Because artists don't have a real stake in the industry at the moment, especially in streaming. And we believe very strongly at Resonate that artists should own the tech they use."
The conversation covers a range of issues faced by musicians, from people accessing artists' music for free and the impact streaming has had on people buying music; artists not owning their own data; how alogorithms affect who hears their music; even how artists are charged to sell merchandise at venues. Hawkins adds:
"I think it's an absolutely extraordinary concept to think an artist might produce their life's work with a debut album. Blood, sweat tears, and probably a lot of money has gone into making this album. And then you just give it away. In what world is that normal?"
Resonate offers a fairer price for artists, whilst giving the artists and listeners a stake in the platform (read more about the concept here). There are other areas of the industry where co-operative approaches create a fairer, more sustainable ways of working.
The episode also features an interview with The Trades Club, one of the UK's most popular independent venues, which is owned and run by the local community of Hebden Bridge. Del Bailie, manager of the Trades Club, explains:
"You have hundreds if not thousands, over the years who come here from outside and all over the world to see gigs and of course, inputs into the local economy. We have been around for 100 years but it was set up in the mid-80s as the modern incarnation of the Trade Club. The building at that time was falling into disrepair, really, and lots of locals got together and decided to reopen it as an active social club. It's only in recent years that has transformed into members’ co-operative, but you don't have to be a member to come and enjoy gigs or the bar."
"To us, being a co-operative means participation, solidarity, and community. We try and minimise differentials in terms of wages. So, there's a bunch of staff who are paid to work here, and a whole load of members who are active. And a lot of volunteers who are active members."
Listen to this latest of More Than a Shop podcast at morethanashop.coop, or wherever you get your podcasts – and subscribe to future episodes.