Disturbed’s David Draiman Says Streaming Saved The Music Industry
The meager per song payouts artists receive through streaming platforms has been the subject of many features and op-eds over the past few years. The amount of income that artists -- even superstar artists -- stand to make off of their recordings today is minuscule compared to what it used to be in the '90s and early 2000s. Disturbed's David Draiman, however, says that music streaming is actually behind the resurrection of the music industry.
Today, the best way for a band to generate revenue is to remain on the road. Avenged Sevenfold's Synyster Gates even went on record saying that 99.9 percent of the band's income comes through touring. But based on that model, artists need to stay on the road in order to keep making money. Disturbed, who went on hiatus from 2011 through mid-2015, demonstrated their staying power by returning after four years without losing many (or any) fans. In our interview with Draiman (video above), he cautioned that not every band has the ability to take this risk.
"Not everyone can. Not everyone can, from a financial aspect, to be perfectly honest," he admitted. "We're successful enough that we had the luxury of being able to do that. For younger bands that don't have the draw that we do, it's incredibly difficult. It really is. For bands that don't understand or don't fully take advantage of how the machine actually works, it's incredibly difficult."
He then turned his attention toward the argument that streaming is of no benefit to the artist. "People demonize streaming. They think that's the thing that killed aspects of this industry when nothing could be further from the truth. Piracy is what killed aspects of this industry — streaming is bringing it back," the singer asserts.
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"The difference is that every band needs to really pay attention to what their record contract says," he offered as advice. "If they look at what their royalty rate is... if you realize you're getting .07 cents for every stream and your contract only says that you get 15 points on the record after you've recouped everything [there's a lot of zeroes after that decimal]. It just keeps on being reduced and reduced and reduced and reduced and you have to really pay attention to it. You have to negotiate, you have to [play] hardball. You have to try to improvise, adapt and overcome — I've said that a million times."
Rallying behind the power of streaming, Draiman explained that the platform has already begun to revive the music industry. "There's no greater proof and testimony to the fact that streaming works than the fact that record companies are all of a sudden in the black again and they're actually making profits and they're actually seeing some of the best revenue they've seen in a decade," he said.
Looking toward a better future for both labels and artists, the Disturbed frontman added, "Hopefully now with the passing of the Music Modernization Act, some of the particulars from the legislation will start permeating into how we end up operating as a business, collectively as a community and hopefully we'll find some happy middle ground between artist and label that ends up making a little more sense."
For new artists, streaming is a double-edged sword. "The discovery aspect of it is huge. That's what I also see as a tremendous positive of it. People can demonize it a hundred ways to Tuesday, but at the end of the day, you have a greater opportunity to reach more people than you ever did in your life as an artist. There's more avenues to do it, it's easier to do it," stresses Draiman. This comes with a caveat, however, as the singer cautioned, "It can be a bad thing when you get lost in the shuffle, when there's too many voices not being heard or your particular project doesn't get enough volume or exposure. For the fans, there's no such thing as too much music, but for bands, the more competition, the more difficult [it can be]."
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