If you’re a musician, a studio geek or a music fan, you’ve probably been hearing a lot of information — and misinformation — about Spotify, royalty rates, streaming services and the modern musical economy. Input Output hosts Geoff and Eli filter out all the noise in this new three-part series on the compensation and creative rights of musicians and producers. Whether you’re angry at “the man” or just wondering what the big deal is, it’s our humble opinion that the following interview may be among the most edifying and grounded conversations you’ll hear on the subject.
This week’s guest, Jeremy deVine, started the indie label Temporary Residence Records while working at a hardware store in Baltimore. He even went without heat in the dead of one winter just to help scrape together the funds for the first Explosions in the Sky album — a release that would put them, and his new label on the map.
Since then, deVine and Temporary Residence have signed countless popular niche bands like Pinback, Mono and Maserati, and have put out new tracks from Low, Mogwai and Will Oldham. Recently, distressed by his labels’ returns from Spotify (about $30,000 for around 18 million plays) deVine sent a well-considered letter to the bands on his roster, asking for their permission to remove the label’s entire catalog from Spotify. His goal: to compare a year’s returns with Spotify, to one without.
Although deVine is optimistic that on-demand streaming could someday become a valuable resource, he’s unconvinced that time is now. Impressed by deVine’s scientific and unemotional approach to the issues, Geoff and Eli ask Jeremy about his experience with Spotify, and about what the service would have to do to help attract and sustain smaller-scale releases in the future.
Plenty of people have opinions about the business of music, but not many are willing to put their money where their mouths are. Jeremy deVine is one of the few, and his edifying take on the issue comes grounded in real-world numbers. We hope you find this interview as insightful and eye-opening as we did.