Electronica producer Madeon has been using Twitter this week to jab a sharp stick into his label’s side, over a reported Soundcloud takedown action. The tweet protest illustrates how rights-holder decisions about streaming access to music can conflict with artist values.
We reported that Sony had removed some of its artist content from SoundCloud, the streaming audio platform which is laboring through extended negotiations with labels for authorized use of artist recordings. Sony did not disclose its rationale for removing some artists, takedowns did happen (Adele, Hozier, Kelly Clarkson, others), and are proceeding after those initial actions.
Madeon is a French EDM producer and performer, and two days ago he notified his Twitter audience that his music would imminently disappear from SoundCloud. “Sony will take down all of my music from my SoundCloud account in the next few days, let’s have a farewell listen.” That remark was sad but without rancor. Next, though, came this: “Thank you SoundCloud for being such a great discovery platform over the past five years. Well done Sony for holding your own artists hostage.”
Giving away music to gain exposure and stimulate discovery is an age-old strategy, sometimes born of necessity. With EDM music, which grew into a giant category without radio or major-label support in early years, direct distribution to fans, without regard to immediate reward, has been a traditional route for artists. Last summer we spoke to EDM superstar Ryan Farish about this, and he described how massive music giveaways on streaming/downloading platforms built virality for his brand, and were responsible for his eventual success.
“I gave away nearly two-million songs on MP3.com when I got started,” Farish told us then. “You might think that’s terrible. But how much would it have cost a label or myself to have gotten my music out to that many people exposure wise?”
We asked Ryan Farish about YouTube’s career-building role, and whether money or exposure was more important. “It would definitely be the exposure. YouTube is very important for promoting your music. The advertising revenue is minimal, but the promotional value and reach is very substantial.” Farish owns his own label.
If EDM artists like Ryan Farish and Madeon have a longer view of the success path, and are more willing to trade short-term transactional thinking for longer-term audience growth, it might be because the genre has demanded patience and generous fan relationships during its emergence.
Madeon calibrated his message: “(Lots of love for my label Columbia of course, they’re great. Less love for Sony Corporate’s disconnected-from-reality strategy.)”
As of this posting, the takedown has not yet happened. Madeon has over 800,000 soundcloud followers, and many of his tracks have been streamed millions of times.