Billy Corgan is an outspoken guy. The Smashing Pumpkins frontman turned semi-pro wrestler is known to speak out when he’s got an opinion, especially about politics. And he’s none too happy about what Apple’s been doing with Apple Music.
Responding to the debacle between Taylor Swift and Apple over paying musicians royalties for their catalog during Apple Music’s introductory 3-month free period (a flare-up which resulted in Apple’s uncharacteristic caving, Corgan told CNBC:
I applaud her for taking a stand, but this is going to be played out by the media as ‘Taylor versus Apple,’ and that’s not the real story. The real story is the 10,000 other artists that Apple doesn’t pay attention to past their top 12.
He went on to say this would only end if artists within the industry “wake up.”
Once artists understand the power they have in this marketplace, all heck’s going to break loose. This is a big admission on Apple’s part that they’re afraid of the negative tide that could be beginning, so they want to nip it in the bud.
We’re not being paid commensurate to our value to Apple, Spotify or to anybody. Once the artists wake up, there’s going to be a bloody turf war, and this is a very big sign of what I’ve been predicting.
It’s true, musicians are chronically underpaid by streaming services. According to Spotify, artists earn approximately 7/10ths of a penny every time a song is streamed online. Apple Music probably doesn’t offer artists much more than that, even without taking a free streaming period into account.
So Corgan’s right. It’s time to wake-up. Unless we start paying artists what they’re worth — not just musicians, but writers, film makers, and yes, even photographers — art itself will become unsustainable. But that’s not actually an issue of Apple’s greed. It’s an issue of all of our greed.