Digweed – Is It Time Music Makers Are Paid By Live Streaming Services For Their Content?

“You cant play music in a Hairdressers or a coffee shop without paying a license fee to a music collection agency, so big companies acting like tv / radio stations, should really should be playing by the same rules as everyone else…”

We caught up with Bedrock head honcho John Digweed to discuss the Coronavirus effect, plus a whole bunch of stuff.

Coronavirus has changed everything, realistically when do you envisage being able to tour again and how do you see this impacting artists plus the industry as a whole? 

As much as I miss touring and playing gigs, the reality is that there is a virus out there at the moment with no vaccine and most countries are in lockdown. It’s pretty obvious that nightclubs/festivals will be the last industry that will get the green light to restart back up.

These are strange times with club owners / promoters waiting for a green light from the authorities in how clubs and events can reopen. I think most people would rather, as frustrating as it is, wait a little longer and get it right, as opposed to rushing to open clubs and festivals which may cause a second wave causing everything to get shut down again. Peoples health and their safety is the most important thing at this time.

Given DJs are not going to be earning any money for potentially the next 12 months, do you think it would be reasonable to move towards a pay per view model for live streams? 

These are tough times indeed for so many people, not only in the music industry but across the board for many people which is very sad, as good people are losing jobs through no fault of their own.

I am sure as time goes by people will start to look at ways to earn money through the streaming platforms, but it’s also important that the music makers who’s registered tracks that are getting played are accounted to by the various collection agencies. Some of these live streaming companies  are worth billions and should really have systems in place that pay a royalty percentage for the music that’s played on their sites.

You cant play music in a Hairdressers or a coffee shop without paying a license fee to a music collection agency, so big companies acting like tv / radio stations, should be playing by the same rules as everyone else, as the music content makes a massive difference to these sites and without it would people be so attracted to visiting them.

As for pay per view I am sure that is coming, the big festivals must be planning a pay per view live stream festival very soon and others might follow.

Everyone is loving all this content that’s out there at the moment but I am sure the time will come when you will be asked to pay or donate for it on certain streams by some artists or club / festival promoters.

If you really like a festival / club / artists or dj there are ways you can help support them directly by buying music or merchandise from their websites direct.

We always tune in to your weekly live stream on Facebook which annoyingly keeps getting cut off. Do you think Facebook should be looking to reward streamers and content providers for keeping people engaged on their platform? Do also think they should be doing more to reward rightsholders? 

As it stands there is only one platform at the moment that pays the rights holders for music that is played on their platform, Mixcloud has spent years working on getting the right licenses in place to pay royalties to artists through their music player and have now introduced Mixcloud Live which add a Live Streaming service that also pays rights holders. So to do the right thing, this means that all sites that are streaming dj sets at the moment should be licensed and collecting for the rights holders. Now more than ever the fans should be trying to support the sites that also reward the music makers. And the major platforms that are live streaming should be working with collection agencies to look after the music content makers.

Given the dire economic situation, do you think Beatport’s dominance is in a dangerous position? We understand they are charging labels 40% (+ 10% extra to cover publishing rights) to sell their music. Digital aggregators who supply the music to them are taking a further 20% cut. Given often artists are waiting often 5 months to receive their royalties, do you think we’ll start seeing labels start to bypass Beatport and start selling their music direct? Because we’d noticed you’d also done this with Quattro. 

Each company sets its fees and people have the choice whether to use them or not and compared to what Spotify / Youtube and other streaming sites pay, Beatport’s % its still way better.

For all artists to get a greater percentage of their royalties the best platform for them is Bandcamp where the money comes in and the artists are in control of their page and they get paid straight away, the trade off is that if you have a successful track on Beatport you gain more awareness which leads to more bookings / remixes etc and great exposure so if your just starting out now you really need all platforms.

Recently I think artists would rather have the exposure from big record and get the boost with more bookings, currently there are no bookings for a while so while you might get exposure you don’t get as much money. This time with lockdown and no gigs has made artists analyse things a lot more and that their music content on streaming sites could and should be rewarded with a higher percentage. I think Lockdown has raised the question that there needs to be a serious debate on streaming platforms and fairer payments for artists and labels as their content is key.

We love Quattro. Where did the inspiration come from for it and where do you rank it amongst all the amazing mixes you’ve crafted over the years?

The album just came together really organically. Originally it was just going to be a Bedrock 21 album with 2 CD’s – unmixed – one CD with new tracks and another with remixes. As the tracks came in, I saw the potential for a downtempo project with some of the club tracks plus there were some amazing atmospheric breaks tracks like London Acid, DJ Sadie that added a mood to the album. This ultimately became “Soundscape”.

Nick Muir and I had been working on a side project that was very similar to The Traveler, an album we did a few years before, and decided that adding it to the new project would probably bring it to a wider audience. At this point I was still planning to release it as an unmixed compilation. I was on a long flight one day and decided to mix the tracks together to see how they’d sound as a total mix album, and I couldn’t believe how much they changed the album. I love how the genres switch up throughout the mix and the sounds are constantly moving and flowing into different sounds. I’m so happy with how it turned out and thankful to all the artists involved, and also to Nick Muir for his incredible vision and musical skills on the “Juxtaposition” CD. It is one of the best projects I’ve done in years and I’m not sure if I could top it, to be honest.

It’s not all doom and gloom; given the massive changes already occurring, do you think this is a positive time for artists looking to make a name in today’s scene? Where do you see more opportunities?

There are always opportunities in life, you just have to have the right mindset. I came from a small seaside town and as I grew up, I quickly realized nobody was going to come knocking on my door and offer me a job at the best clubs in London. You have to work hard and put yourself out there. There’s currently an opportunity to use this time to connect with people via the internet and bring aware of your music and who you are. Don’t try to rush it and expect instant success. Take your time and build a core and loyal fanbase, as without fans you will not last. If people see that you have a real passion for what you do it will serve you well throughout your career.

John Digweed’s Quattro is out on Now On Bedrock


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