After having my label elsewhere's catalog on streaming platforms for one year, I decided to pull the entire catalog (except a few exceptions) from streaming.
I put the elsewhere catalog onto streaming platforms last year since some of the musicians on my label wanted that. They thought that this visibility was crucial for them to be invited to festivals or to get grants or awards, etc. I wanted to support these musicians and also I myself was rather optimistic about streaming then, which I thought could bring positive effects on my label and musicians through wider recognition. It might actually be true in some ways, but I think that the reality was much more harmful to a small (and relatively new) label like ours than I expected.
The CD/digital sales of my label's catalog drastically dropped as soon as they appeared on streaming (especially the recent releases in 2020 which went streaming right after the release time.) Meanwhile, we've been getting a good amount of CD/digital orders for the latest two elsewhere releases (which are not on streaming) as well as our Erstwhile CDs (which are also not on streaming) throughout the year, so I don't think the drop in the CD sales was so connected to the pandemic time.
I've been observing this phenomenon over the year, and it was quite depressing for me to see how streaming hurts a small label, especially since we pour our intense effort and time into each production to pursue the best possible results both in music and packaging. If my label had a much longer history with a more established fan base with over 100 titles on the catalog, probably streaming might not have hurt us as much as it did. I should've predicted this outcome from the very beginning.
Thankfully, most of the musicians on my label have similar views as mine regarding streaming and are happy with this decision. Each release is different, though, and I may keep a few titles on streaming. Everything else has been pulled from all the streaming platforms this week except Bandcamp. Bandcamp is the only sincere platform that I feel truly cares about artists and labels instead of exploiting them (like Spotify), so I am happy that I can support Bandcamp as the sole streaming platform for my label from now on.
For me, it is pretty depressing to know that festival organizers and grant committees these days are depending on such a shallow criterion to judge artists' values, casually checking out the artist's popularity on Spotify to decide who they want to invite or give grants, without caring about the poor sound quality of Spotify which is like watered-down cheap drinks rather than real music, instead of trying to check out more serious media like CDs or lossless digital at least. Maybe they are just too busy, but it's just laziness to me, lack of respect for music and art, giving priority to their own convenience without fully realizing that they are supporting a vicious cycle. Such a system is mainly based on strategy and politics on both organizer's and musician's ends, which to me doesn't feel so genuine from an artistic viewpoint. But sadly, this must be the reality that many musicians have to inhabit these days if they seek recognition. Jon and I may live in a different world from the majority, but we are proud of caring about the value of physical products that we can hold in our hands, which give us great satisfaction both visually and sonically.
I am sorry if you are a streaming fan who enjoyed the elsewhere titles on streaming. But I had to make this decision to save my label's future, to keep elsewhere afloat without going out of business. I hope you will be able to understand that.
In the meantime, the positive news is that we are now working on some exciting new projects for upcoming releases. They will not appear on streaming but hope you will enjoy them as CDs or digital albums.
Thanks so much for reading this, and for your kind support for my label.
Take care and stay safe to you all.