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Supporting musicians in the streaming era

We’re approaching nine months of Fallen Tree Records, and there’s much to celebrate. 🎉

Fallen Tree Records’ music so far!

We’ve already released eight great musical projects from artists including 100 mile house, Jon Brooks, Logan and Nathan and Jessica Heine. And these were not only in the digital realm but five were also on CD, and two of those releases on vinyl LP. And then there’s another on the way (Jon Brooks’ Moth Nor Rust II)!

Yet we often get asked why are you still releasing CDs and vinyl? Do the artists get paid if we stream their music? Who even buys CDs? How can we support the artists the most?

They’re questions a lot of us have, as we transition from physical collections proudly exhibited on our living room shelves, to the digital world of unseen guilty musical pleasures. But surprisingly they’re questions that are seldom asked, and even less answered.

Do artists get paid if we stream their music?

One hurdle these days is keeping in the loop with your favourite artists – if you don’t know they have a new release, or a live show coming up, then you can’t support them. So you have to make the algorithms that drive our modern services work for you. Without your input, their algorithmic offerings will never quite sate your musical hunger.

So here are Fallen Tree Records’ tips to support the artist the most by keeping yourself in the loop, and getting out there to feel the music. Some of these will also benefit the label 👋 , others really are just great ways to be a fan 👏:

1. Live music matters

If an artist you adore is coming to your area go see them live. There’s nothing quite like it. Whether it’s at a local pub, a high class venue, or a festival, music thrives when it’s live.

Calgary Folk Festival 2019 feeling the music

But how do you stay in the loop? Take advantage of apps like Bandsintown (iOS, Android), Songkick (iOS, Android) and even Spotify (who use Songkick’s data, so if you’re on Spotify, you can skip the former). You have to let those apps know who you care about. On Bandsintown and Songkick that means Tracking the artists you care about. On Spotify you need to Follow that artist (see below).

Click these links to track our artists on Bandsintown

Jon Brooks, Jessica Heine, Logan and Nathan, Silent Winters, 100 mile house, Jay Aymar, Ayla Brook

2. Support the media

Without venues, we can’t see our favourite music, but without the press and radio we may never have heard the music that grooves our lives. So be aware of how you became the fan you are now. Who were the influencers, and how can you support them?

Just some publications that support artists

Consider subscribing or donating to your favourites, especially if it’s a community publication or radio station. You might consider supporting any of these organizations: Penguin Eggs, Rolling Stone, Beatroute, Exclaim!, Pitchfork, !earshot, Daze, Now, The Georgia Strait, The Globe and Mail, Postmedia (eg. Edmonton Journal), The Star, Winnipeg Free Press, No Depression, American Songwriter, Guitar Player, Acoustic Guitar, fRoots (wrapping up), The Alternate Root, Consequence of Sound, Roots Music Canada, Tinnitist, Americana UK, Folk Alley, Fervor Coulee, Rambles.net, canadianbeats.ca, CKUA, NPR, CBC, BBC, ABC, Folk Alliance, Americana Music Association, The Blues Foundation, or the myriad more blogs, organizations and publications that we all rely on, but are too numerous to name here. Feel free to comment on who we missed out!

3. Buy the music, buy the merch

“Buy? I just stream it.” Sure, but each stream counts as a teeny, tiny purchase, so reframe your thinking, and be happy to stream music through legitimate services. However, it’s worth thinking about value chain, especially if you want to support the artist the most.

First, CD or vinyl is a great option if you want to give the artist the most amount of money straight away. Even better if you buy it from them off-stage at a show (they easily get the most money through that transaction, and you often have a chance to get them to sign it or briefly tell them how their music makes your cat do back-flips), or from their label. Purchasing from your local record store is also a great option that supports your local music eco-system.

Spinning the first test pressing

The sound of vinyl truly is exceptional: when we got our first test pressing, for Jessica Heine’s Goodbye Party, and we compared the vinyl against the CD it was clear how much warmer the vinyl sound was. As fans, it’s well worth the investment.

But when you’re on the move a record isn’t practical, and increasingly CD players are no longer in vehicles. A supplementary music subscription comes in here. According to one mid-sized record label’s revenues here are the (major) platforms that pay the most per stream: Amazon Unlimited (not the same as what’s included with a Prime membership), Napster/Rhapsody, Tidal, Deezer, Google Play, Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora and way down the value chain is YouTube. If you’re currently only listening to music on YouTube, and you have the means, consider moving up to a more artist supportive platform.

It’s also worth noting that any freemium platform will pay less per stream than when you’re on the premium/monthly payment platform within the same service. So if you’re looking to support music more, take out that monthly subscription to your platform of choice. Similarly high quality options will also pay artists more (eg. Tidal offers a HiFi tier). If you can’t stretch to the full monthly cost at this point, see if you can take advantage of the family or student plans.

Some of our merchandise includes engraved Guitar Picks. Neat!

Suppoting artists isn’t just about music though – when you see them live, buy a t-shirt, tuque or custom socks, whatever it is they’re offering on their merch table. We’re proud to be able to offer some amazing wooden guitar picks, along with some rather sticky stickers.

4. Play the algorithms

If you’re on a streaming service, make sure it’s working for you. Love, Follow or Heart the music and artists you care for. This will sometimes be automatically be done for you based on your ingested music collection, but to be sure you’re hearing new music when it comes, Follow diligently. Search for the artists you spin the most at home, and make sure you’re following them.

We’ve made Following our artists on Spotify easy, just click on the links below:

It’s not just artist accounts to follow. Follow playlists that are cool, and then listen to them again and again. We have a few playlists, and each follow and each listen is another way to help the artists featured in them.

Fallen Tree Records may have only been around for 9 months, but we hope you’ll continue to check in with our artists for the months and years to come, but no matter what, make sure you’re getting the most out of the music platforms you do use – don’t miss out on new music because you’re afraid to click a ♥️ . Thanks for reading.