Van Dyke Parks on How Songwriters Are Getting Screwed in the Digital Age

Van Dyke Parks on How Songwriters Are Getting Screwed in the Digital Age

Giving It Away

In the digital age, the idea that everything is free has brought genuine hardship to the music business in general and to composers most of all.

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Last month I was invited up to Ringo Starr’s home in Beverly Hills. He asked me to write a song with him for his next “virtual” album. In two days’ devotion, we conjured and recorded a piece called “Bamboula.”

We then sat back and guessed what our possible “day rate” for that time and effort would be. What an irony!

Forty years ago, co-writing a song with Ringo Starr would have provided me a house and a pool. Now, estimating 100,000 plays on Spotify, we guessed we’d split about $80. When I got home, on closer study, I found out we were way too optimistic. Spotify (on par with other streamers) pays only .00065 cents per play.