by Melissa Santiago
We are experiencing a typical later summer heat wave in San Francisco just a few days after the official start of Fall. Temps aren’t only rising in San Francisco though, things are also getting hot (in herre) on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. Last week, TMZ (totally reputable source, right?) leaked that popular R&B artist Nelly was in debt to the IRS for a chill $2.4 million. This comes on the heels of his 2000’s album, Country Grammar, reaching certified Diamond status in August of this year. Only 7 other hip hop albums have reached Diamond status, to put that in perspective.
Once TMZ released the news about Nelly’s tax bills, Twitter responded. The hashtag #SaveNelly surged into the trending topics section urging fans to stream as much of Nelly’s music as possible as a way to raise money to help him pay his tax bills. However, revenue is low for artists if they are only relying on streaming profits as income. Spin pointed out, “people would have to stream the song at least 287,176,547 times in order to erase Nelly’s entire $2 million in tax debt.”
As a society, we have not yet gotten Nelly to those 287 million plays, but we are moving the needle. Billboard reports, “on-demand audio U.S. streams of his 2002 smash rocketed by 219 percent on Sept. 13.”
Maybe Taylor Swift (and hundreds of other smaller artists that never got any press) was right to raise awareness about the fraction of a penny artists make per play on streaming services like Spotify, while, Spotify is making a nice profit that wouldn’t be possible without content from artists.
How can you help? Glad you asked. Support small and large artists by buying their music, seeing them on tour, and purchasing merch from their tables at shows and from their online stores. Taylor Swift may be raising awareness, but you can help by raising your pint glass and singing along when tours come through your town. Consider this official permission to wear the band’s shirt at their concert and to stream Hot In Herre on repeat during your commute.