James Blake: “If We Want Quality Music Somebody Is Gonna Have To Pay For It”

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James Blake recently took to social media to talk about the economics of the music industry. The posting started after Blake responded to a quote of his discussing his cover of Frank Ocean’s “Godspeed” that came out in 2020 — Blake also helped produce and write the original 2016 track. Blake originally posted his thoughts to his Instagram story over the weekend, and later shared it to his Instagram grid so it could be seen more widely.

“Remember when my Godspeed cover went viral? Neither me nor Frank [Ocean] ever made a cent cause it was an ‘original sound’ in every video,” Blake wrote. “Most people didn’t even know it was me because my name didn’t show up. Next time your fave goes viral remember they aren’t making shit off that. The industry is beyond fucked and musicians are getting fucked harder than anyone.”

In a series of tweets, Blake expanded on his thoughts: “It’s worth noting this is just an example I used in a post talking about the wider effect of TikTok on music,” he wrote. “Just seeing this part makes it seem navel gazing but I’m speaking on a thing that’s affecting artists all over the world.”

“Something I keep seeing is ‘if you’re lucky enough to go viral, just use the exposure to generate income some other way,’” he continued. “Musicians should be able to generate income via their music. Do you want good music or do you want what you paid for?”

“If we want quality music somebody is gonna have to pay for it,” Blake went on. “Streaming services don’t pay properly, labels want a bigger cut than ever and just sit and wait for you to go viral, TikTok doesn’t pay properly, and touring is getting prohibitively expensive for most artists.”

He concluded: “The brainwashing worked and now people think music is free… And by the way, since it’s cheaper to produce fast, synthetic music to drop on streaming every week to capitalize on the strengths of the model, watch how the model is preparing you for AI generated music that pays musicians nothing at all.”

Over on Blake’s Instagram, a bunch of fellow musicians chimed in with support, including Kanye West, Metro Boomin, BADBADNOTGOOD Dev Hynes, Tyler, The Creator, and many more.