With all the discussions going on about streaming rates and royalties, it’s easy to understand why artists would feel bowled over by the idea of making money off of their digital efforts alone. Even when artists can properly submit the paperwork to get paid for their work on sites like YouTube or Spotify, the results are lengthy reports that have to be divvied out to everyone who played a role in the work’s creation. Revenue organizing platform Stem Disintermedia is on a mission to simplify and streamline the process for creators so that they can focus on the art instead of the money.
“We collect the splits on the sound recording side and on the composition side. We pay all the different collaborators on the contract at the same time,” Stem Co-Founder and President Tim Luckow told Amplify. Stem has been geared toward independent artists trying to control their own content, but has also attracted names like Frank Ocean, whose 2016 album “Blonde” was “powered by Stem.” Their clients also include Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar collaborator Anna Wise, and EDM producer Deadmau5.
The Stem platform allows the company to submit the proper information on songs and videos to streaming services like YouTube, Spotify, and Amazon, collect the earned income, and appropriately direct the funds to those who agreed to split the earnings. Rather than a single uploader recipient trying to decipher the percentages owed to collaborators, Stem takes in all the factors of pre-negotiated payouts and gets the most money possible to every participant at the same time.
“The joke we have here is that transparency isn’t even helpful anymore,” Luckow explained. “The Spotify reports that we get are about a million lines. What we believe is that clarity is what matters. So what we try to provide is a dashboard that makes it really easy to understand,” how many ad-supported streams someone gets on Spotify vs. the subscriber streams.
“They can then use that information to find the best streaming services to market themselves.”
Luckow added “Even though it seems very straightforward, people would be shocked if they knew what was going on on the backend. That’s a lot of our job. It is cleaning that up for the artist so they can understand it.”
With information Stem provides, artists can steer people towards platforms where they are more likely to get more streams and therefore make more money on digital content. Luckow explained that the platform should be viewed more as a control center than a dashboard. He added, “This gives people the opportunity to make decisions not based on gut, but based on real data.”
“The other important part is that it is all source data,” Luckow said. “It’s really easy nowadays to doctor something and update it before you adjust it for whatever it may be. The fact that we can guarantee our artists that this comes directly from Spotify or this comes directly from Apple or directly from Amazon, it’s something that they are not really used to.”
Stem is also a consensus-based payment model, meaning all splits are agreed to prior to uploading content to streaming platforms. This creates a more efficient turnaround for users to receive their earnings and also allows flexibility when creating content. Artists can offer videographers, photographers, cover artists, etc. a percentage of the earnings, relieving them from having to pay up front for creative collaborations.
“It’s less cash floating around upfront for favors and more sharing the earnings of work that you have done together,” Luckow said. He said he is excited to see artists be able to pay their rent based on their income from streaming, which causes fewer rifts within the creative world and artists can focus on more creative efforts rather than arguing over money.
To learn more about Stem and the services they offer head to Stem.is.