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​James Blake launches music subscription platform in response to "unfair" royalty rates

Vault is a monthly subscription service model creating a direct link between artists and fans

  • 22 March 2024
​James Blake launches music subscription platform in response to "unfair" royalty rates

James Blake has launched a new music subscription platform in response to the current royalty rates from record labels and streaming services, Vault.

Vault is a direct artist-to-fan service where users can subscribe to their favourite musicians for a monthly fee, receiving unreleased music in return. Blake has added three new unreleased tracks on the platform already, which can be accessed for $5 a month.

The platform was launched yesterday, March 20, following a series of social media posts from Blake earlier this month around the “unfair” pay rates from major labels, streaming services, and platforms like TikTok.

Blake spoke about the monetisation of music on streaming platforms, claiming the current climate has led consumers to think "music is free”, noting the “wider effect of TikTok on music”.

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"If we want quality music somebody is gonna have to pay for it," he said in a Tweet. "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."

Blake announced the launch of Vault yesterday via a video posted to social media, providing what he calls a “solution” to the current monetisation of music. The platform will allow artists to release music on their own terms, and offers a way to speak directly to your favourite artists about the music they’re releasing.

He gave some statistics on the amount artists are paid per stream - “between $0.003 and $0.005 depending on the platform,” he explained, which is before taxes and label cuts.

“I wanted to find a way for musicians to make money directly from the music they make, not least to be able to reinvest in the very expensive process of renting studios, hiring musicians, etc.”

He added that he’ll now be able to drop “more music” than ever before. "It’s music direct from me to you, where no one can gatekeep what I release to you, or delay my releases," he said.

Musician and music technologist Mat Dryhurst wrote on Twitter: "I appreciate the James Blake Vault thing as it gets one thing right: if you want people to pay for your music, don't also post it for free to streaming."

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Though initially backed by his comments earlier this month by the likes of Tyler, The Creator and Kanye, the Vault project has faced some scepticism online since its launch.

“So it’s like Onlyfans for musicians in a sense? I’ve seen the subscription model work for artists in the adult industry but it doesn’t work for everyone. Mostly benefits people who already have huge followings,” one person commented. Blake replied that there will be ways to “discover artists on the platform in future iterations”.

Dubstep producer TISOKI also added: “I feel like this just makes music more expensive for the consumer as opposed to making an artist more money which in turn is just detrimental to the whole thing no?”

“If I listen purely on vault and I’m paying $5 for each artist… that’s gonna add up and for the average person, is non sustainable.”

Find out more about Vault here.

Update: This article previously called Vault a 'streaming platform', which has now been corrected to 'music subscription platform'.

Gemma Ross is Mixmag's Assistant Editor, follow her on Twitter

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