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Michael Pelczynski (Forms + Shapes) on what we get wrong about streaming economics

September 14, 2023

Music streaming has never been bigger — and more scrutinized.

Today’s leading streaming services host hundreds of millions of paid subscribers and add 100,000 new songs daily. It also seems more difficult than ever for artists to make a living from streaming. DSPs themselves are also struggling with profitability. Major labels, seeing the writing on the wall, are actively pushing for payment reform in their licensing renegotiations, especially towards models that incentivize more loyal fan behavior.

​And amidst this chaos, there’s still widespread confusion and misunderstanding around the basics of how streaming economics really works.

​Our Water Cooler interview with Michael Pelczynski — principal advisor at Forms + Shapes and former VP of Strategy at SoundCloud, where he architected the platform’s influential “fan-powered royalties” model — dove into common myths and misconceptions about the past, present, and future of streaming economics.

We covered points including but not limited to:

  • ​Why you can’t treat streaming income like download income (read: streaming payments are fluid, not transactional)
  • ​How artists can adapt to the fluid nature of streaming economics in their release/career strategies
  • ​Opportunities for tech innovation that can better serve artists’ career needs

You can watch the full video below:

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