Greg PuciatoJesse Draxler

Greg Puciato Says There Is Value In Streaming Platforms, But Cautions: “Somehow, The Gatekeeper Has Become More Important Than The Artist”


A newly published interview over at Kerrang! finds Greg Puciato frankly discussing the recent leak of his debut solo album “Child Soldier: Creator Of God“. That leak, which was traced to a reviewer, ultimately forced him to release the album weeks ahead of schedule.

While that is sadly not an uncommon situation, it’s interesting to see the lessons Puciato personally took from it and how he has learned to adapt in the current state of the music industry.

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In addition to having spent roughly sixteen years fronting The Dillinger Escape Plan, Puciato has also been balancing his time between his burgeoning solo career, The Black Queen, Killer Be Killed and Federal Prisoner Records—a venture he co-founded with Jesse Draxler.

is roles as both an artist and running a label have given him a well-informed perspective during these challenging times for musicians and he offered his viewpoints freely in the aforementioned discussion.

When asked about his take on ‘the mechanics of Spotify with respect to paying artists peanuts’, he responded:

“Well, I mean, it’s not exactly peanuts. It’s not as black and white as people say, and I get really annoyed with the idea that Spotify and Apple are these demons luring artists into some kind of feudal system. It’s not.

They do pay out. The problem with Spotify and Apple is that the way they pay out is incorrect. The model they use is that everybody’s money is in this pool. It’s as if Justin Bieber gets a percentage of my sales. Right? But it’s not actually fair.

What should happen is when people deliberately play tracks, their money should only be given to those artists. If I do nothing but play an artist for a month, then my 10-dollar subscription money should all go to that artist. They’re Congressionally mandated to raise royalty rates, and we do have to hold them accountable, especially because there’s no strong unions in music. But we can’t gut them, either.

You don’t want to go back to torrenting. The only reason we got on top of torrenting is that something out-convenienced it. We’re not there yet with streaming royalties, but it’s not peanuts, man. As someone who releases my own stuff, I tell you, it’s not peanuts.”

When asked about why the impression that streaming platforms don’t pay well has persisted, he replied:

“Labels are more to blame than ever for maintaining that conversation, because labels are putting artists in deals where they’re paying them peanuts from the streaming royalties. If the money was coming straight from Spotify or Apple to the artist, they wouldn’t think it was peanuts.

If someone like Rhianna uploaded just one of her songs on her own, she could live off of that streaming money for the rest of her life. Just one. And that’s at current rates.

But the problem is that people start conversations where it’s ‘The Man vs. The Artist’. Tech is inherently neither a good thing nor bad thing, but it needs to be held accountable.

It’s not just that these companies are replacing downloads; they’re kind of replacing radio, the way that people find out about things. It’s really tricky, and it’s delicate – how do you grow something, and all the artists grow their royalties, without bankrupting the company?

If we lose one, another has a monopoly. That’s the problem; a nuanced conversation is difficult to have. It’s a lot easier to be like, ‘Fuck Spotify! They don’t pay shit!’ Well, yeah, they don’t pay shit compared to a CD in 1995, and they don’t pay shit compared to Bandcamp, that’s for sure. But it’s always going to be a struggle.”

When asked how digital streaming platforms have affected Federal Prisoner, he responded:

“When you’re dealing with companies that aren’t artist-driven, the second you bring in stockholders and the ultimate goal is to increase shareholder value, you have to fucking police those companies. They need to be policed the same way that a Warner Brothers or a Sony would have been policed for royalty rates back in the day.

Dude, I have friends that are gigantic rock stars that signed contracts in the ’80s and ’90s and got a giant amount of money back then, but their situation wasn’t inherently any better than bitching about Spotify today.

Once you involve anyone else – whether it’s Spotify or a record company or a fucking T-shirt manufacturer – someone is always going to be trying to take some of your money, or position themselves so they can make you reliant upon them in a way that they try to dictate how much of your own money you’re getting.”

When asked how the perception of streaming platforms needs to change, he offered:

“Artists should be having more say and more control. Not just some guy. A person that somehow tries to convince you that you need them is by definition a fucking crook; someone coming to you trying to fucking lie to you, convince you that they are the value, and that you need them.

Somehow, the gatekeeper has become more important than the artist, or the gatekeeper has become the person the artist panders to, kisses their ass and acts like they need to fucking beg them for whatever, playlists, like these streaming people pretend are so important.

They’re just a mediator. They provide a service, for us. We’re not the ‘content’ to drive the profit for their shareholders. We are not beholden to them. They are working for us, to deliver what we make, to people. We are the fucking sorcerers, creating something from nothing, and they are the fucking mailman, to get it to the fucking people.

They’re the fucking mailman, and that’s it. We are valuable and the fan is valuable, and they are a fucking go-between. It doesn’t mean that they have zero value, but it does mean that they work for us. That’s the fucking thing that people need to remember.”

More from Puciato on the leak of his new album and how he reacted to the situation, can be found over at Kerrang!. “Child Soldier: Creator Of God” saw a release earlier this month, while Killer Be Killed‘s sophomore album “Reluctant Hero” is due out on November 20th.