Boycotting Problematic Artists; How Much is Your Money Really Worth?

By Brooke Schultz

Put your money where your mouth is. That adage has only become more prevalent as, well, every single industry has an onslaught of seedy characters unveiled almost daily. The question has become — can you separate someone from their art? Should you decide yes, that question only becomes more complicated — how much do your ticket stubs or plays on Spotify really affect those who’ve abused their power in the spotlight?

To start, let’s look at how movies even make their money. When we look at ticket prices, only about 50 percent of those sales go back to the studio, according to Investopedia, and most of that comes from the opening weekend as more goes to the theater the longer the movie is shown. Merchandise — action figures, posters, T-shirts — are a push to build revenue.

Not all movies come with action figures, obviously. With DVD sales declining (but still chugging along), streaming movies on Netflix or Video on Demand rights are a way to up revenue through licensing agreements. When Netflix earns new titles, it has to pay for them — it cost $45 million for “Lost” to appear on the platform, according to Investopedia.

While TV shows or Netflix original movies take some uncertainty out of the box office — movies that could be flops get a nice cut upfront — it doesn’t matter if “five people or five million people watch the movie,” as “it will be the same pay for the creators and stars of the movie,” according to Forbes.

Music streaming sites like Spotify and Apple Music — which, according to 9to5, accounted just over half of the revenue in 2016 — pay their artists between $7 to $15 per 1,000 streams, so clearly that’s not where your favorite acts are making their money. But when they go on tour and you buy a concert ticket and your 15th T-shirt (Just me?) and maybe some other trinket (Boxing gloves? A beach towel? They’ll slap their insignia on anything), that’s a huge grossing factor.

So — does your money even matter? Perhaps not noticably. But your data does. If you’re a Spotify user, your most played songs are projected back at the end of the year. Netflix uses consumer “data mining” to see what people are watching, and that ultimately helps them decide what to license and for how much to license it.

Yes. Your voice — how you decide to spend your time and money — does have an impact.

I’ll leave you with some vital stats: In a study from YouGov Omnibus, 38 percent of respondents indicated that they would still see the movie even if the lead actor or actress had been accused of sexual assault, with 40 percent consisting of men and 36 percent consisting of women.

For music, the numbers were a bit closer: 24 percent of men and 19 percent of women would buy an album anyway, whereas 21 percent of men and 23 percent of women would never buy or listen to the album.

There’s also the folks who walk the middle of the line: while they wouldn’t purchase a ticket to the movie or pay for an album, there is a percentage who would watch it on TV or stream it online later (10 percent men, 14 percent women for movies; 20 percent men and women for albums).

Rape culture — the culture in which we normalize sexual harassment, assault, and misconduct — is only perpetuated when we support the art despite the actions of the people who create it.  Supporting content that allows rapists and those who are guilty of sexual assault to continue in the spotlight with no consequences creates an environment for these behaviors to fester.

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