To have watched Little Simz performing so powerfully at the BRITs just two months ago, it would have been remarkable to think she would cancel her North American tour due to the “huge deficit” it would put her in.
But such is her strength in remaining an independent artist, that that’s exactly the position she’s in.
The London rapper was due to head out on an 11-date series of shows next month, including concerts in LA, Chicago and New York. But these shows will now no longer be able to go ahead due to the financial difficulties that have “left [her] with no option but to reschedule” the tour.
Explaining further, the Best New Artists winner at this year’s BRITs said how as “an independent artist, I pay for everything encompassing my live performances out of my own pocket”.
— Little Simz (@LittleSimz) April 19, 2022
It’s yet another reminder of the minimal payments paid to artists. Despite the release of a highly acclaimed and even commercially successful album last year, Sometimes I Might Be Introvert, which reached No. 4 in the UK charts (whilst Drake’s Certified Lover Boy and Ye’s Donda were still kicking about) and No. 1 on the Indie Album and R&B Charts, Little Simz still finds herself facing financial difficulty.
Little Simz, born Simbiatu Ajikawo, has even had recent success as an actor, starring in the highly popular Top Boy series. She is also set to appear in Amazon Prime’s The Power, an adaptation of Naomi Alderman’s 2016 novel.
No doubt major labels would jump at the chance to snap up an artist of Little Simz’ calibre, upfront the cost and support her tour. They’d even likely accrue a decent profit. But that’s beside the point. As Little Simz further expressed in her message, she implored to “all artists and creatives, know your worth and stick to your guns.”
As has been demonstrated by numerous cases, not least Taylor Swift’s decision to re-record some of her previous work in order to own all her own masters, the battle for an artist to maintain control over their work is becoming increasingly difficult.
In large, such an environment is created and exacerbated by the meagre royalty payments paid to artists, which reportedly stands at between just £0.002 and £0.004 per stream. Yes, 1,000 streams will barely get you a cup of coffee, let alone a Pret subscription.
Spotify, the largest streaming platform, have recently tried to come out fighting, saying they’ve paid out a total of £22.7 billion ($30 billion) since 2006. Then again, they’ve also been willing to fork out £240 million in a vanity project to rename Camp Nou.
The problem is not so much Spotify’s success. It’s their comparative wealth compared to what they’re willing to pay the artists that constitute their platform – those who, without which, they’d be nothing.
This all comes despite enormous growth in the industry. Just over a month ago, IFPI revealed that the global music market grew by a remarkable 18.5% between 2020 and last year. That’s a huge – and expanding – cake with only mere crumbs being given out to artists.
Little Simz’ latest announcement is a reminder that even the very best are struggling.