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James Blake launches new platform Vault as ‘solution’ to streaming

“We are launching Vault to show music has inherent value beyond just exposure”

By Will Richards

James Blake
James Blake (Picture: Thibaut Grevet)

James Blake has launched a new platform called Vault, which he says arrives as a “solution” to the issues of the streaming era.

The singer and producer recently made headlines when he took to social media and shared his frustration with music largely becoming free to the detriment of the artists who create it at great cost.

“Something I keep seeing is ‘if you’re lucky enough to go viral, just use the exposure to generate income some other way’,” he said on X/Twitter. “Musicians should be able to generate income via their music. Do you want good music or do you want what you paid for?”

Blake added: “If we want quality music somebody is gonna have to pay for it. 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.

“The brainwashing worked and now people think music is free.”

James Blake performing live in 2019
James Blake performing live (Photo: Alamy)

After promising to launch an alternative platform, Blake has this week unveiled Vault, a subscription-based platform which he has shared three unreleased tracks from his archives on – ‘We Culture Ref1’, ‘The Man Who Talks Too Much’ and ‘Olivia Kept’.

Now, he has taken to the platform again to share a video message and announce the launch of the platform.

“About a week ago I went viral with a post about the effects of streaming and TikTok on artists’ ability to support themselves and I wanted to give you some figures,” he wrote. “This is how much artists make out of streaming: Between $0.003 and $0.005 per stream, depending on the platform.”

Blake added: “Which is one million plays equals $3,000, and if you’re assigned to a label, then imagine that number’s cut by at least 50 per cent. And after management cut – which is between 15 and 20 per cent – and taxes and recording overheads, it’s just not sustainable for an artist to focus on just their art.

“Only 19 per cent of artists on Spotify have more than 1,000 monthly listeners. And TikTok pays artists so little that Universal just took their whole catalogue off it. I’ve been wondering, how do we sort this shit out?”

His message continued: “I wanted to find a way for musicians to make money directly from the music they make … Music is not cheap to make, and I wanted to help incentivise musicians to actually spend more time making music. Also, I’ve spoken to a lot of artists that feel frustrated that so much great music goes unreleased because it doesn’t meet certain requirements or trends.”

Find out more about Vault here, where Blake will be sharing more unreleased music and first information about live events and early access to tickets and more.