Can you remember the first song you ever purchased online? What about the last? When Damon Kurkowski — formerly of the band Galaxie 500 — received his royalty checks from BMI for the first quarter of 2012, reality struck hard. For the performance of their song “Tugboat” across streaming platforms like Pandora and Spotify, the group was paid just over one dollar. Divided between the three members, their payday had amounted to cents. This is standard practice. It’s notoriously difficult for an independent artist to make ends meet using streaming services, yet those platforms are currently the most popular medium to enjoy music. Last year, Billboard happily declared that “Happy days are here again,” referring to the growth and prosperity of the music industry recently (in large part due to streaming). If companies like Spotify are the future, what kind of future are we referring to? The old model of…

When Arsalan Pourmand, an aspiring architect, turned his San Francisco-based cold-brew company into a specialty coffee shop based in Farmingdale, New York, last February, he had barely $70 in his bank account. Eleven months later, the urban-industrial shop’s transformative atmosphere attracts a loyal and diverse customer base.

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