A “Small Meaningless Rebellion”

That’s how Nigel Godrich described his decision to pull his music off Spotify, the streaming music platform, tweeting, “The reason is that new artists get paid fuck all with this model.. It’s an equation that just doesn’t work.” Godrich’s Atoms for Peace collaborator, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke, also removed his solo material from the service, adding, “Make no mistake new artists you discover on #Spotify will no[t] get paid. meanwhile shareholders will shortly being rolling in it. Simples.”  Spotify responded with a statement:

Right now we’re still in the early stages of a long-term project that’s already having a hugely positive effect on artists and new music. We’ve already paid US$500M to rightsholders so far and by the end of 2013 this number will reach US$1bn. Much of this money is being invested in nurturing new talent and producing great new music. We’re 100% committed to making Spotify the most artist-friendly music service possible…

Spencer Kornhaber characterizes the protest as “annoying, not that effective, and still important”:

Yorke and Godrich’s rejection of Spotify matters … for the simple reason that it screws with the service’s appeal.

I’m a big Spotify user, and I pay $9.99 a month for a premium subscription. (People can listen for free on their home computers as long as they’re willing to sit through ads). I like feeling as though all of recorded music is at my beckon, anytime and anywhere. Of course, all of recorded music isn’t actually at my beckon, and there are annoying gaps in Spotify’s catalog–like, uh, The Beatles. But weirdly, almost insidiously, you adapt. The awesome electronic artist Four Tet tweeted yesterday that he’s withheld his label’s music from the service for a long time. Which reminded me–I haven’t listened to Four Tet in a while… and that’s probably because most of his stuff isn’t on Spotify.

Radiohead’s manager Brian Message maintains his support for Spotify.  But Sam Duckworth sides with Yorke and Godrich:

4,685 Spotify plays of my last solo album equated to £19.22 (that’s 0.004p per album stream). The equivalent to me selling two albums at a show. I think it’s fair to say that at least two of those almost 5,000 listeners would have bought the album from me if they knew the financial disparity from streaming. At the same time, many record labels are reaping the rewards of online streaming, whether it be through potential share dividends when a company gets sold or the “money for old rope” practice of repackaging music.

Meanwhile, Benji Rogers, the co-founder of PledgeMusic, believes his direct-to-fan platform creates an equitable music economy:

The average pledger, based on the past six months, spends $57 per transaction on the site, and for that money they don’t just get the album and/or merchandise – they get exclusive, immediate video updates from the artist, as the record is being created. … [Rogers is] at pains to clarify that Pledge is not a crowdfunding platform, or a direct-to-consumer service. “Crowdfunding is ‘please give money, then I will do’,” he elaborates. “Direct-to-consumer is ‘I’ve done it, here’s five ways to buy it.’ We’re in the middle with ‘be a part of the making of it’ – it truly is direct-to-fan.”