Going Against The Stream, Ctd

A reader sounds off on Swift vs Spotify:

Musician here, with music on Spotify/iTunes etc. Spotify, and streaming services in general, ARE THE BEST THING TO HAPPEN TO MUSIC SINCE CDs. Why? Because people are paying for music again.

Musicians want to turn back time. Back to the days where people bought CDs for $19 a piece and the record labels and the musicians made a killing. Those days are dead. Napster killed them. But instead of monetizing Napster, the musicians and record companies tried to kill it. Then they fought iTunes (which is also slowly losing to streaming services, unless Beats takes off). In the meantime, most people were just stealing their music from Pirate Bay, Kazaam, Bit Torrent, etc.

The problem with Aloe Blacc, Taylor Swift and every other musician, is that they think their music is worth a lot more than it actually is. They should be happy that people are paying for music again instead of stealing it. The irony is, they are bitching about Spotify when people can still hear all their music for free – on YouTube. Because the major labels refused licensed to Spotify in time, the public went to YouTube to listen to their music, which is 100% free and musicians make NO money from. If most of the public was on Spotify or beats or Pandora, the musicians would be making a lot more money. Instead, they are tilting at windmills.

One of several more readers:

I am a rabid fan of music (and part owner of a vinyl record store) and have always believed that people who create music deserve to reap the fruits of their labor and artistic expression. And although nothing will beat the sound and warmth of a needle bouncing through the grooves of vinyl, there is also no question that Spotify is one of my very favorite applications. Here’s an idea:

Why doesn’t Spotify truly establish themselves as the most Artist-Friendly service, and offer a more expensive Ultra-Premium subscription (say, for $20 or $30 or $50/month more than the $10 they currently charge me), with the understanding that the incremental difference that I choose to pay (because I want to support the artists) gets paid out 80-90% directly to the artist/publisher?  I’d sign up for that in a heartbeat.  Much like I happily pay The Dish more than your asking price for the valuable and independent news content you provide, I would also happily pay a higher price to Spotify as a Musical Content Provider.  They would make more money, and the artists would make more money.

Bill Wyman was right: People will just flock to The Pirate Bay to get Taylor’s music virtually for free. (Frankly, she would have to pay ME to listen to that dreck, but that’s just a matter of taste, I suppose.)  But given the option to pay up a little bit and establish oneself as being committed to paying the artists for the art they give us, while still leveraging the massive benefits of a customizable platform like Spotify … well, that would be the best of both worlds. Digital distribution is never going away, the industry, artists and content providers need to work together more effectively to make the process work for everyone.

Another illustrates how Spotify helps the little guy:

My friend is the founder of a mid-market band and tackled this issue on their blog. As the sort of band that is most financially impacted with a lot less cushion than Swift, he seems willing to take the hit to build their brand:

Spotify has undeniably changed the consumption patterns of our fans…My guess is that Spotify turned a lot of iTunes downloaders into streamers. That certainly affected our bottom line and ability to recoup what we spent on the record. But far more people consumed our music which is the probably more important for long term growth of the band…To me, everyone that streams our songs for free (or pays a tiny amount to do so on Spotify/YouTube) would probably just not consume our music if their only choice was to pay for it. By giving them the chance to hear us for next to nothing we are (hopefully) creating a relationship with a fan that will result in financial support down the road.

I’ve heard this from other musicians struggling to break through. They see streaming as a means to building a fan base, while artists like Taylor Swift may see streaming as a threat to their hegemony in the music business.

Another sees a savvy strategy from that hegemon:

Taylor Swift is either an incredibly talented businesswoman and promoter at age 24 or has some really good people working for her. The two really go hand in hand. Taking her music off of Spotify was not about hating streaming. It’s not even about thinking music should not be free. If she had a problem with streaming, she would have removed her albums from other streaming services. Instead she targeted the largest streaming provider and got THEM to complain about it. Here we are a week after her album release still talking about her and bringing up how many albums she sold in the first week.

It’s an excellent publicity stunt, but considering she makes approximately $6 million a year from streaming on Spotify, it’s not one that will be continued too long. Every media outlet pushing this “story” has been providing Taylor with the best thing ever – free advertising that doesn’t even look like advertising.