Thom Yorke has taken a stand against the music streaming service Spotify, firstly Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich have pulled Atoms For Peace’s ‘Amok’ from Spotify, then Yorke removed his solo album ‘The Eraser’ from the platform, whilst tweeting: “Make no mistake new artists you discover on #Spotify will not get paid. meanwhile shareholders will shortly being rolling in it. Simples.”
Radiohead producer Godrich chimed in with his own tweets in support: “The reason is that new artists get paid fuck all with this model. It’s an equation that just doesn’t work.”
“The music industry is being taken over by the back door.. and if we don’t try and make it fair for new music producers and artists… then the art will suffer. Make no mistake. These are all the same old industry bods trying to get a stranglehold on the delivery system..
The numbers don’t even add up for spotify yet.. But it’s not about that.. It’s about establishing the model which will be extremely valuable. Meanwhile small labels and new artists can’t even keep their lights on. It’s just not right. Plus people are scared to speak up or not take part as they are told they will lose invaluable exposure if they don’t play ball.
“If people had been listening to spotify instead of buying records in 1973… I doubt very much if dark side [Of The Moon, Pink Floyd album] would have been made.. It would just be too expensive.”
Thom Yorke Has become one of the first major artists(along with Coldplay) to publicly stand up to the music platform Spotify, that apparently only gives a very small slice of its estimated income back to artists and labels for each stream. Is Thom right? Is he in a privileged position since his band were able to run a ‘pay whatever you want for it’ offer for their album ‘In Rainbows’ something many other newer acts might not be able to do. What do you think of Spotify? Is it a fair model sustainable for artists and label?
Further reading last year I wrote this about Spotify: “Whatever you stand on it Spotify has certainly added to the uncertainty about the future of the music industry and thrown more questions up in the air, yeah you can access all of this music and create playlists to share with your friends on facebook but what about the artist?
There are conflicting reports but there is one thing that seems certain if you don’t have anyone fighting your corner and unlike Last.fm that originally allowed a platform for unsigned and small label artists and seemed to work at a grass roots level allowing users to stream many tracks, Last.fm lost its way when the labels cut down on the amount of full tracks it allowed. But unless you’re a major player or on that handy ‘new release’ wagon wheel the chances are that your record may just get ignored on Spotify anyway? So what’s the point for you? Also with the sheer dizzing amount of music on the platform does it dilute the quality? Spotify has changed the goal posts for everyone and as the question of its sustainability moves into the distance the question still hangs in the air ‘what is in it for the artist and label? Well maybe the shift to ‘awareness spreading’ may be a shaft of light for the independent artist who will be ‘found’ alongside your Lady Ga Gas, Kanye Wests and your Frank Oceans. All existing upon this easy to use platform is utilized by a generation for whom buying music from quaint outlets like shops, will be a strange hardship and for whom Itunes is considered a ‘waste of time and money’ when your Spotify subscription is still unlimited and insufficient to bring together a database large enough to satisfy the veraciously listening habits of the Spotify generation. Also the increase in catalogue sales is heartening for artists who may have felt their time had been and gone, it gives you a warm feeling to think of some cult musician from the 70s receiving a small cheque in the post.
Spotify’s growth may just be the start of the next evolution in terms of consumption of music online. As we have seen of Internet platforms in the past they can quickly be usurped, last year’s Myspace is today’s Facebook, Bandcamp, Twitter and Soundcloud so maybe soon a new platform with a fairer model may emerge for everyone?! Maybe that’s where crowd funding comes in but the question still remains if you don’t have the platform or fanbase (like say Radiohead) to harness your music and propel it toward a larger audience will these initiatives fall into obscurity too ? (direct fan interaction is the way forward for the DIY artist/label whilst utilizing bandcamp or other direct streaming platforms as a way of monetizing their music).
While we rush headlong into a celebration of increased access and availability of a whole universe of ‘new music’ has this process really improved the quality of our listening? Or simply led to a gluttonous thirst for the shuffling the new, with all the impacts upon the strength of music, the turnover of artists and the quality of albums, as the need for artists to ‘hit’ you between the ears within the first minute becomes more important than developing their craft over multiple albums.”