Reasons to Abandon Spotify That Have Nothing to Do with Joe Rogan
It’s right to see Spotify suffer, at least in the short term. The Swedish streaming provider has promoted a version of track distribution that runs counter to the interests of active musicians. It can pay out an average of 4 tenths of a cent per stream, meaning that one thousand streams bring in around $ 4. This link has provided major labels and superstars with large revenues while decimating the incomes of smaller musicians – an ideal embodiment of the neoliberal economic system in which the winner takes all. Various artists have tried to get on Spotify over the years; Neil Young is the first to probably do actual damage to the company. He requested the deletion of his track in response to the spread of Covid 19 misinformation by podcaster Joe Rogan, who has a licensing deal with Spotify reportedly worth a hundred million dollars or more. Joni Mitchell joined in, proclaiming that “irresponsible people are spreading lies that can cost people their lives.” Even Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have “expressed their concern.”
As welcome as the protests are, they no longer address the essential injustice of the streaming economic system. Young said remarkably little about Spotify’s pricing in his statement, though he did grumble about audio quality. He urged fans to focus on his track on Amazon and Apple Music, where payouts to artists are high but no longer lavish. Ross Grady, a fixture on the North Carolina track scene, got to the heart of the issue on Twitter, saying, “I think it’s great that people are looking for alternatives to Spotify, and I do not know how to explain to them that it’s neither moral nor sustainable to assume that for $10/month you have unlimited access to all recorded tracks.”
Of course, the problem Young raises is current and serious. Joe Rogan has argued that “healthy” young people should not get vaccinated against Covid-19; he has advocated the use of the anti-parasitic ivermectin against the virus, and he has claimed that Covid vaccines increase the risk of myocarditis. Epidemiologist Katrine Wallace has called Rogan a “public health threat.” Over the weekend, Daniel Ek, the billionaire CEO of Spotify, promised to offer “content advice” for Covid podcast discussions while falling back on a predictable defense: “It’s important to me that we do not put ourselves in the position of a censor of content.” The big tech companies mechanically hide behind the rhetoric of free speech when something terrible is said or done on their platforms. It’s a cowardly activity that Shoshana Zuboff brilliantly touches on in “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism.”
Ek is a quotable villain, but the trend on Spotify falls squarely into a familiar American pattern: instead of addressing systemic problems, we evaluate moralities in terms of the misdeeds of individuals. One wrongdoer falls, another rises, and the path remains the same. Young has made a quantifiable sacrifice: without Spotify, his royalties will fall, though he may receive compensation from children who approve of his stance. Are customers willing to make sacrifices as well? The magic of Spotify lies in its convenience. You can access almost any track you want at any time. Apple Music gives you just as much choice. What if, in order to help the musicians you care about, you had to abandon the concept that every single track must be available on demand?
There’s no turning back now. One of the greatest sins of the Internet generation was the unconventional devaluation of musical performances that accompanied the rise of Napster. A couple of generations grew up with the expectation that you do not have to pay for music. This generation’s morality concerned the misdeeds of file-sharing networks, long known for exploiting musicians and responding to record sharing by suing students. Goliath was defeated, and music was liberated. But the major labels quickly retaliated. Napster was shut down, and more business-friendly arrangements took its place. Apple’s iTunes, which was first to market, was more than honest about settling scores with artists: If you own your masters, you might get seventy cents on the dollar. But it ripped tracks out of context and reduced physical recordings to data packages. Spotify ended the cycle of devaluation by reducing payouts to almost nothing and erasing creative identification by applying its infamous algorithm.
Singer-songwriter and writer Damon Krukowski, who has been my streaming guide for a decade, promises a scalding hot summary in today’s newsletter:
Spotify has used the monetary version of arbitrage to acquire a cheap, if no longer free, product – virtual tracks – and resell it in an entirely new context to generate revenue. In other words, Spotify requires for its revenue that the virtual track has no price. Spotify usually talks down the price of tracks on its platform – they make them available for free; they tell musicians that we are lucky to get paid anything for them; they insist that without their provider there can only be piracy and 0 revenue.
On top of that, Spotify, like various types of streaming, is harmful to the environment and consumes more energy than the distribution structures of earlier eras.
When file revenue plummeted, artists have been informed that they can nonetheless make a respectable income from touring, merchandising, and so forth. Ek gave a bit of similar sage advice in a 2020 interview, “You can not release a title every 3 to 4 years and think that’s enough… It’s about incorporating the imagery, it’s about the storytelling on the album, and it’s about constantly talking to your fans.” He went on to say that artists should emulate Taylor Swift, who reached nearly 98 million streams in a single day with the release of “Folklore.” The message is obvious: To thrive in the streaming generation, all you have to do is gain such a gigantic, oxygen-sapping reputation that a paltry 4 tenths of a cent can become a lot of hundreds of dollars. If you have a lot, you can give more. The coldness of common sense was clearly demonstrated when the pandemic stopped travel and wiped out the people who made their living on the streets.
Spotify, like Facebook and Amazon, has the advantage of being indispensable. No matter how much people hate the provider, they can not imagine life without it. Those who have thrown away their file collections will not go back to buying character albums. This cycle of dependency and addiction is at the heart of Big Tech’s dominance, along with the old familiar argument of technological fatalism: delivery is inevitable, resistance is futile, and the empire always wins. Odium, however, can also encourage political action. The Union of Musicians and Allied Workers has made incremental progress with its Justice at Spotify campaign. In the UK, a parliamentary inquiry into the economics of streaming music was launched in 2020, and a UN protocol includes a bid for a mandatory streaming fee. In the meantime, there are fair options: Bandcamp, Resonate, Ample.
You can also apply the old-fashioned component and buy an album. I just wrote about Stephen Hough’s amazing recording of the Chopin Nocturnes on the Hyperion label. Hyperion is certainly one of the few labels that have stayed away from the streaming world; they do not even participate in adagio, a provider that offers classical music. Simon Perry, the label’s director, told Strings magazine, “Everyone reads how wonderful streaming is for the file business. It’s not now. We spent £1.4 million last year just making the recordings. I was given the opportunity to generate the revenue to pay for the sound. If I switch to streaming, there’s no way I am going to pay for it.” On Twitter, Hough gave a more specific reason for his album’s absence from most streaming services: “We had to pay the piano tuner :-).”
How Social Distancing Has Changed Spotify Streaming
As people have become more introspective in recent weeks, we have seen how listening to tracks and podcasts has changed in many ways.
For example, fewer and fewer people are streaming from their cars, and more and more are streaming from home. Instead, more and more people are streaming from devices like laptops, TVs, smart speakers, and game consoles. There is also a boom in playlists about cooking and housework, showing that people often specialize in their own circle of relatives and domestic duties, rather than titles meant for gatherings. Self-development podcasts (e.g., health, meditation) are also experiencing an upswing.
In the mood for more? Read on for a few more streaming trends we are seeing on Spotify, based mostly on listenership from March 19-25, when much of the arena stayed home. (Before you ask, yes, streaming of The Police’s “Do not Stand So Close to Me” is up more than 135% in the last few weeks- an important reminder to keep a distance of 2 meters from anyone not in your household).
Informational podcasts are a popular hobby.
Knowledge is power- and Spotify listeners are honestly sticking with it. We have noticed that interest in information podcasts has multiplied. That’s why we created a COVID -19 hub to help our customers discover everything in a single place. Listeners already have podcasts like Coronavirus: Fact vs. Fiction (CNN), Coronavirus Global Update (BBC), and Do Not Touch Your Face (Foreign Policy). The Gimlet display Science Vs also features some recent episodes on the COVID -19 outbreak.
Parents play tracking and podcasts for their kids.
Right now, moms and dads are facing a whole new challenge: making sure their kids are safe and entertained- and maybe even helping them explore – while they try to do their own chores. For this reason, we have seen a boom in streaming content for kids and families, especially titles that help kids fall asleep. In fact, both children’s shows and classic shows have seen an increase in the last week.
Check out some of the best playlists and podcasts that moms and dads are streaming for kids.
Listeners are in a particularly “chill” mood.
During this time, we have also observed that the songs Spotify listeners are adding to their playlists are particularly “chill” – that is, they are particularly acoustic, less danceable, and have a lower volume than songs added earlier. Additionally, the tracks tend to be instrumental and include gadgets rather than vocals. Looking for your very own quiet inspiration? Check out the numerous playlists on our Chill shelf.
Playlist collaboration and social sharing are bringing people together.
We have seen a boom in collaborative playlists this holiday season, which allow people to connect over shared tracks and host digital jam classes together. (In case you did not know, here is an academic video on creating your own collaborative playlists to get you started). Spotify customers are also sharing more content than usual on their social networks, so their friends and fans can see what they are listening to from afar. Learn how to share your music of the moment on Snapchat or Instagram.
Artists who Livestream their performances are seeing a surge in listenership.
Now that stays are shifting, many artists are hosting live digital shows online. Afterward, listeners go to Spotify to hear the artists, giving them a comparable boost to artists who are usually only seen after live shows. James Blake, Indigo Girls, Ben Gibbard, Chloe x Halle, Code Orange, and Jewel are just a few of the many artists who have seen a surge in streaming numbers so far.
Podcasts and playlists help people stay healthy and nurture themselves.
Listeners are taking time for themselves and making their fitness and health a top priority. Last week, more people listened to podcasts in the Health & Fitness and Lifestyle & Health categories. Customers also streamed more podcasts with the words “cooking” or “recipes” in the title or description. In terms of playlists, customers are developing and following more exercise playlists than a month ago, and streams of running, yoga, nature, and meditation playlists are up.
The songs people sing on balconies are boosting streaming.
In Italy and Spain, people are singing a common song from their balconies and windows, mostly in honor of health care providers and emergency responders. Two of the songs sung in Italy are highly popular: Streams of “Abbracciame” increased 820% on March 13, and streams of “Azzurro” increased more than 715% on March 14. In Spain, streams of the 80s track “Resistiré” (I Will Resist), about the duo Dinamico, rose more than 435% from March 15, after movies of the event circulated on social media.