Old People Are Still Mad About Spotify
Are we really still arguing about Spotify? I thought this whole debate was settled last summer when Century Media came crawling back to Spotify with their tails between their legs after steadfastly and stubbornly pulling out of the service and berating its business model in a very public manner a year earlier. Metal Blade Records too returned to the service, at least in part, after pulling out around the same time as Century and then, smartly, keeping quiet on the whole thing. It’s plainly obvious to most folks by now that Spotify, and services like it, are the future. Don’t fight the future.
So I thought this whole debate was over. But no! A few days back Radiohead’s Thom Yorke made major news when he announced that he’d be pulling from Spotify the new album by his Atoms For Peace side project, slamming the company for fattening shareholders’ wallets at the expense of the artists. And since then a whole host of artists have responded to Yorke’s ridiculous claims, among them Machine Head’s Robb Flynn, who has in the past been a vocal supporter of Spotify and of new music technology in general. His comments came via his series of journals, although the post appears to have been pulled. Here it is anyway via The PRP:
Thom Yorke from Radiohead went on a big rant about the evils of Spotify the other day. It was so random and out of the blue it was a total WTF? It’s funny how Spotify has come to represent the bad thing for (it seems) older people… er uh, people my age *ahem*.
In fact I was talking to a buddy out here on Mayhem the other day, and he was telling me about a bands new record I should check out, and I was like “oh yeah, thanks for the reminder, I’ll have to Spotify that,” and he gave me a little shit like “oh man, you gotta go and ‘buy’ that shit,” and I was like, ” I AM buying it, I got Spotify Premium, they’re getting money off my stream and if I love it, I’ll most likely buy it on iTunes, but dude, I’m on tour, at an amphitheater in the middle of nowhere, when am I going to buy that shit at a store? That most likely doesn’t even carry said record?”
That’s the beauty of Spotify. I can get music in an instant, no waiting, no trips to the store, literally within 30 seconds! For 10 bucks a month!! Shit, I spend 5 times that on fucking coffee which doesn’t do jack shit for me!!
See what getting old does?
It makes you scared of the future. It makes you scared of what other people may think of you, it makes you scared to adapt, when really, the only thing that will allow us to survive is adapting. When you’re young, you just don’t care, you’re gonna rebel, you’re gonna do your own thing, you want to find about the “newest thing”, you’re willing to give things a shot, and if it sucks, you’re quick to ditch it, but if it’s great, you tell everyone you know.
Do I ever miss being 22? Hell no! I was a cranked-out, tweaked-out, heavy drinking, gun-toting, idiot without a car! I don’t need to be young again! I’m better now than I’ve ever been but most importantly I don’t “feel” old. I don’t want to be like Thom Yorke thinking Spotify is a scary thing. The world changed, and that’s a good thing.
Disturbed’s David Draiman, whose opinion on Rolling Stone’s recent decision to put the Bostom bomber on their cover was somewhat questionable, came down on the right side of the Spotify issue via Twitter (and, for once, not in ALL CAPS!):
In response to the recent hubub over Nigel Godrich and Thom Yorke pulling their new Atoms for Peace record from Spotify, I have the following to say.
The days of the hard copy product have been over for quite some time. All artists these days are dealing with a frustrating situation when it comes to generating revenue and awareness of our respective projects, wether they be new ones, or established.
Make no mistake that the reason for the current state of reduced revenues for new artists is piracy, and NOT Spotify.
All artists who actually write their own songs have publishing royalties. Those royalties, unless your songs become hits, are minute, compared to the profit generated from mp3 sales or hard record (cd/vinyl) sales. We’ve known that and dealt with that all of our careers. Would any songwriter out there be looking to divest themselves from the publishing infrastructure and risk loosing the potential revenue that can come from the spins a hit song generates? Of course not. Spotify is simply an alternate form of potential revenue stream much in the same way publishing royalties can be. It was never meant to be a replacement for the old retail infrastructure, it was meant to make Piracy obsolete by providing an amazing online service, at a reasonable cost to the user/music fan. You cut off Spotify, and you are cutting off your nose to spite your face.
If you really want to take issue with someone, take issue with the license holders of your songs and the rate you’ve contractually negotiated with them, not Spotify. Unlike streaming entities like Pandora for example, Spotify has never attempted to try to further limit license holders royalties in favor of a larger profit margin.
The level of awareness generated by Spotify for new artists, having the engine searching your existing playlists and tastes, with the right Spotify applications such as Spotify radio, can bring your music to the ears of millions of new potential fans that just random placement on some bittorent site would never do.
You can’t fight the future or the advancement of technology, it is pointless. There are those who have tried to cling to an antiquated retail infrastructure, that have quickly become extinct before they ever even had a chance to thrive. Do not try to coerce a new generation of fledgling artists into a stance which would be incredibly counter-productive for them, and their development of their respective brands/music.
In closing, Spotify has given us a platform to finally combat piracy on a real level, created an entirely new and separate revenue stream, and brings us closer to the potential fans out there that are truly thirsting for what we have created in an efficient and economic manner.
Would you rather the world simply steal your music?
And finally, Gizz Butt (oy) of British metallers The More I see — they of the mediocre music video shot on Tatooine — has also spoken out against Yorke:
In the late ’90s, Radiohead were the alternative band that I loved the most; so much so that they influenced much of my own songwriting between 2000 and 2003. Reading Thom Yorke give the thumbs down to Spotify could be relevant to my band, The More I See, as yesterday our three-track EP was ‘launched’ through Spotify, so hearing about profiteering shareholders and unpaid new artists could make me anxious, no doubt. However, we are in an era where people need introductions in new ways. It’s not gonna happen through listening booths in HMV and it’s not gonna happen through John Peel. Not anymore.
I’ve already made purchases from recommendations which I checked out firstly on Spotify and then I made my purchase. Online, of course. Today I asked a young guitar player, 14 years old, ‘Have you heard of the band Radiohead?’, to which he replied, ‘Who?’ You can guess that would be the answer from a generation that are ignorant of The Sex Pistols, The Clash and even Joy Division! Would you say rock is dead? Try saying that to Guns N’ Roses and Black Sabbath — and they are most certainly on Spotify.
Thom Yorke gave us an idea that it may work out to ‘give your music away.’ We tried it with our second album. Biggest mistake I’ve ever made as an artist. So now Thom says ‘Veto Spotify!’. Tell you what, ‘Yorkie’… I’ll trust my own instincts, OK.
It’s a major drag that very famous people like Yorke are still coming down on the wrong side of this issue, but at least there’s a whole group of musicians who can see logic and reason and draw conclusions for themselves. It’s a different world out there now… adapt or die.