(Post via Josey Dunbar)Unless you're someone living under a rock, you know we've come a long from purchasing magical little devices called cassettes, CDs and Vinyl too. Now, I’m not saying we need to base modern life off prehistoric tendencies BUT suspend your disbelief enough to imagine a world where music hypothetically has more value than $0.006. $0.006. Thanks, streaming! Streaming is a powerful tool in the times we're in today. If it wasn't for Napster and PirateBay, none would imagine how else the music industry would have turned itself over to digitization where, practically, listeners today have a choice to consume all the music they like for little to nothing. Amidst all the noise surrounding streaming these days, we decided to zoom out ( just a tad bit) in order to get to the origins of one such a streaming service called Spotify (sure you've heard of the name before).
This whole evolutionary change (you know, the one where we demoted the value of art) can arguably be tied back to October 7th of 2008 in Stockholm Sweden. On this fateful day was born Spotify, a digital audio streaming device, developed and released by partners Daniel Ek and Martin Lorentzon. Contrary to popular opinion, Spotify’s foreign roots and sleek color scheme were not its sole motivators for success; rather, this was a result of excessive planning and a brilliant business model. Come summer of 2009 (less than a year following its official release) Spotify raised $50M in their second round of funding which was essential in the paying off of major record labels.
Not surprisingly, Spotify faced mixed reactions upon its release to the public. Its initial business plan massively underpaid artists and exercised the objectively suspicious need to pay off record labels who otherwise were unwilling to hand over their precious songs to be distributed to the public for practically nothing. Artists were the first to catch on to the consumer-heavy focus of Spotify’s business model: essentially underpaying musicians only to cut the literal value of music by 99.4% (which was revealed when Spotify later released a statement illustrating the payout per new streamer to be less than a cent).
Underpaying artists may be in the best interest of consumers (and happy consumers means a happy Spotify bank-account) however, is discounted music really worth the scamming of artists and overall wear and tear streaming has on the entire music industry? Many don’t think so. Artists and producers such as Thom Yorke, Taylor Swift, Nigel Godrich, and David Byrne spoke out against Spotify not only as businessmen and women fighting for economic equality but also as concerned lovers of the art itself with fear for streaming’s influence on its future.
“If Spotify reaches its goal of gaining a definitive hold on the new delivery system then another precedent will be set and the idea that recorded music is practically worthless will become normal.” – Nigel GodrichInfluence:
As it was so beautifully stated by Mr. Godrich (likely in a British accent), Spotify and streaming as a whole will continue to demote the worth of music so long as the literal marketed value of a song continues to drop so drastically. As profit brought in by music alone declines, labels must find other means of making money off of artists and the easiest way to do this is by “branding” a musician. AKA owning the artists’ names not merely their music; naturally leading to creative restrictions from labels. At the end of the day, music is music. It evolved into what it was 10 years ago and it continues to reshape into what it is today just as it will tomorrow and forever. There’s no way to stop a changing industry from growing but there is a way to help it. To aid it rather from becoming something you don’t want it to be. At the end of the day- you, the fan- have the most influence of all. What you choose to buy sells and what you don’t will likely conform to something you will. So make the change you want to hear, music as we know it is ours to protect.
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I'm a music business professional with an innate interest for music and subcultures! Nothing brings me more joy than to hear about people's newest music obsession, I can tell you I am currently digging a lot of OK Go.