Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Feature: In Defence of Spotify

The online streaming giant Spotify have recently unveiled that they pay out $0.007 per stream. The figure represents the 70% that they pay out to rights holders, although the money is presumably diluted through a series of publishers, record labels, suits and toilet cleaners before the artists themselves see anything.

Spotify have recently come under a double-pronged attack from Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich, with the Radiohead frontman commenting that 'new artists get paid fuck all with this model'. Despite this, Spotify bosses have claimed that a 'niche indie album' typically generates $3,300 in monthly income, with a 'global hit album' earning the record label $425,000 a month. 

But sidestepping the ongoing debate about the financial rewards of the music streaming service for a second, are these music industry figureheads missing the point somewhat?

Let me explain. First off: I'm a huge fan of Spotify. I pay £4.99 a month (thanks to my, ahem, expired student card) and I can access an extensive, global catalogue of music, with a few obvious exceptions (I'm looking at you Floyd, Led Zep and Beatles!). As soon as a new album is released, or even before it comes out in some cases, I can listen to it in its entirety, on a sort of try-before-you-buy basis.

"But the artists aren't getting much money for that!" I know, I know. But thanks to Spotify, I've bought albums I would never have bought before, because I've had the chance to sample them first- and I don't mean the crummy, utterly useless 30-second iTunes samples either.

But that's not all. I can listen to these new albums, then browse around the 'related artists' section and discover even more music for my listening pleasure. 'Spotify' is a blend of 'spot' and 'identify' after all. Man, I've found absolutely tons of new music this way. This blog probably wouldn't be in existence if it wasn't for Spotify- I just wouldn't know about albums that other people might not!

So do these rewards not outweigh the supposed financial imbalance that many accuse the streaming service of? I, and many others I'm sure, would never have discovered so much great music without Spotify, and these previously unknown bands might still be hiding away in a dark corner of the internet without it. It's like the Facebook of the music industry! Ok, that's slightly hyperbolic, but the point remains.

I've written before about how I feel that any way you discover new music is fine by me- and this is just another of those methods. Sure, artists might not receive their full entitlement from the streaming service, but can we not appreciate Spotify for what it is? As long as I can keep spotting and identifying new music then I'm happy.

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