Atoms For Peace @ Pohoda Festival 2013

Atoms For Peace have pulled all of their music from Spotify. “Someone gotta say something,” Nigel Godrich tweeted this morning. “It’s bad for new music.” Thom Yorke has pulled his solo album The Eraser from Spotify as well. Read the band’s explanation via Godrich’s Twitter below.

Anyway. Here’s one. We’re off of Spotify. Can’t do that no more man. Small meaningless rebellion. Someone gotta say something. It’s bad for new music. This is just Eraser and Amok and Ultraista. 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. Meanwhile millions of streams gets them a few thousand dollars. Not like radio at all. Anyway. Thems the breaks. Opinions welcome but discussion and new thinking necessary. If you have a massive catalogue – a major label for example then you’re quids in. It’s money for old rope. But making new recorded music needs funding. Some records can be made in a laptop, but some need musician and skilled technicians. These things cost money. Pink Floyd’s catalogue has already generated billions of dollars for someone (not necessarily the band) so now putting it on a streaming site makes total sense. But if people had been listening to Spotify instead of buying records in 1973 I doubt very much if Dark Side would have been made. It would just be too expensive. Anyway thumbs hurting now… ;)

Yorke added, “Make no mistake new artists you discover on #Spotify will not get paid. Meanwhile shareholders will shortly being rolling in it. Simples.”

UPDATE: A spokesperson for Spotify responds (via MusicWeek):

Spotify’s goal is to grow a service which people love, ultimately want to pay for, and which will provide the financial support to the music industry necessary to invest in new talent and music… We want to help artists connect with their fans, find new audiences, grow their fan base, and make a living from the music we all love.

Right now we’re still in the early stages of a long-term project that’s already having a hugely positive effect on artists and new music. We’ve already paid US$500M to rightsholders so far and by the end of 2013 this number will reach US$1bn. Much of this money is being invested in nurturing new talent and producing great new music.

We’re 100% committed to making Spotify the most artist-friendly music service possible, and are constantly talking to artists and managers about how Spotify can help build their careers.

UPDATE 2: Godrich has responded to Spotify’s response (via P4K):

So Spotify say they have generated $500 million dollars for ’license holders.” The way that Spotify works is that the money is divided up by percentage of total streams. Big labels have massive back catalogues so their 40-year-old record by a dead artist earns them the same slice of the pie as a brand new track by a new artist. The big labels did secret deals with Spotify and the like in return for favourable royalty rates. The massive amount of catalogue being streamed guarantees that they get the big massive slice of the pie (that $500 million) and the smaller producers and labels get pittance for their comparatively few streams.

This is what’s wrong. Catalogue and new music cannot be lumped in together. The model massively favours the larger companies with big catalogues. They need the new artists to be on the system to guarantee new subscribers and lock down the “new landscape.” This is how they figure they’ll make money in the future. But the model pays pittance to the new artist right now. An inconvenient fact which will keep coming up. I feel a responsibility to speak up when I see something going on which I think is unfair. I’m not bitching about not getting paid. It’s about standing up for other artists’ rights. It’s up to streaming providers to come back with a better way of supporting new music producers. It’s not for us to think up how it could work. That’s your department.

UPDATE 3: Radiohead’s co-manager, Brian Message, has spoken out in support of Spotify. And Godrich has responded.

First, Message’s statement. Per Line Of Best Fit:

Speaking to the BBC last night, Message said that he saw Spotify “as a good thing”, adding that “streaming services are a new way for artists and fans to engage … As a manager of Thom I obviously sit up and take note when he says, ‘Listen guys we need to look at how this works.’ It’s a healthy debate that’s going on right now. He’s rightly asking the question of, ‘What’s in this for new music and new artists?’ I think we’re all debating this. [But] as the model gets bigger I think we’ll find a place where artists and managers and all creators can all receive what they regard as equitable remuneration.

“It’s not black and white, it’s a complicated area. There’s been over 20 attempted reviews of Copyright and how it operates in the internet era, and there’s been no satisfactory solution to it. The bottom line is, technology is here to stay, and evolution of technology is always going to go on. It’s up to me as a manager to work with the likes of Spotify and other streaming services to best facilitate how we monetise those [platforms] for the artists we represent. It’s not easy but it’s great to have the dialogue.”

When Pitchfork tweeted this update, Godrich responded, first with an accusation:

And then, a slight retraction.

This one is not over yet …

Comments (43)
  1. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • As much as I’ll admit it isn’t the best model from the musician standpoint, I will say it is damn useful.
      Sure I have my own mp3 files on my computer, but do you understand the insane amount of music they have on Spotify? I mean, I own all of Arcade Fire’s stuff so no need to have a program for that, but what if I want to listen to really obscure motown music, or random small indie stuff that doesn’t stream and I’ve never heard so I don’t just want to buy right off the bat? What if I don’t make enough money to buy all the music I want to hear and I’m not comfortable pirating all of it (not saying I never do)? I have a pretty eclectic taste and I don’t ever stop discovering something new I like; there’s just no way I can have an ipod that has everything I’m going to want to listen to. It basically fills in for radio since I’ll never hear something like Savages or Deafheaven on there.

      • What is the best model to support new music? I go to a lot of gigs and will often buy the $10-$20 cd to support a new act. I use to spend a shitload of money buying albums on itunes (average cost in Oz is about $20 per album) but am sick of being ripped off by the itunes”australia tax” of which the artist sees nothing.
        Where should I buy my music guys?

        • I’d imagine buying CD’s, or better yet a digital copy of the album directly from the record label’s website (assuming they ship and whatnot to Austrailia) would cut out the most middlemen and generate cash for the band.

        • I’m a big proponent of listening to the audio however it takes, but really committing to spending the money I save through things like Spotify and pirating on concert tickets, merch, and records. I will admit I’ve never paid for a Bright Eyes album, but I’ve gone to two of their concerts. In the end I figure more money goes to the artist for touring and things like that so it’s better off that way, and like I said before, there is no way I can afford (now and likely ever) to pay for every single thing I want to hear.

          As far as how to buy an album if you want maximum profit for the band, I saw an article in the Village Voice about how the band makes about 80% of a album purchase at a merch stand at a show, only about 20% if you buy on something like iTunes and even mp3s from the band website (obviously excluding things like bandcamp), and it’s split about 50/50 if you buy the album from a store.

          To summarize: I am a terrible person who justifies his pirating and Spotify-ing by going to shows and buying some records when I feel too encumbered by my wallet.

      • Pretty much this. Generally, if I like something, then I’ll go out and get it.

        Also Spotify makes a lot of sense for me as a way to quickly juggle files around via streaming through my sound system, phone, computer, etc. I’ve started using Amazon Cloud lately and, again, that works great for stuff I own, but sometimes I just think of a song and it’s a lot easier to look it up on Spotify rather than go through all the hoops to steal it.

        Further, I don’t know if you work in an office that allows you to listen to music, but I do and Spotify has basically been a lifesaver for no other reason than that. I don’t have to carry over and import my sizeable/huge music collection from home and waste work computer space, yet I can still listen to (mostly) whatever I want and stay sane throughout the day.

        Also, honestly, the playlist sharing stuff is pretty cool.

        Is it probably pretty shitty for new bands? Yeah, probably, but it’s still gotta be better than just pirating their stuff, and I always try to buy stuff when I can if I like it, but I think streaming services are far from archaic and have lots of uses; they can be really flexible.

  2. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

    • Touring costs a ton of money. I remember reading an interview with Zachary Cole Smith said that a lot of DIIV’s tour actually lost money. Admittedly he also said they were poorly managed, but I’ve read in dozens of articles that tours frequently leave musicians in debt – especially if they’re not making a lot off of record sales.

      • DIIV and Radiohead are so vastly different in their size of fanbase, etc, etc that your point is rendered useless.

        To respond to Alberto Cadiscos, it’s not about them wanting or making more money, because they are already extremely successful. The point is they don’t want to be undercut and taken advantage of by a service that would benefit more from having their music than they would having it up there.

        • Well duh. But the fact that Godrich explicitly stated that the move is to protest the fact that streaming services screw over new bands (like DIIV) is relevant. Obviously Radiohead could never tour again if it suited them, but bands that haven’t sold millions of records don’t always have the luxury of touring to guaranteed sold-out crowds to make up for a lack of record sales, hence the problem with streaming services.

    • This comment sucks.

      It’s like chiding movie producers for wanting to sell DVDs: “Wanna make more money from Pacific Rim? Fair enough, take it to Broadway!”

      To insinuate that artists don’t deserve to make money off of albums is asinine. Albums are arguably the most valuable form of media that we consume, and yet, people seem to undervalue them the most. I use Spotify as a necessary evil, but I still purchase a ton of music and try to find other ways to support artists. I hope you do too.

  3. Hidden due to low comment rating. Click here to see

  4. Awesome move. If Spotify gets solidified as the new model, that will kill off tons of good music. They don’t pay shit.

    • i remember seeing a thread on reddit recently where someone made a song that got over 100K listens on spotify and youtube, and over a million on pandora, and he/she got paid out like 50 bucks. play devil’s advocate all you will, that just seems fucked on a very basic level.

  5. Spotify is sort of a consensual piracy anyways, and so I think they have the same moral quandaries – sure, it seems pretty justifiable when you’re just doing “research” or “expanding your horizons”, but how much do you have to love an album you’ve listened to for free before you buy it? And if you’ve already fallen in love and gotten over it, why bother? Is actually paying for music then just a holier-than-thou gesture?

    At the end of the day, people only have so much money/time to invest in music – if that gets divied up in a way that leaves out a bunch of great bands, well… tragedy of the commons right there. If every band and record label and IP decided to go all Atlas Shrugged on our ass, maybe we’d reassess the value of music in our lives and bid a little higher…

    Or maybe not.

    • I think, “Go all Atlas Shrugged on our ass” is the perfect way to describe what’s going on with some artists. Spotify as a component part of a music “business model” works very well as a method for consumer sampling. It’s always been tough for indie artists to make money (which sucks, but is largely unavoidable), so I think everyone blaming streaming services as the new cause of the purported decline of the music industry is sort of disingenuous.

  6. I don’t like Spotify just as a piece of software. It’s a resource hog, the interface is confusing, it defaults to launch at startup, the ads after every 3 songs are irritating as hell, it has a tendency to crap out and/or run like shit over wifi, etc.

    But I am definitely an old-school “I like to own my mp3 files” type of guy (as old school as an opinion on digital music can be, I guess). I tried Slacker Radio for a while but I didn’t like its algorithm or its interface and I found myself almost never using it. As far as making sure artists get paid, I’m a fan of Bandcamp.

    Bandcamp supports many different file formats, the interface is clean and simple, it lets artists choose which tracks can be listened to without paying, and the money goes directly to the artists’ Paypal account (minus BC’s 15% cut). That seems fair to me.

  7. I think it should be stated here from a global perspective, that basically everyone is struggling to keep lights on or find success as a new artist, business, employee, college graduate, etc. Music is just another casualty of war. Businesses are either dying, downsizing or adjusting to a new economy and the blood in the water is Spotify taking necessary advantage of the dwindling wallets we as consumers are carrying in our back pockets these days. You can’t fault their biz model and Yorkes right, their actually losing money….for now. If I love music but just, say, received a pay cut at my job, then a few bucks a month to listen to all that’s new and old in the music is totally my avenue now. Unlimited musical access for a month that’s equal to the cost of one iTunes DL? Sorry starving artists, but I gotta get in on that for a little bit.

    Now, its noble for Radiohead to stand up for the right of fellow musicians, but really people, this isn’t some ‘patriotic’ effort to stand up for the alternative music world. I don’t disagree with the fact that they are certainly fighting for a cause, don’t get me wrong. They just simply saw loss on the P/L and said, “We’re out,” which is the way they should roll. Remember, this is a band that instituted the ‘pay what you want’ program for a CD so they gotta a pretty good beat on how to market themselves on their own, I bet. Now, I’d be very curious to see what sorta fallout Spotify gets from this. Hopefully, it ignites a flame that creates a new way to restructure the way bands are getting paid out because essentially that’s the real rub…harnessing this new approach to music listening that helps the artist and not hurt them.

  8. First, a positive Spotify story.

    I don’t use it, but one of my good friends does and has been discovering new music rapidly. He’ll call me up and ask me about bands I haven’t heard of, some I have. Most notably he was gushing about this band called Beacon. He liked them so much, he ordered their album on vinyl (I wish I knew from where) and gave me a copy to play on our show.

    So it’d be nice if that’s how the vast majority of Spotify subscribers operated. Discover new music, then when you find what you like, go buy stuff from that band. I’m hard pressed to believe that Beacon received anything greater than $10 from my friend after going through the above, and I wish there was an easy solution.

    I’ve seen a few decent routes taken by artists in hopes of making a little money out of releasing music. I still like My Bloody Valentine’s approach with making their own Web site, bundling their album as a vinyl/CD/mp3, and selling it themselves (I didn’t notice a record label printed anywhere on the album). Now they’re going on tour. In the past 10 years we’ve seen bands have to do more and more themselves. I think that making their own site and selling their own music is one route to take.

    Then you have Run the Jewels…
    Before going into what they did, let me clarify something about “In Rainbows” album release that commonly gets overlooked. Everyone refers to it as the “pay what you want” album, but that wasn’t the whole truth. There was that option, or the pay 40-60 quid (I forgot the specific) for the deluxe album box with the vinyl and CD plus bonus cuts. That translated to about $80 in America, and I have this gut feeling that I wasn’t the only one that coughed up the cash in a heartbeat. That is a CRUCIAL aspect of how Radiohead banked off that approach in 2007…

    Now, El-P & Killer Mike released their album for free this year. It also, surprisingly, didn’t leak. In the lead-up to its release they made note that there would be a limited pressing of the album on vinyl. I jumped at this and noticed they had a bunch of other cool merch to get on the site. Not just that, you could buy the vinyl in different bundled forms. I recall Of Montreal doing something like this in 2008 for Skeletal Lamping, but I still think it’s a good idea. I ended up getting the priciest Run The Jewels bundle because, hey, that’s a nice ass weed grinder with a keef box in the bottom! Annyyywwwaaayyyy….

    Then there is Jay-Z’s route of selling your album straight-up to the highest bidder. Remember in 2007 when we said that only Radiohead could do a “pay what you want” release because of their fame? Or when NIN did the Ghosts release and we said it’s only because he has a fervent fan base that will always support him? Well, here we are again with Jay-Z’s “new” business model. I’m not ruling out the idea that in as little as four years time, we’ll see more famous musicians use corporations to sell albums. Because the way I see it, MBV & RTJ did exactly what NIN & Radiohead did respectively a few years back.

    In closing, (why did I bury my initial point…) Jay’s release did something sort of unique. He got paid to LEAK his album. That’s my thought. The album leak is a part of music culture now (see: Premature Evaluations) So there HAS to be a way for small artists to profit on leaks. Wouldn’t you pay money to hear an album before it comes out? Oh shit, Pitchfork Advance ruined that… THAT’S why I buried this thought. Oh well, carry on.

    tl;dr I think we need to discuss if what My Bloody Valentine & Run The Jewels did to sell albums could work for others.

    • Good points (I made a simliar one below as far as listen then pay).

      The leak thing is touchy though. Problem is still with the new artists. I wouldn’t pay to hear the leak of an artist I knew nothing about, would you? Artists with a deep enough fan base won’t have to worry about these things obviously. But the old business model banked on ignorance or the casual fan, which had people buying entire albums out of curiousity. But the internet has weeded out the vast majority of the casual fans, and also spoiled us with the option to “check stuff out” before buying. I think no matter what, being a new artist is going to be hard. Bands just don’t cash in like they used to, and the only way to get the hardcore’s to invest is by getting your name out there by every means possible.

      In other words, I miss the 90′s. I think Thom does too.

    • I thought that the business model NIN’s Ghosts worked out successfully. Regardless of what kind of NIN fan you were, there was a price point package for everyone. Having said that, I don’t think that NIN’s model is a sure fire way to acquire a fan base. To do that successfully takes an obvious amount of dedication and….and…..I lost my thought,

      -But I digress.

      • It did work, but I was focusing on how it wouldn’t work for your average band.

        Apparently it didn’t work well enough for Trent either, since he’s now back to a major record label.

        For the record, I have a deep devotion for NIN.

  9. I rarely use Spotify, but I enjoy being able to check out new bands (or old bands) and see if I like them. As a listening resource I think its crap, but as a discovery resource, it’s no different than youtube to me. If I find an artist I like, my money will then go towards their albums or live shows in the future. So they end up getting my money anyway.

    On principle alone, I respect this decision of Thom and Nigel’s. It’s “small meaningless rebellion” as they said. But a good way to perhaps influence change of Spotify as a business model.

  10. It takes one brave man to start a revolution against those corporate bastards. Let the war begin!

  11. My tiny little mind is incapable of understanding the underlying economics of the situation, but… How is an obscure and less listened to artist on Spotify being paid less than the big guns with far more plays any different to to an obscure and less listened to artist selling less records than the big guns selling in the millions? Like I said, I’m an idiot and will never understand economics.

    • All bands on Spotify get paid tiny amounts, whether it’s a tiny fraction of a thousand plays or of a million plays, it’s still TINY. Not as big a problem for big artists b/c they have other revenue streams, but small bands need all the money they can get.

  12. I love spotify, and would be willing to pay more for it if it meant that artists were receiving a fairer dividend. I also think the majority of spotify users are probably those who used to illegally download music, and I certainly fall into that category. The way we discover and acquire new music has to move with the times, otherwise people will just source it illegally, and I think spotify almost hits the nail on the head.

  13. I’d love to see greater transparency about how money is exchanged by internet music services and musicians. I’d love to see some actual reporting on how this stuff works, rather than just seeing that this artist objects and that service defends. I don’t use Spotify, but I don’t know if the services I do use are any better. There is so much proprietary secrecy around revenue streams at the companies that make music available on the internet that even though I pay for subscriptions and have entirely avoided pirating music I don’t know if I’ve actually been supporting bands. I also don’t know if the music blogs I read pay or receive money from the music services they use. What is Stereogum’s relationship with Soundcloud, for example, and how does Soundcloud pay the bills and the artists? I hear that most streaming services are not making a profit, and that should be addressed too. If they aren’t making money because they can’t make money, they’re just waiting to be acquired. That can’t be good for diversity.

  14. I would suspect that a number of people here use Spotify/Rdio the way that I do: Listen to as much new music as humanly possible, and support the bands you feel compelled to support (most recently Speedy Ortiz). Admittedly, although I consider myself an ardent music fan, I haven’t really reflected on the moral and economic implications of my Rdio subscription.

    That said, Thom’s argument seems predicated on the assumption that if Spotify didn’t exist, then more money would end up in the pockets of new artists. But I don’t know how true that is (I’m not necessarily disagreeing — I honestly don’t know). If I didn’t have Rdio, I might buy marginally more music, but I would probably listen to a hell of a lot less, and so I don’t know really know if it would be better or worse than the current state of things.

    As for the underlying economics, I would look at it this way: The technology sector is wonderful (it’s the sector in which I’m gainfully employed), BUT! A lot of tech companies are able to raise capital on the assumption that they’ll be profitable “IN THE FUTURE.” Because of this, they can do things that seem ridiculous, like try out new business models at a loss for a bunch of years, years that would bankrupt a more traditional enterprise like a restaurant or a factory. If we assume consumers are better off because Spotify/Rdio exist (a reasonable assumption, since they wouldn’t be paying subscription fees if they weren’t), then either these companies are converting investor surplus into consumer surplus, or turning an entirely different group’s surplus (i.e., new artists) into consumer surplus.

    We benefit, but if Spotify/Rdio are still unprofitable (which I am assuming they are), and they’re still operating, then someone is necessarily losing. Thom would argue that the people losing are new artists, and he’s closer to the ground than I am on these issues so I might even take him at his word.

    A little economics and finance for your Monday afternoon.

  15. I use Spotify A LOT. I pretty much figured artists were not getting paid, but it still sucks to hear it detailed out.

  16. 1. Lots of paying customers of Spotify used to pirate all their music for free which gave you zero profits before. 2. Spotify is still not making any money. 3. Spotify is not the major problem with new artist not making profits. That problem existed before streaming radio websites. People just don’t buy full albums like they used to.

  17. it has gotten better

  18. When did small bands and new artists ever make money? Indie artists have been scraping by since the beginning of music. I understand that Spotify/Rdio pay outs aren’t very good and need improvement, but they are powerful discovery tools. I am much more likely now to get turned onto a new band because I don’t have to shell out 10 bucks just to try it out because if it sucks I’m out 10 bucks. In that model, I am more likely to listen to established artists and never discover the smaller bands.

    I’m not involved in the music industry, but it seems to me that the role of record labels in this situation gets overlooked. They are the ones who negotiate the terms with Spotify, so if an artist has an issue with the payouts they get then they shouldn’t take it up with their label, not Spotify?

  19. Both AFP and Yorkes solo material are produced on XL. Capitol is linked to everything up through Hail to the Thief. Aside from In Rainbows, which should be considered off the grid regarding this debate because it was “self released,” everything associated with Capitol including the ridiculous amount of Collector Editions are sure as shit gonna stay put on Spotify, that’s fo sho.

    My point is this: I don’t see any alligator arms from Capitol pulling the Radiohead catalog away from Spotify or Pandora because, well, vested interest, obviously. It’s essentially XL that’s probably stomping their feet and waggin their finger at these two streaming sites because they want their money godammit or their picking up their toys and going home. Spot and Pandora are probably whatever dude! We got Radiohead! Go take your Atoms side project and Yorke solo’s…we don’t need them, really. Now, it’s quite noble of Godrich, Yorke and now the manager to fight for the artists rights, but really, this is just a lot of hot air and now even a slight degree of back peddling entering the fold, I think.

    Now, if Thom were to happen to take Radioheads next album, self release it again and refuse the stream sites access to it, well then now we gotta ourselves a cat fight!

    There my Gummy friends, is “The Beef.”

  20. Is stereogum’s opinion about the matter embodied by that incredibly grizzly pic of Thom?

  21. Right. Money = art. Got it. If you take the money out of art, then everyone will go live with John Gault in his wonderful Ayn Rand paradise. Please. I hope everyone realizes that art and music existed LONG before its corporate sponsors, and will continue long after they shoot themselves in the foot on the internet. Mark my words. Everyone is looking for a paycheck tomorrow, when ultimately, this model will free musicians from oppressive labels and let little guys that would have never otherwise been a heard have an audience. Spotify will make it’s money, but Spotify is operating the portal. When we get some musicians who are also technologically savvy, and have it in them to free music from capitalism, then we’ll see more independent artists and less BS mega-bands in spandex grinding on a microphone stand. Music has lost it’s roots in culture and expression through capitalism (did you notice the difference between the 60′s and 80′s?)

    The rational egoist thinks that pulling their music from Spotify will either prove their point and get their demands filled, or collapse the medium because the big huge awesome bands aren’t on there. I think that as the rich bands disappear, new and more creative bands will take their place. World keeps spinning. I love Thom and Atoms, and their misguided opinion on this matter will not change that. I just wish these big “artists” would think a little bit further down the road to the GOOD possibilities and not just the immediate loss of revenue from people not paying to simply listen to your “art” EVERY TIME. It seems like musicians have clearly accepted the corporate model of short term profits over long-term growth.

    • Agreed. How much longer are people going to insist on this 20th century mindset about music. No, I don’t care if nobody can afford to make product behemoths like Dark Side or OK Computer anymore. It’s the songwriting and imagination that counts. When I pay for music I don’t want to be paying for it’s massive advertising and related record executive’s wages.

      Two words: stadium rock
      Good riddance (fingers crossed)

    • Sorry, meant to place my long-winded comment below as a reply here. xo

  22. “art and music existed LONG before its corporate sponsors, and will continue long after they shoot themselves in the foot on the internet. ” – Very true.

    ” this model will free musicians from oppressive labels and let little guys that would have never otherwise been a heard have an audience.” – Well, kinda…

    Like most of Ayn Rand’s beliefs, your’e touching on the naive ideal that the market will fix itself…but that’s not necessarily how it actually plays out in the real world. Models like Spotify will make “oppressive labels” go away? The reality is in a lot of industries – like this one – the big oppressors are the delivery service for the product to the consumer so no matter what medium technology spawns, they’ll still have a hold on it. As Thom Yorke was saying (and I’ll be the first person to say that a handful of things he and Nigel were saying is not accurate), the big oppressors actually benefit most from a model like Spotify. Sure, anyone can now post music to Spotify and be heard without a big label’s support; a great thing. But guess who floats to the top of the page with sponsored highlights, not only there but generally speaking? The artists who’s label has the resources to afford it. So maybe no one’s making a dime off of music soon (it’s almost like that now anyway) and artists will depend more on revenue from touring, merch, etc. Well, here come the big labels again…they’re still be the ones with the resources to market to the masses, promote and finance tours, provide better margins on merch, etc. This model won’t make big labels go away…it’ll just make making money off of selling the actual music go away.

    You’re right that this whole model is shooting the industry in the foot…it’s similar to how cheap labor and materials in China means bigger margins for companies and lower prices for consumers. Everybody wins, right? Nope…now because of that trend, more and more people are without manufacturing jobs, we owe China tons of money, and more people are reliant on cheaper goods; a vicious cycle.

    It just sucks for music that inherently, it’s an art medium that can be duplicated. The source recording isn’t sold, copies of it are. So naturally, the advancements in technology (and most of us appreciate them; it allows us easy access to music we love) brought about situations like this. It’s no longer an industry where the creators and distributors of goods are paid for their goods, either directly by the customer or by a retailer that then sells the goods for a margin to a consumer base that owns a copy of the goods…it’s now an industry of exposure, where for the most part, the goods aren’t bought by the customer or the retailer; the consumer base (or some marketing partner) pays simply for the portal to have access to the goods temporarily.

    Big labels aren’t automatically evil and small labels aren’t automatically victims. I think we should also keep in mind that corporate music did indeed exist in the ’60s and very much so in the ’50s, as well. If anything, the ’80s and beyond actually brought about more opportunities for independent labels to exist, not the other way around. It was almost impossible to get significant exposure as an artist in the ’50s and ’60s without the support of a major label.

    Bach and Beethoven had sponsors paying their way, too…

  23. Every person who calls themselves music lovers should love it enough to keep it going. Musicians have to eat, buy gas, pay bills, ect… We love it that people want to listen to our stories told through song, but there has to be a balance that keeps us funded to do what we love. We write these songs and barter them to you for the high that comes with your being touched emotionally in some way, but we catch a ton of shit for continuing to be “unsuccessful” in our profession. You spend more on a cup of coffee at Starbucks and it’s gone in less than an hour. -BG

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