Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Spotify: What to think?

The moment I started paying $10/month for Spotify Premium, my non-conscience-based incentive to buy CD's dropped to roughly zero. For instance, when I was visiting family in Chicago I discovered a great jazz saxophonist named Ari Brown. While listening to him, I looked him up on Spotify, and found the same album he was selling there at the show. That scared me, because it brought home the impact that disincentivizing must have on the artist. So I made a point to buy a copy of the CD later. Even though I had no intention of playing it. I wanted to support his work.

Lately I've been discovering a bunch of female jazz singers on Spotify, and again... no incentive to buy their CD's. Which makes me think I should be buying their CDs. I figure that if no one does, then there's no way the Spotify model is sustainable, which means independent artists can't possibly make a living.

But I had a conversation yesterday that made me even more angst-ridden. Someone pointed out that Spotify gives the musician publicity, and that musicians have always made most of their money from concerts, and merchandise sold at concerts. The artist makes virtually nothing from CD sales, except for those at the concert.

So what's a guy to do? Should I even be worried about Spotify at all? And if I am worried about Spotify, what can I do in lieu of buying CD's? Make a direct contribution to the artist? I don't know of any commonly accepted means by which to do that. It would be awesome if someone made a "Spotify Offset" app, which would give the user an option to pay an additional $10/month distributed proportionally among, say, the ten artists they listen to the most, but I don't see that happening.

1 comment:

Aquahart said...

Here's an analogy - imagine that you, as a code-writer, were asked to write code which would be used publicly, with no limits, no compensation to you (except maybe $.0001 for each use), with the only benefit to you being the "exposure" that it would provide to you. People would discover what you do, that you are good at it, that you create a useful/entertaining product, and they would be able to use/enjoy/employ that product whenever and wherever they want to. Hmmmm, why is it that artists and musicians create a product that is thought to belong to everybody, and the artist is entitled to no compensation for their product? Perhaps because some people don't really believe that "musician" or "artist" is a sustainable vocation, but rather just a fun creative hobby that is enjoyable to share. True that musicians gain validation and pleasure when their music is enjoyed and responded to by listeners, but they need to make money for what they do, especially if they are to continue to do it. Example: Dave & Emma (my personal favorite bluegrass/Americana band) had over 1000 streams on Spotify recently which resulted in a payment of $2.70. I'm glad that you as a listener, with a conscience and sense of awareness, are having this conversation with yourself and with others. Unfortunately, most consumers are just thrilled to get something for free (or nearly free) so why bothering questioning it?