Artists, if you loathe Spotify, start your own streaming brand (Op-Ed)
When exactly did Spotify become the enemy? It’s impossible to place an asterisk on the calendar, though the bile has been rising for some years.
As the biggest player on the block, and a brand that’s become shorthand for music streaming, Spotify is under intense scrutiny. More so since it debuted on the New York stock exchange.
Artists, almost universally, are furious with Spotify. They’re pissed at the paltry royalties they receive, and the enormous earnings of its founder and CEO Daniel Ek.
Gary Numan says one of his songs generated got a million streams, and he got a cheque for £37.
Creators are furious with each story of “fake artists” undercutting their tiny piece of the pie, of 9-digit sums handed over to right-leaning podcasters, and with the tech giant-turned-Big Brother wannabe, by patenting a technology that uses speech monitoring and analysis to curate personalised recommendations for its users.
Writing in The Guardian, The Charlatans’ Tim Burgess called for the streaming model to be fixed. “If a whole generation of musicians goes to the wall, no one wins,” he wrote.
So some years, the narrative is that Spotify, essentially, is giving away music to 320 million people, while the suits get filthy, stinking rich. And they’re constantly exploring new ways to shaft creators.
True story: Spotify is not the enemy. The real enemy is, and always has been, free. Nada. Zilch. Music for nothing.
That was very nearly the reality.
Prior to iTunes, Spotify, YouTube and all the “legitimate” streaming businesses which exist today or died a digital death, the recording business was sliding into a vast, growing chasm. It was seriously ugly.
Compared with the state of the industry 10 or 15 years ago, today is like a refreshing golden age.
Spotify has made missteps, and it almost certainly won’t achieve its core mission of a million creators earning a living from its service. It’s a business, and its business is built on music.
One truth of the Internet age is that nothing is too big to fail. Another, is that opportunities are there for the picking, if you have the energy, the right business plan and the team to get it done.
Artists, do your thing. If Spotify keeps you up at night for all the wrong reasons, collaborate and build a new platform. Start an “Australian Made” Bandcamp, owned by artists, for artists. Or a SoundCloud with a revenue model.
Get creative. Find backers.
The existence of Spotify and its rivals tells us that people are willing to pay for tunes. There’s almost certainly room for others in the game, with a point of difference.
If all that seems too hard, consider a remark made by Nelson Mandela back in 2001, when the rot set in for the record business: “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”
This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.