If you’ve been keeping up with the entertainment news you should know by now that Taylor Swift pulled all her music from Spotify; all but her newest single, that is.
This might seem like a big deal and a massive blow against the streaming giants, but what does that mean? Is Spotify really that bad of a deal that the only platinum artist of 2014 decided to prevent her listeners to access her music via the service? The short answer would be: No, but also yes…
Stay with me here; Spotify pays what seems to be a ridiculously small amount of money per stream which is being viewed as pitiful and outrageous, devaluing all the work that any said artist has put into its craft. And while 0.6 cents per stream seems to be a terribly low price, people needs to remember that this is per stream, meaning that every time the song is played the artist effectively makes at least* 0.6 cents, putting that into perspective, a song needs to be played 167 times for an artist to make one dollar revenue, still outrageous, isn’t it?
Well, no, you see? In the specific case of Swift, there is a massive chance that far more than 167 people are streaming her music at any given moment, which means that she is basically making that dollar over and over again, all the time. Selling something has a tangible value but it’s a one-time transaction, after that people will be playing her music over and over having only paid that very same $0.99 and her bank account will stop receiving money after that (I mean, not really but… you get the drill).
It sparked my attention, however, that as soon as the news of all these stuff came up, some of the bands I admire and constantly listen to put their hands up in the air and claimed to be massive Taylor Swift fans because of this, and I stared at my screen with a face of disbelief because, well, for smaller bands and artist with a very specific niche market, Spotify (and music streaming services in general) is the right track for several reasons. Again, people acting against this are people who are still thinking that the current (and shamelessly outdated) business figure is still somehow standing strong and we all know that is as far from the truth as it can be; the current business strategy is still designed for baby boomers and not aimed at the new generation of on-demand consumerism, but also at people with lower income rates (Thanks Obama!) and not a lot of money to spare in buying individual albums or songs, and as much as it is nice to think that one day everyone will want to pay for things, it’s pretty obvious that that isn’t really the case for most people.
The biggest claim this year** that speaks against streaming (or in favour, depending on how you see it) is that Swift was the ONLY artist to go platinum in 2014, and there’s a chance that nobody will do it in 2015. Is it Spotify’s fault or is it the outdated business model?
Having access to almost unlimited music on demand for a relatively low monthly fee is an alternative that is driving a lot of people who were illegally downloading all their music only a few months ago to pay for the content they are consuming, thus making it more effective on the long run than selling albums.
Maybe the answer isn’t to boycott Spotify and instead creating awesome content that people will want to play over and over again! Maybe some artists should rethink what makes their art valuable and realize that the money flow is changing and that we’re back to square one, where artists and fans have a direct relationship, helping create a big commercial relation with their listeners. Maybe we all just have to become real people and stop pretending we are rockstars.
Make more music, make it awesome, talk to your fans and if you’re awesome with them they will buy all your swag, pins, stickers, Special Edition CDs, BluRays, Christmas ornaments and whatever you want to sell them.
My views on Spotify and its effect on the music industry
*Spotify says they pay an amount between 0.006 and 0.0086 per stream
** Article published before Swift’s latest release hit the shelves