The Streaming Music Hullabalo

The Streaming Music Hullabalo

Opinions on streaming services continue to thrash about.

Strikes me as growing pains with legitimate points on both sides. My 2-bits are at the end. To start, a round-up:

July 2013:

  •  Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich pull their music from Spotify: on Pitchfork

    Godrich: “The reason is that new artists get paid fuck all with this model. It’s an equation that just doesn’t work.”

  • Spotify responds: on Rolling Stone

    Company ‘100 percent committed’ to being artist-friendly

  • Godrich continues: in WSJ

    Catalogue and new music cannot be lumped in together. The model massively favors 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.’

  • Lefsetz chimes in: Lefsetz Letter

    Streaming won. Kids watch music on YouTube. Over.

  •  Dave Stewart says Yorke & Godrich were misinformed: in The Guardian

    “They were misinformed. I think they just suddenly got a bee in their bonnet, because Spotify is one of the few companies that is transparent and actually pays properly – as a songwriter you should worship Spotify, because they’ve come along with a solution.”

Next wave October 2013:

  • David Byrne: in The Guardian

    The boom in digital streaming may generate profits for record labels and free content for consumers, but it spells disaster for today’s artists across the creative industries…

    I’ve pulled as much of my catalogue from Spotify as I can…

  • Dave Allen disagrees, is prompted to reply: on North

    The Internet and Spotify (or any other streaming music service for that matter,) are not to blame for musician’s problems. It is hard for me to understand why intelligent men like David Byrne and Thom Yorke, along with David Lowery, do not appear to understand that we are in the midst of new markets being formed. I would also add that many journalists and media commentators don’t understand this phenomenon either.

    It is not about technology; it’s about systems and societal shifts. It’s also about music business bubbles. I must also point out that I have been wrong in my thinking and writing about Spotify in the past. After much debate and a reappraisal of my own stance, I have concluded that we can only look to what Internet and mobile users are doing or want to do, and then note how their actions drive technologists to provide platforms for them. Put very simply, that is how markets work.

  • Justin Coletti points out that Daft Punk is making much more from Spotify than what Byrne says: on Trust Me I’m a Scientist

    Byrne: “For perspective, Daft Punk’s song of the summer, “Get Lucky”, reached 104,760,000 Spotify streams by the end of August: the two Daft Punk guys stand to make somewhere around $13,000 each.”

    Coletti: This is simply not true. To start, try multiplying that number by ten.


Coletti also brings up the topic of buying music from within these streaming services. And that ties into my two bits:

Spotify is not available in Canada yet. (I suspect that our Performing Rights Org – SOCAN – is in negotiations with them.) So I have not seen the interface (only screenshots), but I get the impression there are no links to purchase tracks or Merch or Concert tickets from inside the Apps. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.

Byrne and Allen have the opinion that with streaming, there is no motivation for listeners to purchase anything. I disagree. Passionate fans of music often want to purchase something from artists.

Limited release items, T-shirts, and other goods to identify and experience more with their favourite artists. I don’t think that’s gone away or is going away.

Streaming services need to make it easy for the listener to purchase things from the Artist. That’s one of the ways you become more “Artist-Friendly”.

I was surprised and disappointed by the vibe of the Spotify, BBC Playlister, and Deezer representatives in this video. Very little mention of the artists – the very people who are supplying the content for their services!

Chris Maples from Spotify says (at 12:30):

Our main driver is delivering music to people and helping people discover both new music and also music they’ve forgotten they love.


But if your “main drivers” also included a focus on what’s best for your content creators, I think you’d have fewer upset artists pulling music. You’d have more artists championing you as well.

Help your content creators have the ability to easily sell things to their listeners.

With the people we see on their team, I hope and suspect Beats Music is going to get this right.

UPDATE 10/27:

Zoë Keating makes the point I’m trying to make and expands it constructively.
“Who owns the data?”
From 3:30 onwards in this video:


UPDATE 11/06:

Some progress?! –


And another interesting post from Dave Allen:

The latest addition to the anti-technology list of musicians is the well-respected T Bone Burnett, who in a Halloween-inspired fit of pique, said in a Hollywood Reporter article titled: T Bone Burnett vs. Silicon Valley: ‘We Should Go Up There With Pitchforks and Torches.’

UPDATE 11/07/13:

Some wisdom from Billy Bragg via Music Geek Services:


UPDATE 12/06/13:


Beatsmusic is launching in January 2014.

Spotify has announced integration with Topspin, and launched an Artists-oriented website:


And here’s another good commentary piece on the whole situation.

UPDATE: 12/8/13:

Redefining the Digital Music Service Starts Now” by Tyler Hales

UPDATE: 12/9/13:

Peter Gabriel in Rolling Stone Magazine:

I use Spotify to listen to lots of music, and your albums keep disappearing and re-appearing. What’s going on with that?
I have a problem with Spotify. It’s a great service and I love being able to get anything anytime. But they made a deliberate decision to get in bed with the record companies. They gave them equity positions, which means they can make payments to them without paying the artists. I have a fundamental ethical problem with that. I wish they were just a little more respectful to the artists. They are making all these deals, but the payments are so minuscule and way out of line with what the record companies are making. Twenty, thirty, even fifty years of hard-won compensations and rights are being lost. It’s not critical to successful artists because we can make money from live shows, but younger artists are going to have to start taking other jobs. . . Bono and I met with [Spotify CEO] Daniel Ek. He was as nice enough guy and I understand they have to keep their stockholders happy. I think at times we’ve pulled my albums. I’m not really following it. But I would like to see other artists get together and demand something different. There are some other alternatives that I can’t talk about yet, but I’m looking at them right now. I hope some other means arise where artists can get income.

UPDATE 12/18/13:

Dave Allen on Spotify for Artists.

UPDATE 12/20/13:

Disappointingly, Johnny Marr seems to be joining the anti-streaming services side.

UPDATE 1/2/14:

Ari Herstand: “Why Thom Yorke and Digital Music News Are Completely Wrong