This isn’t the topic that I had originally planned for my next blog post but after reading a few articles lately on Spotify getting bitched at by artists and labels alike for not paying out enough money, I though I would throw in my 2 pence worth, as a creative person myself trying to make my way in this world.
So one side of the argument centres around the Free-Tier of Spotify. It’s not the only part of Spotify to get flak, but one of the most common. So what is their Free-Tier, and how does it work? Well, Spotify is the only music streaming service that has a Free-Tier, which is paid for by advertisments, think of YouTube but for music. It’s no different from that really, the payouts are smaller per “hit” but considering the number of “hits” is so high, it kind of makes up for it.
The Free-Tier of Spotify is as essential part of the service, it enables people on lower incomes to enjoy music, with a few less features and lower quality (not that you’d notice), in return, they sacrifice some of their time and patience in listening to shitty adverts every so often. I hate the adverts on YouTube, but they work and I think the frequency of advertisments on Spotify is enough to not put people off listening all together, and also make revenue from it.
I’m not going to do any number crunching, as frankly I don’t give a fuck how much they earn, that’s the point in this blog post, but you can find out more yourself (possibly),
in this article
and in this article
Artists Are Giving Their Music For Free?
Artists are not giving their music for free, they are recieving royalties, and the main problem is that they are all dreaming of the huge payouts akin to the old ways of music distribution, when a top band released their new Casette / CD and everyone rushed out to buy it, making them millions in an obscenely short space of time, and that isn’t happening as times have changed. They are getting steady income over long periods of time, and on the plus side it’s also stopping people from pirating their music, why would they if they can listen for free anyway?
Don’t think for one moment that your favouirite artist is going to be sleeping rough on the streets any time soon because of Spotify, that’s just not reality. The fact is, they are fucking greedy and want too much from us, yes the people that buy their shit.
In An Ideal World
In an ideal world, and this isn’t one, and will never be one, anyone that creates anything from their own sweat and tears, deserves to reap the rewards easily. The fact is, it’s easier than ever to create and sell content of any media than it has ever been, from photographs, to music, to paintings, to software. All of them have their ups and downs, some more than others, and musicians do not have it the hardest, sorry but they don’t.
Musician vs Software Developer
I’m using the term “Software Developer” loosely here as the task of managing the entire life-cycle of a piece of software involves far more than just writing code. I’m going to give an example of what a musicians life is like now with Spotify, and then an example of what it would be like now if they had to do as much as a Software Developer…
Don’t take my time-frames too seriously, they are just estimates
- Artist decides to create an album
- Artist spends 12 months creating an album of 10 songs
- Artist spends 3 months in a rented studio, mixing their raw tracks to production quality, probably with help
- Artist spends 1 month creating artwork
- Artist distributes music on Spotify
- Payments trickle in
- Artist can now go back to step 1 and repeat or do gigs / tours etc.
Now if they were a software developer
- Developer decides to create an app
- Developer researches market and competition
- Developer tries to think of differentiator in their app to competition
- Developer thinks of a name and registers the domain names
- Developer spends 12 months writing the code
- Developer spends 3 months testing the app themselves and fixing bugs
- Developer creates website for the app
- Developer submits app to app store
- Developer fixes issues with submission
- Developer publishes app as a BETA product on app store
- Developer spends 3 months testing it themselves again along with anyone else they can persuade to help
- Developer submits “final” product
- Developer spends 6 months diligently responding to users feedback / bug reports, trying to get the product as stable as possible
- Payments trickle in if the app has advertisments or costs to download
- Developer then continues to support the app as long as it’s making money
- Developer can now go back to step 1 and repeat whilst still supporting any existing apps
I don’t know about you, but the thought of shitting out creativity and forgetting about it is really appealling, and for that reason alone musicians have it easy. They aren’t listening to their audience and changing their tracks, once they are mixed, they are mixed, no going back, they save their improvements for the next round, the next production / album / single. Developers can’t just release and forget, they wouldn’t make any money. They have to baby sit their creation until people are bored with it.
Don’t get me wrong, I think musicians (ones I like, and even the ones I don’t), do an amazing job and without music, the world would be a really boring place, but that doesn’t mean that the heavens should bestow them with riches without any real effort. I know a large percentage of artists do work really hard, but compared to all the other forms of artistry that are out there? I’m not so sure.
More to the point, stop fucking blaming Spotify! Thanks to Spotify, people on the other side of the world are listening to your music, people who would never have heard you before. People are listening to you because Spotify analysed someones music tastes and suggested they listen to you, and you’re moaning that you’re not rich yet? Which leads me to my final point, if you are already rich, such as Taylor Swift, you don’t have the right to comment here, according to you it’s “all about the music”, funny how that changes when your bottom-line changes.
Biting The Hand That Feeds You
Spotify is very much like an app store, but for music, they have the heavy and expensive task of distributing your product and targeting the correct audience. Trust me, you don’t want to pay for the bandwidth of streaming music to people at 320kb/s, or maintaining a catalogue of products to every country in the world. They don’t always do a perfect job, but without them we would be back to recording casettes in our garages and posting them to people (not that I ever done that). You have to adapt in order to survive in this era, but if you do then I’m sure the rewards are there.
Anyway, as usual these are my opinions only, if you don’t agree with me, comment / complain whatever, but I’m right so there…