A few weeks back, Andrew Dubber and I recorded a podcast, in which we talked about Spotify. A lot. I outlined in that some of the reasons why I’m taking my music off the service, and now that I’ve finally got round to it, I’ll write about them too.
It’s become de rigueur for labels and artists to take their music off the service, citing the low payout per stream as their primary reason. That’s not my reason.
Neither is it to do with their often eff-up metadata or the lack of control over artist bios and weblinks (though all three of those are massive issues they need to address).
No, my argument is simply a fair trade one, not a ‘this is best for my career’ one. In fact, I think I’ll probably, to some degree, lessen the chances of some listeners finding me. I’ve made it harder for those who share Spotify links to their favourite music to share my music (though not physically much harder, given that ultimately Bandcamp links are way more useful, in that they’re cross-platform, don’t require an app, never play you ads and will even create embeddable players when you drop them into Facebook, with integral ‘download/buy’ links.)
No, I have two main complaints:
- One, the service is at least part owned by the Major labels, who have a controlling say in how it all works, how the payments work, and who gets what.
- Two, As far as I can see, Spotify have just attempted to stay inside the law with regards to artist/writer payments, involving protracted negotiations with the rights orgs. At no point have they, as far as I can tell, made any offer to musicians over and above the absolute minimum. The reason it’s ‘as far as I can see’ is that Spotify won’t tell anyone what they pay. Their payments are obscured, and they defer to the labels saying that artists only get paid by the labels and collection agencies anyway. It’s bollocks. If they are paying x-amount per stream to the PRS, we should be told that. If there’s any more that goes straight to the distributors/labels, we should be told that too. To claim it’s ‘commercially sensitive’ just means ‘we’ve done a deal with the Majors that makes indie artists look like goons, and we don’t want them to know’.
This may well be because, as this article claims, the majors have it rigged anyway. It’s certainly true that anyone paying Spotify to listen to my music is also funding the Major record labels. Labels that I hope will cease to exist before too long.
So, I’ve pulled my music off there. Being there was doing me no harm, I’m not expecting to see an upsurge in sales, though thanks to the total absence of tracking data, I’ve never been able to see whether anyone bought my music after hearing it on Spotify.
IF you have been listening to my music on Spotify up until now, please feel free to go and download it from http://music.stevelawson.net- there’s loads more there than was ever on Spotify, with the correct titles and everything – it’s got artwork, sleevenotes, and your Spotify app will play it anyway once you’ve downloaded it. It just won’t be giving any money to the bastards who are trying to force insane legislation through the UK and US courts to ruin the internet.
(if at the time of reading you check Spotify and my music is still there, it just means they haven’t pulled it from their system yet. No need to tell me in the comments )