Music is the most universally emotional device in the world. Whether it’s a first world country full of technology or a tribe of indigenous people with a bunch of handmade drums, music plays a role in their culture. There’s something about music that allows people to connect to emotions. Whenever I’m feeling nostalgic, I put on The Early November.
With that being said, it’s obvious that the music industry is a multibillion-dollar industry. But the question remains, how do these companies get music into the listener’s hands? Since there is so much money involved, the market is plenty saturated. The mainstream methods of my youth were CDs. One would go to their local Sam Goody, Hastings, or Best Buy and pick up the album of an up and coming artist on a Tuesday. However, that has changed drastically.
In 1999, Napster was created to allow anyone to file-share music. Due to the legal infractions on copyright, it didn’t last long. Fast-forward to 2006, Spotify was founded. Rather than file sharing, Spotify allows listeners to stream music on an ad-based platform or pay up to $9.99 for an ad-free listening experience on the go with access through smartphones.
This seemed like a great outlet for artists to get exposure through digital distribution and to make a little money on the side. You can find pretty much any song from any artist on there. However, there have been mixed reviews about whether or not this is good for the music industry.
Taylor Swift pulled her music from Spotify last year. She believes that Spotify is robbing artists of money and squashing creativity. Swift told Business Insider, “I’m always up for trying something. And I tried it and I didn’t like the way it felt. I think there should be an inherent value placed on art.” She went on to explain that streaming has greatly decreased the amount of money artists can make.
Daniel Ek, CEO of Spotify feels differently about their distribution model. Ek explained in an article that “Our whole reason for existence is to help fans find music and help artists connect with fans through a platform that protects them from piracy and pays them for their amazing work.” He continued stating that the real enemy is piracy. Piracy is how listeners are stealing from artists. Spotify has paid out $2 billion dollars to artists since it’s inception. That’s compared to a whopping $0 that piracy has contributed.
It’s clear that Spotify has paid out artists compared to other venues like Pirate Bay. But there is some shady stuff going on. Last week, I was feeling nostalgic again and I tried to pull up Hawthorne Heights to only find that it has been removed from Spotify. In anger and frustration, I began to blame Victory records for removing their artists from Spotify.
After a little digging, I found that Spotify is allegedly the one to blame at this point. The record label was quoted in a Rolling Stone article saying, “Victory Records’ catalog of music was pulled from Spotify last night [Monday] as a result of Spotify not properly paying publishing revenues due to Victory Records’ artists in blatant violation of US Copyright laws.” However, it came out that Victory records is not paying their artists and holding all the profit. Spotify will likely resolve this issue with Victory Records once they make some form of agreement to pay out artists properly.
The way people are receiving content whether it is movies or music is evolving into a streaming method. Ek said Spotify is not only streaming, but mainstreaming. It will affect content creators regardless, but is it wise to go against the grain? Ironically enough, the week after Taylor Swift pulled 1989 from Spotify, it was the number one downloaded album on Pirate Bay.