What do YOU think? Take the quick 3-question survey here.
If you live in Europe or read MMT, you have probably been using or hearing about Spotify for a few years. Spotify landed in the US on July 14, 2011, with the free version available by invitation only*, and premium versions available immediately for $4.99 or $9.99 per month. (All the features you want are in the $9.99 version.)
Spotify is the celestial jukebox done right: over 15 million tracks available on-demand and almost instantly, with 320 kbps streams available for some songs (more on that in a future article). Apple is notoriously tight-lipped, so who knows what they will be offering later this year. But iCloud and the iTunes Match service (as announced) look feeble by comparison.
Not everyone is thrilled. You won’t find Arcade Fire on Spotify, or any of the usual suspects: Metallica, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin. And some artists who play nice with the other streaming services have pulled their material from Spotify, complaining about the fractions of a penny paid per stream.
The income streams to the artists are affected massively and therefore that accelerates the downward spiral, which eventually will lead to artists not being able to record music the way it should be recorded. Ultimately, in some cases, it will completely kill a lot of smaller bands that are already struggling to make ends meet.
While the major labels and pop music may be able to reap a real income stream from Spotify simply due to the sheer volume of streams, the Spotify model is not financially sustainable for any indie niche label. As the industry moves more in this direction (competitor Napster, for example, only yields slightly more, about 1 cent per stream), it will simply choke the indie labels out of business.
Spotify responded by saying they were “launched out of a desire to develop a better, more convenient and legal alternative to music piracy. Spotify now monetises an audience the large majority of whom were downloading illegally (and therefore not making any money for the industry) before Spotify was available.”
What do you think? If you have been using Spotify, take the survey and let us know how you feel about it as a musician, or as a listener.
*If you haven’t tried Spotify yet, you should. Although they still require invitations, it looks like they’re now being sent as soon as you request one. If not, Bob Lefsetz still has some available here, or email me and I’ll send you one. Get on it!