Why Do Major Artists Have Opposite Views On Spotify?
What about this, Spotify detractors? And I am specifically addressing to renowned artists who have removed their album from Spotify like Atoms for Peace. As Iman already mentioned it, Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich recently removed their last album from streaming services and protested on Twitter about the unfairness of the system for the artists, tweeting that Spotify only favors the major labels . The Black Keys had a similar reaction, when they didn’t put ‘El Camino’ on streaming services, and are they other artists who are not on Spotify? Plenty! The Beatles, AC/DC, Led Zepelin, Metallica, Pink Floyd and Radiohead, of course.
On the other side, you have artists who embrace the system, and I am getting to my point: Jay Z (with no more hyphen as I have heard) put his new release ‘Magna Carta Holy Grail’ on Spotify, and the album became the US’s most streamed album in one week! In total, it was streamed 14 million times, beating Daft Punk (9.5 million) and Mumford & Sons ( 8 million), even beating the record of the most streamed album in a single day in Spotify history. Wow!
I am not talking about emerging artists, this is another problem, the artists previously cited are all well established, and beyond, but why are they reacting in such opposite ways?
Spotify artists’ labels receive $0.005 per play, thus that means Jay Z’s label (meaning himself) received $70,000 so far, not bad for a week but it’s an insane amount of streams. ‘Amok’ did very well, it sold 50,000 copies and hit number two on its first week, so it would certainly have generated some revenues on Spotify, difficult to estimate how much and it would not have been in the same ballpark than ‘Magna Carta’, but with the sales and the concerts the Atoms for Peace guys are financially fine. Actually, if you read Godrich’s long statement about Spotify, he insists on the fact that ‘new artists get paid fuck-all with this model’,… new artists, that’s the key, does this imply they are boycotting Spotify more by solidarity for new artists than because of a lack of revenue for themselves?
Godrich and Yorke are accused everywhere to go against progress, Spotify is there, and like any other inexorable change in technology, there’s nothing we can do. At this point they look like two medieval knights striking swords into water, what difference will it make if ‘Amok’ is not on Spotify when customers can listen to a collection of billions titles? But it would be so strange to identify Yorke as someone anti-future,… remember about this pay-what-you-want Radiohead album?
By embracing the system, which works just alright for him, Jay Z reinforces his capitalist view of the world, but by caring about new artists and denouncing the unfairness of the system, Yorke and Nigel are the socialists and rebels of this world. They will probably lose, especially when even Radiohead’s manager is defending Spotify, but it doesn’t mean they should not try.