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Spotify review part 2: response to accusations of being “grossly misleading”

By Hanna Silver

Apparently, someone from Spotify has read my review and has called it “grossly misleading”. They told me to look at spotifyartists.com , so I did. I read the section on how artists are paid, and have not found anything contrary to what I have written – only that it is spun differently. Whilst my article looks down upon Spotify’s shitty payouts from the artist’s point of view, their corporate website is written in an ALL HAIL OUR GOD, SPOTIFY, SAVIOUR OF MUSIC sort of way. One must be careful to realise that the entire website is trying to sell you something.

Currently, Spotify pays artists less than 70% of their total revenue. (On their website, they say “nearly 70%”. See how you can spin things either way?) They argue that as their subscriber numbers increase, so will the amount they will pay artists. They say this:

“Recently, these variables have led to an average “per stream” payout to rights holders of between $0.006 and $0.0084. This combines activity across our tiers of service. The effective average “per stream” payout generated by our Premium subscribers is considerably higher.

Again, we personally view “per stream” metrics as a highly flawed indication of our value to artists for several reasons. For one, our growing user population might listen to more music in a given month than the month before (resulting in a lower effective “per stream”), while generating far more aggregate royalties for artists. As with any subscription service, our primary goal is to attract and retain as many paying subscribers as we possibly can, and to pass along greater and greater royalties to the creators of the music in our service. Theoretically, another service could generate higher effective “per stream” payouts simply by having users who listen to far less music. We believe, however, that our service and the lives of artists will both be best if the World’s music fans enjoy more music than ever before in a legal, paid manner.”

Spotify are a corporation. If their business model cannot pay artists what their music is worth, then it is a flawed business model.

Imagine the food industry suddenly told farmers, “from now on we will only pay you one hundredth of what you were paid before.” Gradually, farming would cease to be a viable business. And then our food would come from where? How could it be made so cheaply, if the return is only one hundredth of what it once was?

Music is a basic human right. Fund the artists who make the music you love, so that they can keep doing it. Don’t fund the man who tells you you can have all this music because it is “legal”.

-Hanna Silver
hannasilver.bandcamp.com
theprinceofseagulls.bandcamp.com
youtube.com/astrobic

Spotify review by Hanna Silver

I’m going to go ahead and start with a TL;DR (“too long, didn’t read” for anyone not down with the lingo type speak). Because I have one clear message I’d like to send out about Spotify.

Spotify is great (provided you are not an audiophile who can’t stand mp3s), but you should choose to not use it. Artists are paid fractions of peanuts for listens.

I’m a musician, so this issue is close to my heart. I had to ask myself, if I’m comfortable streaming tv and film, why am I uncomfortable streaming music? It’s because when I watch tv and film, I usually only watch it once, and never again (or not for another 10 years). Plus, in tv and film, production companies pay their cast and crew respectfully for their hours of work, before distribution.

But with music, the revenue generated from sales is an important part of the artist’s income. I tend to seek out music that I love and then listen to it over and over and over again. Then put it away, pull it out a few months later, listen again, and so on it goes.

If you find someone’s music on Spotify that you like and you listen to it, they are getting less than between 0.6 and 0.84 OF A CENT per track play. Spotify says this is what they pay rights holders – so in most cases, the record label gets this money, takes a cut, and gives what’s left to the artist.

You just need to ask yourself, do I love this artist? Do I wish they would make more music? If the answer is yes, THEN GO AND BUY THEIR MUSIC. Musicians need to eat and pay the bills. Translate your love and appreciation into financial support for the artist, not a fat CEO. How much do you pay for a drink at the bar? If you were able to meet an artist or band you love, would you feel honoured buying them a round of drinks?

To conclude my rant and really start the review, here are some links that further discuss Spotify’s payment system:

Ok, so, what does Spotify have to offer? It breaks my heart that they don’t pay artists enough, because their platform is SO GOOD. I can’t deny that for many people, streaming is the future, and Spotify do it so well.

You can either pay for Spotify Premium ($10 in the USA, $12 in Australia per month. There’s even a $5 US student discount), or use Spotify for free, with some differences in service. The biggest differences are the ads you’ll hear on Spotify free, and that it only plays in shuffle mode in Free. Spotify offers a 30 day free trial of the premium service.

You can build “your own music library” – save artists, albums and tracks that you love, so you can find them quickly. If you have Spotify Premium, you can make playlists available offline for yourself on your device (seriously, how is this legal??). You can listen to Spotify either on your mobile with the app, or on your computer through the app.

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The streaming quality is not great, so if you prefer to not listen to mp3s, give Spotify a miss and stick with your wav files, CDs and vinyl. (mmmmm, vinyl….) From their website:

“Spotify uses 3 quality ratings for streaming, all in the Ogg Vorbis format.

  • ~96 kbps
    • Normal quality on mobile.
  • ~160 kbps
    • Desktop and web player standard quality.
    • High quality on mobile.
  • ~320 kbps (only available to Premium subscribers)
    • Desktop high quality.
    • Extreme quality on mobile.”

You can log in with your Facebook login, or with a new username. If you login with Facebook, sure, Facebook has more information to use and sell about you. But you’ll get to see what all your friends are listening to! And they can see what you’re listening to! 😀

There’s also plenty of suggestions from Spotify of what you might like. Particularly as you do searches and add things to your “library”, it makes suggestions: “Because you like this guy, you might like that guy.” You can also listen to pre-prepared playlists, for example, music playlists designed to help you sleep, study or exercise.

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And you can make your own radio station based on an artist you like.

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As you listen to a radio station, you can “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” tracks played, so Spotify improves the station based on what you like.

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I don’t know about PC or Android, but I can tell you that with Mac and iOS, the music controls are integrated with your iPhone and Mac. So on iPhone, you can swipe up the control centre and control Spotify playback from there. On Mac, you can use the music control buttons on F7, F8 and F9.

You can follow artists or playlists, and then see what they have been listening to.

Those are the main functions that you want out of a service like this. There’s more, but I won’t go on about them.

So try Spotify if you want, but let a feeling of guilt follow you as you listen to tracks on the service. Because, what’s the one thing Spotify provides you with? And WHO gets the millions…???

FIND PART 2 OF THIS REVIEW HERE


Find Hanna in these places:

hannasilver.bandcamp.com
theprinceofseagulls.bandcamp.com
youtube.com/astrobic

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