Skip to content

streaming

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.

spotify pic

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.

IMG_1897IMG_1892IMG_1894

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

IMG_1901

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.

IMG_1919

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

Quickflix Australia review by Hanna

It was revealed recently that Australia has the highest rate of illegal downloads of Game Of Thrones. The overwhelming response is, well, what do you expect? In today’s digital world, the individual does not want to wait, nor see any reason why we should wait to see what the USA can see today. This isn’t 1986. Everyone is posting spoilers in our Twitter stream. We need to see it now, too!

Quickflix.com.au are coming close to helping solve our streaming problems. What’s more, they have come out of the dark ages with their pricing. It now costs just $10 a month for their subscription streaming service, where you can stream as many movies and tv episodes as you like from their subscription library. Or, if your local video library closed down and you don’t have anywhere to rent DVD/Blu-Ray discs from, you can use their disc mailout service for $13 per month for 1 disc out at a time, $23 for 2 discs out or $30 for 3 discs out at a time. Or, if you want it all, pay between $20-$30 per month for streaming AND discs mailout. All in all, it’s great value for money.

In my opinion, Quickflix’s best thing on offer is their DVD/Blu-Ray mailout system. You add things into your queue of what you’d like to watch. Quickflix systematically mails them to you so that you always have your maximum number of discs, according to what you signed up for (1, 2 or 3 discs at a time). The envelope they mail it in is reusable for you to post it back, free of charge. When they receive the returned disc(s), they automatically mail you the next disc(s) in your queue. It couldn’t be easier to rent discs. It’s a great system with many great viewing choices, including TV show box sets. The discs that I have had mailed to me so far (American Hustle and Her) have both been in great condition, no scratches, unlike discs from my local video store (which closed a few months ago anyway). Occasionally, a disc or box set may be in heavy demand, (e.g. currently there is a long wait for the new Orphan Black season 2 box set) but they let you know in your queue.

So that pricing is pretty good, and is comparable to America’s Netflix, which costs $9 a month for unlimited streaming. The only thing about Quickflix is that some things available to stream are part of their “premium” service. You can only watch by paying extra, the prices being basically the same as on iTunes. For heaven’s sake, Jonah From Tonga is available only by paying $17 to stream the whole season (or $3 per episode). The thing was on ABC iView for free a couple of months ago! On iTunes, it also costs $17 for standard definition or $20 for HD. Without me comparing ALL of Quickflix’s premium prices, I think we will find they are neck and neck with iTunes Australia. So it’s a bit annoying that despite paying $10 a month for unlimited streaming, some titles are not included (bascially, all new releases). Having said that, you can access Quickflix’s premium content without being a subscriber.

So, on to using the website (though Quickflix is available on many different devices). When you hover over a title, a ‘hovercard’ shows up with lots of handy bits of info on it. You can add a title to your DVD queue (assuming you have signed up for that service), or stream it immediately. If it is part of premium streaming, it will show you the price right there. It took me a little while to realise I had to look for the little picture of the disc to mean that I was putting a DVD or Bluray delivery in my cue, as opposed to bookmarking what I’d like to stream. Which leads me to a major criticism of Quickflix: It doesn’t seem to have a way to queue things I want to stream, which is THE WORST THING EVER. Definitely a major flaw in their service. I don’t know how they’ve managed this long without offering this.

[EDIT 9.7.14: Quickflix will soon be releasing a new version of their website with many issues addressed in this review being fixed. Looking forward to it!]

A major plus for Quickflix is that they have a deal with HBO. The HBO selection is really good, lots to watch just there, but a lot you have to pay extra for. Some things available as part of subscription streaming are:

HBO streaming

If you’re happy paying premium prices (which you can access without a subscription), you can watch titles like Veep, Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, True Detective and Girls, plus heaps more.

I originally thought there was no easy way to see only titles available for streaming as part of my subscription. After emailing Quickflix with this feedback, I got an email reply the next day. Turns out that if you click on the Streaming tab, then scroll down the page, finally you get to the bottom section which says Browse. This section shows only subscription streaming videos. You can either browse all videos, or select a genre, and sort by title, year and rating. The ratings are just user ratings; they are not ratings supplied by the likes of Netflix which learn your taste and provide their best guess on how much you will like shows and films.

So what are some things available for subscription streaming? Here are some of the top rated films:

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 9.35.23 pm

And some of the top rated tv shows:

Screen Shot 2014-07-06 at 9.36.33 pm

Some top rated titles on offer on disc are:

quickflix

TV shows are listed by their season. So if I’m just browsing, and I find Sherlock season 1 listed, but I want season 3, I have to go and type it into the search box to find it. Clicking on the icon I have located will not help me find other seasons in the series. No links are provided to take me to other seasons, or related TV shows. I would say a weakness of Quickflix is they don’t show me related titles to stream, other shows or movies I might be interested in. I’m left to browse titles randomly to find something I want to watch. They only show you related titles if you add something to your disc mailout queue.

So what’s the quality of picture when streaming from Quickflix? Personally, I found it satisfactory with no problems streaming. From their FAQ:
On most devices under normal conditions, the picture quality on Quickflix content is as good as free to air TV (in Standard Definition or High Definition). On many of our supported devices, the picture quality will subtly vary to accommodate changes in the performance of your internet service – so that you can have an uninterrupted viewing experience.
To get the most out of Quickflix Streaming you will need a minimum Internet connection speed of 1.5Mbps. To view high definition movies on Sony Bravia devices you will need a service that operates at a speed of at least 3.5Mbps.

Quickflix is now streaming to Chromecast, and heaps of other devices. You can find the full list of devices here: http://www.quickflix.com.au/devices . It’s quite a long list!

Quickflix currently have a special offer for people who stream on Chromecast. Details here: http://www.quickflix.com.au/chromecastoffer?promocode=Social_PPC_Chromecast&utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=FB_Post

TL;DR verdict
Quickflix seem to be spending much of their layout on trying to get you to spend more money streaming premium content, which annoys me. In my opinion, their disc mailout system is the best thing they have to offer. Good range of titles on offer for a great subscription price. Until they make their streaming subscription library a bit more massive, I’m not going to sign up for it (though $10 a month means it costs merely pennies per day). But I might just keep using their disc delivery service, as it’s the cheapest legal way currently available to watch new releases. But do you have the patience to wait for the discs to be mailed to you? 😉

Quickflix offers free trials, so give it a go. Just be aware they take your credit card details upon sign up, and it’s up to you to cancel your subscription when your trial is up. You don’t need a Quickflix account to browse their library.

You can find Hanna and her music in these places:
http://youtube.com/astrobic
http://google.com/+HannaSilver
http://facebook.com/silvermusic
http://twitter.com/hannasilver
http://hannasilver.bandcamp.com

Top
Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial