Is Spotify the future of music?
Pop music and technology used to always go hand in hand- oddly in the 21st century there seems to be a fear of the future and an assumption that every change is for the worse. Of course this can be true sometimes but is it true in the case of Spotify?
In the past few months there has been an increasing amount of teeth gnashing about Spotify- the music streaming service. There is the sense that its low royalty rates are meaning the death of everything and that it another piece of digital thieving.
High profile artists like Thom Yorke are running campaigns against it and at every panel at every conference that I chair people are wringing their hands and calling it the end of music as we know it.
There is the feeling the so called fifty pound man (and that is the term that is bandied about) that the music business relied on for so long has been replaced by the ten quid man who pays for the monthly streaming service and that’s it. We live in very different times and there is genuine concern that to create all this stuff to listen to is becoming cost prohibitive.
The complaint is about that low royalty rate and also the general drift on the internet to break albums up by the listener into songs but then isn’t that the way we have always listened to music- in the glory days of vinyl it was always half played seven inch singles piled up on the floor as you trued to find the musical hit.
But there is now a new point of view and it’s one that makes heartening reading.
This week I was chairing a panel at the great Sensoria music and film festival in Sheffield and the record label boss Korda Marshall was on the panel. Korda has become a bit of visionary, using his experience of years in the music business and never keeping still and never being stale and he caused a shocked silence in the room when he stuck up for Spotify.
It’s always great to hear someone go against the grain and we like to celebrate change here- after all when music went from 45’s to 33’s people panicked and I’m sure when people stopped buying sheet music there was much hand wringing and Korda’s argument was rock solid claiming that the royalty rates on Spotify may be low but with the amount of plays even now and the amount of increasing subscription fees to the service and similar services the money is starting to come in for the labels to pay the bands and pay the bills and that the way this whole system of listening to music was increasing so quickly that he was VERY optimistic about the future and felt that streaming was the way forward and that within a few years the whole current crisis could be over.
I have to say that I agree with him, as much as I love the concept of vinyl and love its aesthetic I simply can’s cram any more into my flat and it sometimes feels like the arcane world of the antique dealer.
Like a lot of people my life involves a lot of movement and I want the music now- having all that music in a small box I can put in my pocket is great and most of my listening is now on Spotify and it’s good to hear that the artists are going to get paid unlike the pirates who are still quite happy to claim the moral high ground and pay nobody.
What do you think? do you use Spotify? do you think they pay the artist enough? do you think that instead of being the end of music this really is the future? do you feel that this really is the future of listening to music?