Spotify and the ‘Golden Age’ of Music Consumption

While being the most popular music streaming site on the planet, the reputation of Spotify is a mixed one.   Customers of the site enjoy the ease of use and the sheer volume of music that can be streamed, while you will regularly see artists complaining about the small sums they earn from seemingly impressive numbers. There seems to be one recurring theme on social media on the back of this. Artists bemoaning this fact and stating that they would much rather fans bought their CDs or vinyl with the same negativity to the streaming site coming through. This is invariably followed with a range of comments from people saying, ‘I always buy CDs’, all those individuals presumably feeling better about themselves because they are supporting the artists, while those ‘evil’ Spotify users are the unsupportive ones.

I’ll admit something now myself. I stream, like 99% of the time.

I guess now there are a few reading this and casting a critical eye. But there are lots of me around. The numbers tell that story. The days of selling a shedload of CDs are gone. Almost everyone is now streaming.

One of the big criticisms of streaming is that no one is making any money on the back of it. But this is where I totally disagree. I see Spotify as my own ‘radio’. It’s where I listen to the music I love and it’s also the place where I discover new music. If I discover an artist I really like on Spotify, I will attend their concerts and then potentially buy their merch – occasionally a vinyl album. If it hadn’t been for Spotify, the artists wouldn’t have got any of this. Many artists seem to think it’s a simple equation – ‘people are streaming and therefore not giving us any money’. In my case (and I’m sure in many other cases,) this is simply not true.

Yes, the fact is, there are many of artists not making money and assume this is Spotify’s fault. Some look back and imagine a time when loads of artists were making money, some kind of ‘golden age’ – a time that never actually existed. Go back 20 years and the only artists selling records were those with a deal. Lots of artists made no money 20 years ago and lots of artists make no money today, there’s no difference. In fact, Spotify makes it so much easier for other people to listen to your music – 20 years ago artists didn’t have such opportunity. I could record something and have something on Spotify within a couple of weeks if I wanted to (you wouldn’t want me to!).

If you’re good enough, eventually you’ll make money. If you’re not, you won’t. It’s been the same story throughout the history of music. Yes, there are artists who get a helping hand, and it’s easier for them. But if you’re good enough, you’ll make money. If you’re not making money, then perhaps it’s not Spotify who is to blame.

What I would say is – if you are a streamer and you want to support an artist, do it properly! Stream them as much as you can. Streams are the new currency in music, so put those guys on repeat. Help them get on playlists and get those numbers up. I’m of the opinion that doing this will serve an artist better in the long term than anything else right now.

Spotify might have this mixed reputation, but I for one will not stop using it any time soon. And for me, I find it a great way to support artists.

Article written by Nick Cantwell (twitter.com/nickbelles_gals)

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