Spotify backlash heralding the change?

You’ve probably heard about the Spotify backlash over Joe Rogan’s podcast. You also should know by now that Neil Young and Joni Mitchell pulled their music from the platform. More musicians are following them.

The tech giant seems to be losing money over this pickle. It lost $2 billion in market value alone. But Spotify‘s business model isn’t going to change. Nor will the algorithm, which isn’t helping independent artists grow. But it does help tech giants grow their business in questionable ways. In 2020 the CEO of Spotify, Daniel Ek, said it bluntly that musicians should record more music and put it out often. But this is hurting both the musicians and the audiences worldwide. It’s a bubble that will have to burst. The sooner, the better.

Nowadays, it’s a real struggle for an independent label or a musician. Streaming platforms that we thought would help us reach new audiences are not doing that at all. The black hole of streaming is consuming all and giving little in return. Moreover, the digital world is making touring more difficult. It all comes down not to the actual music but the numbers. The more clicks you have, the bigger you are. And chances for performing live at big venues grow. Everybody is playing safe and preparing tours, festivals, etc. Nobody wants to take chances anymore. And that is also hurting creativity. Since the algorithm replaced humans, you must be similar to someone else to have your music placed in the right spot and thus heard. I don’t want to invent the wheel here. Frank Zappa told us all about years ago. Now we’re at the peak of it. And yes, he was right all along.

We should be buying physical records and supporting our favorite artists directly. I know that streaming services are easier to use than a CD player. And it allows you to browse through almost limitless catalogs of music. But in the end, you don’t own anything. And you must pay every time to remain the access. Ron Perlman, the famous actor, commented on this last year.

What’s next? I think that we will feel the resurgence of physical releases. A few years ago, vinyl records began to sell again like hotcakes. CD releases will follow a similar path. There are first signs of an increase in sales of physical albums in the UK and the US. And that’s a good thing. If the audiences put a little pressure on the big tech companies, something will change. And the best way is to do it with your wallet.

That’s why I decided to cancel all my paid subscriptions to streaming services. And from what I hear, I’m not the only one. My music will remain there only because it’s convenient to share links from Spotify, Bandcamp, or YouTube. But I will always advocate buying the real thing directly from the artists and the labels. It’s not old school, and it’s not outdated. It’s the only right thing to do if you’re a music lover.

Fabian Filiks,
February 7th, 2022.

Art by: Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library, alterations by me

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