I’ve been using the free version of Spotify for a couple of days now and I finally can see what all the fuss is about. Want to check out that band a friend recommended but you think you probably won’t like? Done. Yep, didn’t like them. That’s cool, didn’t blow $20 on buying it, and the artist gets paid anyway.
Well, kinda. I have two EPs available for streaming on Spotify and similar services, Be Here Right Now and The Shoes and Gloves EP by Dion Read & The Afterthoughts. I check my digital revenue every now and then - my current balance is $0.07 from these services combined. Holy crap that’s not much. Not enough for my distributor to bother paying it to me. I’d be confident of getting more by playing them through a shitty set of speakers at a suitcase rummage with a hat in front of me. It’s a bit insulting to think that a full-length, good quality subscriber/ad-supported stream is worth as little as $0.001 to the artist. Fuck, I’d be happy to have a piggy bank powered Spotify to drop in 5c every time I wanted to hear a track. 4c the second time, 1c thereafter. Straight to the artist.
Or maybe you did like that band your friend recommended but you think, “I won’t bother buying it, I’ll just type them in to Spotify whenever I want to listen.” I’m struggling with that right now. I’ve heard some cool stuff, especially a few tracks of the new Kate Miller-Heidke album, definitely songs that I want to hear again. Now that I have the option of not buying them (let’s forget piracy options for a second), do I actually buy them?
My fear is that when it comes time to tour, the traditional money earners for up-and-coming bands is the merchandise, selling CDs and T-Shirts. Having 20 people buy your CD means you can afford the flights to get back home, whereas having 20 people think, “I’ll just check it out on Spotify” means you can bank $0.07.
I also don’t feel like I’m in a position not to be on streaming services for moral grounds, because if I’m not there, are people really going to hunt down the bandcamp page or listen to iTunes previews? Probably not. If it’s not there, I search for something else to listen to.
What a weird, fucked-up time to be a musician in. Exciting, but really fucking weird.
Oh yeah, go and listen to my music. Spotify, bandcamp, iTunes, wherever. If you buy it, I get to keep pretending that this whole thing is worthwhile.