Has Spotify ruined music?

Thanks to Spotify and YouTube, no one with internet access – 90% of the UK – needs to pay for music, an important and seismic shift from the vinyl, CD and download eras when, for many people, music ownership was a luxury or treat.

You can already hear the effects of this democracy on music itself. The global profile of non-Anglophone pop has risen, from K-pop band BTS to Puerto Rican star Daddy Yankee, in part thanks to this levelled playing field; the multicultural hybrid music of stars such as Stefflon Don feels like the natural result of a culture that can access anything, anytime. Critics point out that you don’t own the music you pay Spotify for, but effectively rent it, although the “ownership” of digital files was always pretty illusory and underwhelming anyway – and, as anyone who has tried to copy a library of iTunes files from one device to another, a teeth-gnashing faff.

The case against Spotify

If I compiled the off-record remarks from my interviews over the past decade, the majority would concern Spotify – namely how much artists hate it. “Please don’t put that in,” they panic after slagging it off. “I really need it to support my new album.” And they do: Spotify is a kingmaker.

After the early 2000s doldrums, the recent music industry revenue boom is thanks to the rise in streaming. It is well known that artists don’t see much of this. Spotify’s royalty rate is notoriously low. The top 10% of artists dominate 99% of streams – as Ed Sheeran getting 16 tracks in the Top 20 after the release of ÷ showed. Still, Spotify’s patronage – putting artists in its powerful playlists, which drive streams – is crucial. Musicians can’t afford to complain.

Read More at The Guardian

Read the rest at The Guardian

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