Monday, December 09, 2019

Sold down the river stream

I'm glad I'm not alone in finding it very odd that in recent days music fans have been using social media to tell artists they love how many times they've streamed songs.

Take ex-Pavement guitarist Spiral Stairs, for instance, who tweeted: "why am I getting everyone's spotify decade bullshit in my feed everyday? don't you realize they don't pay fuck all to the bands you love?" Fucked Up opted for a sarcastic response: "thanks to everyone who listened to our music on spotify this year and made us poor".

Kid Congo Powers, meanwhile, revealed the results of a little experiment he carried out: "my favourite spotty-fy artist of the decade was ME because i spent seven of those ten years playing my own songs (with sound off) to see if i could make more than 5 bucks.. i made less than that... grand times!"

Boasting to bands about the extent of your Spotify usage seems in bizarrely poor taste. As this recent BBC interview with music industry bigwig Jeremy Lascelles underlined, illegal downloading prompted "total and utter panic", with the big labels in danger of being wiped out, but help was at hand in the nick of time: "The record industry was incapable of thinking its way out of the trouble, and then music streaming just fell like a gift from the gods." Streaming may have saved the industry from extinction, but what Lascelles euphemistically referred to as "a different business model" is very evidently not working for artists.

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