So the past day or two, my twitter and facebook feed —if you filter out all the FB pictures of the offspring from people I used to do keg stands with in high school— has been filled with thoughts and links about Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich’s decision to remove their music from Spotify. If you are unfamiliar and want the nutshell of it, basically, they have removed their music from Spotify to sort of take a stand against a business model that they think does no favours to new artists (and click here if you want ‘the bigger than a nutshell’ of it).
And it is not that they are totally wrong (or out of touch, as Bob ‘inconceivable’ Lefsetz argues), but… it is all a bit anti-climatic.
They didn’t say “we’re removing our music from Spotify and instead are putting it on [option A]”. Or even “we removed our music from Spotify because we’re working on a better option for new artists ourselves”. So it kind of feels a bit like nothing (there’s lots of music not on Spotify).
What would have been cool is if Thom & Nigel would have said “we are removing our music from Spotify because we don’t think their business model is good for new / independent artists AND we will be putting our music on Bandcamp instead… because on Bandcamp, fans can stream the music for free and in any country, but they also have the option of buying physical or digital copies of the music, and merch, at a price the artist choses themselves.”.
But instead, you’ll find no Thom Yorke or Nigel Godrich albums available on Bandcamp. So when Nigel says…
“The music industry is being taken over by the back door. And if we don’t try and make it fair for new music producers and artists, then the art will suffer. Make no mistake. These are all the same old industry bods trying to get a stranglehold on the delivery system.”
… I can’t help wonder why they both keep their music clear from a music service that is so clearly not run by the ‘same old industry bods’. It makes their plight with Spotify seem a little disingenuous. And I’m sure it is not. But a couple of really successful musicians removing their music from a streaming service and having a rant on Twitter doesn’t really do anything to help out any new artists.
So what could of been a great opportunity to help push a ‘great for new artists’ site like Bandcamp into the consciousness of the masses turned out to just be another debate about how Spotify isn’t perfect. Which is a shame, because Bandcamp is already firmly stuck in the minds of those new artists (and the people supporting new artists) that Thom & Nigel are saying their Spotify boycott is all about / for.
Personally, I still like Spotify. It’s an easy way to check out music from new artists, which can often lead to purchases (albums, tickets, merch). And it makes for a great all day radio alternative for when I’m at work. The main problem with Spotify is not so much the low royalties that keep being reported, but the fact that it’s a closed garden that doesn’t really want you to buy music (they’re a streaming company, so naturally, they only want you to stream music). If Spotify linked up to where you could buy digital + physical music and merchandise —directly from the artists— Spotify would be brilliant. But I think Spotify had to climb to far into bed with the big labels to ever be able to pull something like that off. So it will probably never be ‘perfect’.
Luckily, Bandcamp already exists. It just needs more support from artists of a Thom Yorke status to help it become as familiar to the masses as iTunes. But most of those ‘Thom Yorke status’ artists don’t put their music on Bandcamp. I’d be much more interested to hear Thom and Nigel talk about why they’ve decided to not make their music available on Bandcamp instead of hearing why they removed their music from Spoitfy (well, some of their music - Radiohead albums are still on Spotify).
Anyways… that’s the end of my rant / thoughts on the topic.
But before I go soak up this rare English heat wave… I’d like to use this last paragraph to mention another artist friendly site called GOGOYOKO, whose business model might be —minus the fact that artists can’t sell physical goods… yet (?)— one of the best current options of paid for streams + sales (i.e. Bandcamp, and Soundcloud for that matter, don’t pay artists when their music is streamed). Check out GOGOYOKO’s approach and tell me that doesn’t sound like a nice direction for artists and fans.