Record Label Says That Pulling Music From Spotify 'Protects Artists'

from the no,-it-doesn't... dept

We’ve definitely seen plenty of confusion from record labels over the value of Spotify and similar services. But, a heavy metal/hardcore label, Century Media (which runs a variety of smaller labels: InsideOutMusic, Superballmusic, Ain’t no Grave Records, Hollywood Waste and People Like You) has claimed that it’s pulling all its music from Spotify to “protect artists.” It’s a funny way to “protect” artists by punishing fans who want to hear them. They complain that “physical sales are dropping drastically in all countries where Spotify is active.” Their assumption appears to be that correlation is causation, and merely removing their works from Spotify will now shoot sales back up. But that’s not how things work. If anything, it seems likely that this move will accelerate their problems with physical sales. Not only will people not want to buy CDs, they won’t even know about the musicians on this label. They’ll just listen to someone else instead. The way you protect artists is by helping them to better connect with fans, not making it even more difficult. If I were a band on a Century Label, I’d be pretty pissed off that the label has unilaterally decided to piss off a bunch of my fans and stop many potential fans from discovering my music.

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Companies: century media, spotify

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Comments on “Record Label Says That Pulling Music From Spotify 'Protects Artists'”

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78 Comments
illuminaut (profile) says:

Re: Re:

To be fair, I don’t know the labels or the bands on there, but they might have a dedicated following who would buy albums if they didn’t already get them as part of their spotify subscription. Exposure is great, but it doesn’t work the same for every band, especially in niche genres where they might already reach many of the people who will ever be interested in it.

let’s talk to them in a few months and see if this worked for them rather than outright dismissing their strategy based on nothing but assumptions.

In the long term you’re right that labels need to adapt to survive, but it doesn’t always work that way in the short term.

Motheius says:

Rush

I love Spotify so far, but I have to say this is one of the more annoying traits I’m seeing.

For example I have saved every single Rush album they have available. However out of the hundreds of songs, there is *one* song that is always left out because “The artist or record label doesn’t want this yada yada yada…”

It’s just baffling to have 462 tracks, but one song from Moving Pictures is verboten!

E. Zachary Knight (profile) says:

Re: Rush

That makes me sad. Rush is one of my top favorite bands. I would cry if I used Spotify.

For another example, but on YouTube, Vevo has made a large number of Weird Al videos available, yet there are a number that are not available in the US because of “Copyright Issues” I can buy the song on iTunes or buy the album at surviving music stores, yet I can’t watch one out of 50 videos online.

And yes I understand the irony of not being able to watch something in the US online because of Copyright reasons.

Motheius says:

Re: Re: Rush

The missing song I was talking about earlier today is The Camera Eye, and there are a few others. The exact error message is:

The artist/label has chosen to make this track unavailable. If you have the file on your computer, you can import it.

Xanadu (the studio version), 2112 and Cygnus X-1 are also in the same boat. It’s really strange to me that out of all that music, these songs were specifically singled out. I’m just curious as to why.

Other then this, I’m enjoying Spotify.

Cloksin (profile) says:

Not what the artists want

Just to show you that the labels truly are disconnected with their artists, this is an email I recieved from the Offspring on July 28th, 2011. (yes, I’m on their mailing list)

Hey Offspring Fans,

The excellent music service Spotify is now available in the U.S. by invitation only. Basic accounts are free and allow you to stream millions of songs instantly, higher access levels (mobile access, no ads, etc.) require monthly fees.

CLICK HERE to get your invite

Once you’ve confirmed your Spotify account, click the link below to hear a new playlist just picked by The Offspring.

The Offspring’s Current Faves

Invites are limited, first come first served until we run out.

Enjoy!

Offspring.com

It would seem that the bands really like the idea of Spotify, so we have a case of the left hand not telling the right hand what it’s doing.

Could someone please tell me why the labels still exist!

Josh in CharlotteNC (profile) says:

Re: Not what the artists want

Could someone please tell me why the labels still exist!

inertia in?er?tia (ĭ-n?r’shə)
n.

The tendency of a body to resist acceleration; the tendency of a body at rest to remain at rest or of a body in motion to stay in motion in a straight line unless acted on by an outside force.

Resistance or disinclination to motion, action, or change.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Not what the artists want

It would seem that the bands really like the idea of Spotify, so we have a case of the left hand not telling the right hand what it’s doing.

Yeah, this surprised me too, because I know about (and in some cases, have met) many of the bands on Century. I doubt that the bands are happy at all about this.

Century is probably the biggest “indie” label out there – they’re distributed by EMI – so maybe they’ve been hanging out with the RIAA folks for too long. Who knows.

Anonymous Coward says:

“physical sales are dropping drastically in all countries where Spotify is active.”

Holy Christmas, have they been living under a rock? In case they haven’t noticed, physical sales are dropping drastically in all countries PERIOD. Welcome to the new millennium gentlemen. You’re about a decade late, and in for one helluva bumpy ride. Please turn off the lights on your way out.

In other news, Sony Entertainment pulls all their music from iTunes due to plummeting Walkman sales.

Lord Binky says:

This could be a blessing in disguise. If I never hear a new band from a large label again, that means the bands I DO hear (and coincidentally buy music of) are from independent or small intelligent labels.

Excluding yourself from a party and after being an asshole so everyone there is glad you didn?t show up, is a very nice gesture but certainly will no get you any sympathy.

HavaCuppaJoe (profile) says:

Don't doubt this a bit

Actually, I don’t doubt the record label in this a bit. It very well could be hurting their album sales.

Why?

Because Spotify is awesome, that’s why. It’s almost like having an infinitely big iPod with ever record ever recorded on it.

I’ve been using one of their competitors lately (Rdio) and I’ve been wondering myself why I would want to buy more recordings when everything I’ve every wanted to hear is only seconds away.

Ironically, this is one of the things that record companies have been asking for; i.e. getting recurring money from everybody. However, as in all things, the revenues from these services is limited. The pie has to be divided up and the companies that get most of the slices are the big guys because the number of their plays/downloads vastly outnumber the numbers of the little guys. So the small labels slice of the pie could be rounding down to (near/actual) zero.

There’s no one good solution that will resolve everyone’s problems.

Troy Laurin (profile) says:

Re: Earth To Century Media!

Newsflash.. nobody is buying CD’s anymore.

Don’t paint with too broad a brush.

I personally still buy CDs, since they are the best form of storage for songs that I want to keep – hence why I bought them in the first place. I can rip them to any required format, they are easy (and legal) to lend to friends.

In the last decade, I’ve lost too much hardware that, had I only owned digital copies, I would have lost my music as well. I realise there are services that allow me to redownload purchased content with no extra price, but the cost is usually tie-in to their services.

nelsoncruz (profile) says:

Protect more!

They should “protect” the artists even further by pulling their music from every service that charges less than 1 million dollars to ear them. See how well that works for them…

And then when Century Media sees 1000 illegal downloads on the Pirate Bay, it can claim 1 billion dollars in losses! Wow! That will really make the politicians move on anti-piracy legislation!

PS: This is what the labels have been doing for a LONG time. Price their product above what the market will bear, or place it on a market (physical CDs) that their costumers are abandoning, and then complain of unrealistic losses as people turn to more convenient sources.

Anonymous Coward says:

A few years a go I discovered the band Turisas on Last.fm. They had all of there songs on there and you could listen to the whole tracks not just 30 second clips. I listened through both of their albums and really liked what I heard. So I went to Amazon and bought the digital versions. Every now and then I check in on their website to see what they’re up to. I just looked a few weeks ago and found out I had totally missed a new album earlier this year. Obviously I wanted to listen to the new album to see if it was as good as their first two. There was only one song on the band’s website, so I went back to Last.fm. When I got there all of there songs were only 30 second clips. That was completely worthless. You can’t get a good feel for a song and tell if you like it or not with only a 30 second clip. Anyways someone had posted a YouTube link for a song so I tried to listen to it there. When I got to YouTube I was greeted with a lovely message that the video was no longer available due to a copyright claim made by none other than… Century Media. By this point I was too frustrated with the whole thing and gave up. Maybe some day I’ll listen to their new album and possibly buy it if I like it. But until I can actually preview it there’s no way in hell they’ll be getting any more money from me. So congratulations Century Media, you helped a great band turn away a paying customer.

Anonymous Coward says:

I haven’t had a chance to check out Spotify yet, but I wonder: does it function well as a discovery engine? If it’s more of a “I can just ask for whatever song I want” type of thing, I can see why a smaller label might want to opt out. I assume the fear is that people will discover the bands on their own, and then solely use Spotify as their source for that particular music. Spotify is somewhat notorious for it’s fractions of fractions of a cent pay-outs to small artists.

Big Mook (profile) says:

Shiny plastic discs

Unfortunately, my wife is one of those consumers whom the record labels love. She doesn’t want digital downloads at all — she wants shiny plastic discs. She wants that piece of paper that has a picture of the album cover, she wants the liner notes (if any), she really wants the lyrics, etc. She wants to be able to slide that plastic into the CD player in the car, the kitchen or the bedroom stereo. She still wants me to rip it so that I can add the songs to her Blackberry, too, but she wants that label-supplied plastic disc with all of its trappings and has actually asked me NOT to download albums for her from iTunes or Walmart.com anymore.

*Sigh*

Loki says:

Re: Re: Shiny plastic discs

Yeah, when I read that Walmart was closing down the MP3 store on August 28th I was surprised. I wasn’t even aware it was still in business. I thought it had closed like two or three years ago. So I asked about about 15-20 people if they were aware the Walmart MP3 store was closing. Half of them didn’t know Walmart ever had an MP3 store, or like me thought it had closed several years ago. There marketing department must be beaming with pride.

Anonymous Coward says:

I really hope someone with time and resources checks back in a year. See where all their bands went. How the sales “improved”. How many legitimate buyers will go to torrents? Oh wait.. that’s their next step isn’t it? But but but piracy!!

Yeah so I hope someone checks back in a while. Mike, make a note? You should really revise some old articles sometime and see how their new and improved let’s not allow anyone to listen to our music model has made them improve.

out_of_the_blue says:

Spotify is late to internet radio. Why promote it so much?

Try shoutcast.com for all the new (or old) music that you can stand, or have time for.

My question is what’s different about Spotify from those thousands of completely free internet streams except that it has more advertising?

Late to the thread, and probably rhetorical anyway.

PaulT (profile) says:

Never heard of the label, but apparently I have bought a couple of their albums (Lacuna Coil, a band I discovered when a friend gave me a – gasp! – pirated copy of one of their albums when he heard I was an Evanescence fan and he thought they were similar). I might like some of their other artists, but how do I know without listening to them? I’m certainly not going to buy Lacuna Coils’ next album without listening first as I find their stuff hit and miss, let alone other artists I’m not familiar with.

As for losing revenue? I doubt it. I’m currently listening to Leftfield’s Leftism on Spotify, an album I love and have already bought twice (once on tape, then on CD). Despite loving the album, I’ll never buy it again (what’s the point?), but Leftfield still stand to get a small amount of revenue whenever I choose to listen to it on Spotify. A shame Century’s bands don’t stand to get revenue from their fans in the same way.

JackHerer (profile) says:

100 years ago...

Sales of horse can carts are dropping off everywhere automobiles are available, therefore we at Blogs and Co Horse Buggies inc. will refuse to make automobiles to “protect” our business and workers. Of course physical media sales are dropping off, what the hell would i do with a CD anyway, i can’t remember the last time a blew the dust off my CD player and even if my phone had some sort of way to play CDs, why would i want to carry some massive bag of CDs about when i can just pay ?10 a month for Spotify and have access to 8 million plus tracks. What planet do these morons live on.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t have the infinite knowledge on this matter like Mike Masnick and some other people here, but maybe, just MAYBE, Spotify plays do not make enough money for artists.

Ever thought about that?

And I’ve heard plenty of people say that they don’t feel the need to buy the music anymore if they can stream it from Spotify.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“Ever thought about that?”

If you ever read his words, I think he has.

“And I’ve heard plenty of people say that they don’t feel the need to buy the music anymore if they can stream it from Spotify.”

I’ve heard plenty of people say they would never buy a song from a contestant on The X Factor. That means nobody buys their songs, right?

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Infinite knowledge

Strange how you ignore the artists who do comment, especially those who comment on a regular basis. Almost as though you’re wilfully ignoring them to make a “point”. Hmmm…

As for me, I never claim to have “infinite knowledge”, but as a paying customer I do point out the many mistakes that stop me from buying what I wish to pay for. For my troubles, I usually get accused of “piracy” or told I’m wrong by the likes of you.

Rowan (profile) says:

GAH!

I’m extremely disappointed to see this coming from a record label like Century Media.

I was a “working” musician in metal bands for a number of years and we knew from the get-go (this is back in 2004 mind you), that we would NEVER make a huge amount of money from record sales. So what did we do? We concentrated on making cool merchandise than fans wanted to buy, played as many live shows as we could and delivered a performance we knew people would want to come back for.

We certainly didn’t make the big bucks, but we made enough to go live, play, and go on tour relatively often. But the thing is: none of that would have been possible if we didn’t actively encourage others to share our music for free. Without sharing no one would have heard us beyond the East Coast and we probably would not have been able to tour the West so early into our career.

Pips says:

Weird.

Sort of weird for a metal label to be doing this. Most metal these days is expected to be downloaded for free off the various blogs. In turn, fans are expected to buy what they like. A lot of metal bands know they wont be super rich because the genre is pretty niche. If they wanted to be rich they wouldn’t be making the music. It’s a love of the music. Anyone who is into the genre knows a lot about this, most serious metal fans will buy the albums on vinyl when ever possible. My town has several metal shops that are just packed to the gills with vinyl. Finding stuff on CD is next to impossible.

Jesse Townley (profile) says:

An independent record label chimes in...

As General Manager of Alternative Tentacles Records, indie label since 1979 and currently distributed physically & digitally by Revolver, I think it’s silly to pull one’s catalog from ANY digital service that’s actually (gasp!) paying labels.

Yes, streamed songs (Spotify, Rhapsody, Jango, Pandora) are paid at a much lower rate than digital sales (iTunes, eMusic), but it’s still income that the label & the artist can split.

Seriously, that’s completely backwards and a big disservice to their sub-labels & their bands.

P.S.- The comments about CDs being dead are not accurate. We sell less CDs than before, and more vinyl & more digital than before, but CDs are still strong, depending on the band.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: An independent record label chimes in...

Yes, streamed songs (Spotify, Rhapsody, Jango, Pandora) are paid at a much lower rate than digital sales (iTunes, eMusic), but it’s still income that the label & the artist can split.

Indeed, but that’s comparing apples and oranges. Streaming is a performance, whereas digital sales is a reproduction. They have different royalty rates.

Transposing this to the 1970’s, it’s exactly like Century is saying, “We’re pulling our music off the radio, because we don’t make as much as we do selling vinyl.”

…I’m sure you know all this, it’s for the benefit of other faithful readers.

Been an A.T. fan for twenty years, by the way. Sad that Phantom Limbs broke up.

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