Pulling Music Off Spotify Sends Exactly The Wrong Message

from the driving-people-back-to-piracy dept

There’s been a lot of hubbub the last couple days over Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich deciding to pull Yorke’s solo work and his songs with his “new” group Atoms for Peace off of Spotify, and then have each of them go off on a bit of a Twitter rant about how Spotify doesn’t pay enough.

“The numbers don’t even add up for Spotify yet. But it’s not about that. It’s about establishing the model which will be extremely valuable,” Godrich, whose production credits include albums for Radiohead and Paul McCartney, tweeted. “Meanwhile small labels and new artists can’t even keep their lights on. It’s just not right.”

He continued: “Streaming suits [back] catalogue. But [it] cannot work as a way of supporting new artists’ work. Spotify and the like either have to address that fact and change the model for new releases or else all new music producers should be bold and vote with their feet. [Streaming services] have no power without new music.”

Of course, this is nothing new. We see the same sort of misguided complaint pop up every so often. And, as always, the decision gets everything almost 100% backwards. Pulling music off of Spotify doesn’t help artists get paid. It merely drives people back to piracy. Yes, small labels and new artists have lots of challenges today, but that’s always been the case. In the past, the vast majority of new artists were never able to make a dime. Today, they have lots of options for how to make money, but their biggest issue is just getting heard in the first place — and that’s one thing that Spotify helps with. Not being on Spotify means that, for many Spotify users, you don’t exist. I don’t see how that helps at all.

Of course, what these complaints miss is that Spotify (and the other business that normally gets attacked, Pandora) are still relatively small businesses. If they’re ever going to be able to grow to the point that they can actually pay the sort of money these artists expect to get, then they have to be allowed to do so. Yet, both Spotify and Pandora currently are nowhere near profitable, and a big part of that is because they’re paying out much more than sustainable rates — and the copyright holders are still complaining it’s not enough.

But we live in a world now where no one can really just sit back and wait for the checks to come. You have to be looking at a multi-platform strategy to survive and to thrive and — contrary to the claims of Godrich, above — plenty of new artists are figuring that out. They use Kickstarter and Bandcamp and Reverbnation and Topspin and Patreon and Facebook and Twitter and a dozen other services to help them make a good living — and part of that is that they rely on services like Spotify and Pandora to get recognition and to build a fanbase. Going “on strike” — which is effectively what this is — isn’t particularly useful here. There are always other artists fans can listen to, or they’re just going to go to unauthorized sources.

And, making Spotify pay even more upfront isn’t very smart either. Given how much the company is already paying out, plenty of people are reasonably wondering if the company can even stay in business. How could it possibly make sense to demand more money from Spotify if it means that the company won’t even be in business in the future. Then the artists get no money. Demanding more money than the company can recoup from its listeners is incredibly anti-fan and anti-musician, because you’re only serving to stifle a useful platform.

Meanwhile, from everything we’ve seen, the claims that Spotify pays less than other sources is hogwash as well. We’ve now seen two studies that have both suggested that on a per listener basis, Spotify pays significantly more than almost every other incremental source of revenue that pays per play. Lots of people think that radio pays more, but what they forget is a single broadcast on radio may go out to hundreds of thousands, or sometimes over a million, people. Divide the per play amount down by that and we’ve heard estimates that Spotify pays nearly 10x in terms of both composer and performance royalties (outside the US, since in the US there are no performance royalties for revenue — so there, Spotify pays infinitely more).

So, yes, this is a big PR stunt that tries to make Spotify look bad as something of a weak negotiating ploy for an artist who has made a tremendous amount of money under the old system. But to then claim that they’re sticking up for new artists, while trying to effectively demand a change that will bankrupt one of the fans’ favorite methods of finding new music? That makes no sense at all.

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Companies: spotify

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Comments on “Pulling Music Off Spotify Sends Exactly The Wrong Message”

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Ninja (profile) says:

Radiohead usually gets it right going as far as sharing their stuff for free so I’m assuming this is some isolated incident (mr Yorke solo career). An anomaly to paraphrase our favorite troll.

Not being on Spotify means that, for many Spotify users, you don’t exist.

Actually this is true anywhere. You simply won’t go to a show if you don’t know the artist. For a musician it’s their best interests that their music is out and being wildly shared to form a dedicated fan base. Spotify is but a single platform, you need to be EVERYWHERE. Not true? Then why do the MAFIAA pay radios (the infamous payola) to get their sponsored artists into the top charts? Mind you that the guy is complaining Spotify doesn’t pay while the industry actually takes losses at first to put artists in the top… Maybe he should go connect with the fans, go on tours and the likes before complaining no money is being made?

It’s pretty comfortable to earn money without lifting a finger eh?

jupiterkansas (profile) says:

Re: Re:

How many artists are still touring and making a living based off that one popular song from 30 years ago? The musician’s first hurdle if they want to make money is to get everybody to listen to your music.

Here we have the arrogance of an established musician thinking his music is worth listening to more than others. They don’t understand if their music isn’t on Spotify, then their fans and potential fans are listening to someone else. They’re not the only ones making great music.

Then again, Radiohead long ago chose art over popularity.

ltlw0lf (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Heck, some musicians wind up complaining that no one wants to hear their new stuff. All because the audience wants the artist to play what they grew up listening to.

I’d agree for the most part with classic bands, though I’ve been to quite a few concerts where the band played a number of “new” songs and a number of their classic hits, and I didn’t feel cheated. (Incidentally, for those bands, I started listening to their new music after hearing them play it in the concert.) A musician who has CwF:RtB usually has nothing to fear…their fans love them and will be a little more forgiving.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Obviously this also eats into the pie of up and coming artists and current artists still creating new works.

When the sales drop or the royalties drop or they need more money, the older artists who don’t want to create new material (not all are like that, Dylan still creates new stuff) and just get together and tour (usually with other bands in a similar state). Nothing wrong with that, living off your past work and working (touring) because they are working with what is known.

It would be a great challenge for someone who had a hit or two or five 30 years ago to make a comeback unless their new material is really really good.

Again though, current artists, new artists, indie artists, DIY-ers just doing it as a hobby, and the older artists trying to sustain a living, they are ALL trying to get a slice of the pie.

The pie has NOT grown like many think, because more than just music is available now, movies are strong competitors, as are books (some people still read – shocking i know), TV shows, and of course, video games.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Umm, what?

Now that there are tons more ways for a musician to make money off their music, rather than just ‘sign with a label and hope you make the top 2%’, the pie has increased enormously. Now this has increased competition, as people only have so much money and time they can devote to music, but the possibilities and potential outlets for musicians have never been higher.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Sorry, I should have been more clear – I meant through touring or merchandising or royalties.

The problem is the more musicians out there, the more the pie is sliced. Yes there are new ways for musicians to generate income, and the more creative they are, the larger their slice.

However, there is still a limit to what the populous can spend on music or music related items. Groceries, rent, etc.. take priority over entertainment. And my point was even within the entertainment industry, there is competition between movies and music and books and video games, so the more players that enter, the smaller the slice of the overall entertainment pie.

I don’t think there’s more money to be spent on entertainment that before, not significant anyhow. Especially since the world economy isn’t exactly booming.

I am not so certain that the available pie is much larger, though I could be wrong. I am just trying to logic through this, based on what we’ve read here and in the media and seen in the economic fields (rise of video games, loss of jobs, more musicians coming out of retirement to tour).

I don’t have more disposable income to spend on every damn band that wants to tour, even though the RIAA somehow thinks I do. I am quite selective. There are other things I’d rather spend my money on or NEED to spend my money on.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

Thanks for the clarification there, and while I agree on some points, I also disagree on others.

To explain: While I’d agree that the money each person has to spend on entertainment, be it music or otherwise is probably around the same, at the same time with more and easier ways to listen to music other than just radio or buying CD’s I’d imagine that the number of people listening to and buying music has increased, and will continue to do so as long as more services like Pandora/Spotify are able to survive and grow.

So I guess on a individual basis you could say the pie remains the same, while looking at the music scene overall the pie has increased.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Ah you mean exposure increased because a large number of people have access to the web, larger than those who had access to the content under the pre-web system? Meaning global access? Under those conditions, I can see the increase.

But people who used to spend their $$$ on records/tapes/CD’s have switched to video games. We’ve come a long way since Atari and it used to be cool to hang at the local music store, buying what you could afford, now people have gaming parties.

Unless there are still tones of people who get together to spin records/CD’s/stream music like they used to.

I am just finding it difficult to see the increase in the overall pie, other than factoring in the globalization (ignoring BS “this is not available in your region” restrictions).

Do you see evidence of an increase in music spending in the US? per user total spending?

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Okay, I suppose I can see that, now that gaming has become more and more available, money that might have gone towards music has probably been diverted, at least in part, to other things.

At the same time though due to how low the barrier to listening/purchasing music has become(1 download and a few bucks for an album/couple of singles), I’m still thinking that the pie as a whole has grown for musicians, though it’s a gut feeling right now, as I’m not quite sure how I’d find stats on music profits/purchases as a whole(just looking at MPAA stats wouldn’t do much, as they have been getting a lot of competition from the internet, and so wouldn’t be that useful to show the music industry as a whole).

out_of_the_blue says:

"Pulling music off of Spotify" limits their GRIFTING.

Sheesh, Mike. Your talent for twisting simple matters out of recognition is AMAZING. This has NOTHING to do with piracy, only with MONEY that Spotify is getting while NOT fairly paying the actual creator.

Take a loopy tour of Techdirt.com! You always end up same place!
Techdirt Axiom #1: Mike once quipped “Streisand Effect” = he’s the authority on every topic.

Anonymous Coward says:

Pulling music off of Spotify doesn’t help artists get paid. It merely drives people back to piracy.

Oh, look. Mike is blaming the artists for the fact that people willingly choose to violate artists’ rights. The pirates were merely driven to it, of course. It’s not their fault that they are selfish people. It’s not their fault that they choose to pirate. The pirates are the victims! Yay, Techdirt! Gotta love that Mike. He thinks piracy is not OK, can’t you tell?

Dark Helmet (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Taken to an extreme, your argument is the same as saying that the anti-slavery folks loved violence, obviously, because of slave revolts against their oppressive masters. Obviously we shouldn’t take into account that their crimes (murder) may not be crimes in the context that they were driven to it, we should only look at the uprisings and insist they’re wrong.

Must be tough living in such a myopic world….

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

No he’s talking about what he thinks the repercussions of this action will be.

Could you be more dense please?

He’s making it sound like someone’s decision to not put their music on Spotify drives pirates to piracy. It’s putting the blame on the rightholder. It’s Mike’s standard pirate apologism bullshit.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

He’s making it sound like someone’s decision to not put their music on Spotify drives pirates to piracy.

Ummm, availibility IS one of the factors that pirates claim as a reason for pirating, so that isn’t any kind of stretch there. Just basic reasoning.

It’s putting the blame on the rightholder.

Don’t be daft. That’s not placing blame anywhere. It’s the reality of the situation, nothing more, nothing less. If you want to ignore realities that go against your views, that’s fine, but don’t expect everyone else jump on your bandwagon of denial.


Re: Re: Re: It's not a cow, don't try to treat it like one.

When authors refuse to continue making their work available then they should certainly get blame put on them.

Their entire ownership interest is based on the idea that their stuff is available. If it’s not available then they are breaking the social contract that their “rights” come from.

A creative work suppressed from public availability is a form of theft and should be a worse crime than “piracy”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Why do you have to lie every time you try to make a point? Why are you incapable of addressing reality?

The reality is that greedy pirates–Mike’s bread and butter–make the conscious choice to pirate, and it’s absolutely no one’s fault but their own. They aren’t driven to it. They willingly choose it like the greedy little bastards they are.

crade (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The reality is also that it makes absolutely no difference where you feel like laying blame. The point, obviously is that pulling music off spotify causes piracy to go up, not that they are “to blame” for piracy, or that it’s “all their fault” or whatever other non-practical, non-results driven (and thus irrelevent from a business perspective) junk you want to come up with.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

That is the logical conclusion, and frankly the only conclusion one can come to when looking at facts.

AC, however, is too much of an idiot to work out that saying that X will happen is not the same as supporting X. We can tell him all we want that he’s driving off a cliff, but all he’ll do is ask why we support death by falling.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

See what I mean? Lying asshole all the way.

Mike already supports an alternative to piracy – in fact, one of many he supports – Spotify. Why you have to lie about this is beyond the comprehension of any normal human being. As is the understanding of why you think that pointing out that the removal of something shown to remove piracy may result in its increase is somehow a support of piracy. Makes sense in your fantasy world, I suppose.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Um… did you read the article? Maybe you should try reading the article.

What Mike is saying, and it is obvious, is that here you have a legal system, it’s authorized, it pays something (which is better than nothing) to the artists, it tries to help them, and this particular artist thinks that leaving such a system (to what? No competitor mentioned – just simply leave it) will magically cause an increase in his income.

That’s like leaving a job that pays you slightly above minimum wage because you think they should pay more. Only thing is, you didn’t leave for another job, you just quit, so you now have ZERO income!

That doesn’t make any sense.

This isn’t being anti-artist, it’s the artist shooting themselves in the foot and trying to blame someone else.

So, sorry, your attempt to form a logical argument has failed, but your attempt to regurgitate the musings of David Lowery was perfect. Congrats!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

What Mike is saying, and it is obvious, is that here you have a legal system, it’s authorized, it pays something (which is better than nothing) to the artists, it tries to help them, and this particular artist thinks that leaving such a system (to what? No competitor mentioned – just simply leave it) will magically cause an increase in his income.

What Mike is saying with such things as “driving-people-back-to-piracy dept.” is that the pirates are having piracy thrust upon them. That’s Mike taking the blame away from the ONLY culpable party. It’s pirate apologism. It’s using the passive voice to argue that something is driving the pirates to piracy. It’s utter bullshit. Pirates drive themselves to piracy. Period. Whether an artist or rightholder chooses to place their music on Spotify or not in no way drives someone to violate that artist’s or rightholder’s rights. Whether you understand their motivation for making the decision and whether you agree with it or not is irrelevant. The only party to blame for piracy is the pirates. It’s really that simple. Only apologists argue otherwise. And Mike is one of the biggest apologists there is. But, oh yeah, he thinks piracy is not OK. LOL!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You are oversimplifying a complex situation. The result is an inaccurate assumption.

Pirates are created by the problems with the current system. Some are true pirates who take because they can. Others want the content and try to acquire it legally, but it is unavailable (ex: Thom Yorke pulling himself from SPotify) or overprices (See Reznor’s rant about charging $30 for NIN’s CD in Australia).

You want to pull people back to acquiring music? Stop gouging (Sorry but you don’t get closed captioning or bonus features on YouTube yet I am paying the same rental price $3.99 or $4.99 as going to Blockbuster/Rogers Video store). Stop restricting selections. START making it available and easy to acquire. Get more cards that can be bought with cash to you don’t have the highly restrictive credit-card-required stipulation – especially when the age requirements are Age-Of-Majority — never had that problem when we had brick and mortar stores — before they were weened out by big-box stores (Wal-Mart, department stores, massive franchised/corporate owned media owned stores that could easily undercut your local store) and later replaced with online services that charge the SAME price but you get nothing but access to the content – quite different from the flexibility of a CD or DVD.

Even with DRM being shelved in many cases, the damage was done – NOT by the goddamn “pirates” but by the industry themselves!

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

That’s Mike taking the blame away from the ONLY culpable party. It’s pirate apologism.

Bullshit. Your being purposely obtuse. Can you show me in the article where Mike “blames” anyone?

He was just pointing out that removing a legal avenue will lead to increased illegal filesharing. If you can show past evidence of this not happening, please share it with the rest of the class. Your moral arguments don’t change this real world situtation one iota. It is what it is.


Re: Re: Re: The video star killed himself.

You’re just an idiot with an agenda.

The problem here isn’t “pirates”. The problem here is that Spotify is the replacement for radio and MTV. Without some form of promotional media there will be NO ONE that knows about you.

NO ONE can buy your albums if NO ONE knows about them.

Being an idiot and locking your stuff away from view is simply not in your own best interests as an artist.

Piracy has squat to do with it.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Oh, look. Mike is blaming the artists for the fact that people willingly choose to violate artists’ rights.

This is an outright lie, and an obvious one.

It’s not their fault that they are selfish people.

Exactly as selfish as people who read books at the public library instead of buying them.

And, of course, the artists who are expected to get paid more than they already are aren’t being selfish people. No, not at all. That kid on the playground who says “I’m going to take my ball and go home!” is motivated by altruism, don’t cha know.

It’s not their fault that they choose to pirate.

…said nobody, ever.

The pirates are the victims!

…said nobody, ever.

You just can’t help being an outright liar, can you?

Julian Perez (user link) says:

Re: Re:

By this crazy person non-logic, I’m considered “pro-gravity” and a gravity-enabler if I mention that if you jump off a tall building, you will fall to the ground and hurt yourself.

If you choose to leave money on the table and rage-quit a service trying to help artists because of an obvious disinformation campaign based on bad math, you are guilty and responsible for it.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Trying to blame someone for choosing not to put their music on Spotify is just pirate apologism.

And with this statement, you show just how far off the deep end you are.

Your argument doesn’t make any sense. People are criticizing (not “blaming”) artists for not putting their content on a service that is compeletely, 100% legal. The only consumers who are negatively affected are people who use Spotify.

Those who pirate are not affected one iota. They have absolutely nothing to gain by criticizing this decision.

If this is your idea of “piracy apologism,” then you’re completely out to lunch.

But I guess we all knew that already.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You have missed the whole point of the article, with the music on Spotify there was some income, with it withdrawn there is no income. The resultant increase in piracy is NOT a decrease in income, because the artists has thrown away the income he could have got from Spotify.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Yes, I understand that an artist is foregoing one avenue of income by not using Spotify. So the fuck what? That is their choice to make. They can market their stuff anyway they want. I can point out things that Mike isn’t doing as well. To what end? I love how Mike loves to tell artists what they should be doing, all the while pretending like the artist is responsible for someone else’s conscious decision to pirate their stuff.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Nobody owes the artist anything. The fact that they created something does not mandate that they be paid. It’s absolutely disgusting that some people think since they did a thing, the world owes them something for it because they want something for it. You can piss and whine all you like, but the cultural shift is not in your favor. So why don’t you quit being a whiner and build business case around the way things are instead of around how you’d like it to be?

People that download music are not selfish, they are aware of how things work in reality. They are not to blame for acting in accordance with the way technology works. If you can’t make a living with the way things are, that’s your fault, not theirs. Quit blaming other people for your own miserable failings. Copyright welfare is over. No more business model hand-holding.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

People that willingly violate other people’s rights because they’d rather pirate than pay the rightholder/artist what they are asking for their works are truly the greedy ones. I love this place. Only on Techdirt are the rightholders/artists who have their rights violated at fault. The pirates get no blame. I love it. And, sure, Mike’s not a pirate apologist. Not at all. And you can tell he’s really honest by the way he refuses to engage dissenters in the comments. That’s the sign of an honest man. LOL!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

By giving them an easy, accessible, convenient, FULL LIBRARY alternative that isn’t a price grab or attempt to control how/when/where one accesses the content.

And speaking of rights violations – who was fined $400 million for price fixing – which is illegal? Oh right the same industry who tries to blame everything on the “pirates” when they themselves share SOME of the damn blame.

If you stopped piracy you’d actually NOT return to the “golden” pre-video game days and pre-home-theatre days when the labels and studios held all the cards (what’s that about people’s rights again?) and constantly took advantage of artists and gouged the public, while bribing the government to pass laws to their benefit (musicians for hire ring a bell?).

Sorry but you that AC chooses willful ignorance. He/She would probably love David Lowery’s rants – they could have a “blame the pirates, pity me” party.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

If I decide to pirate your copyrighted work, then only I am to blame for my decision. It doesn’t matter where or how you make your work available. It doesn’t matter that I would prefer you do things differently. I chose to pirate your work, and only I am to blame for my decision.

It really is that simple. There is absolutely no excuse and there is absolutely no one else to blame. I know the truth hurts, and I know that this is Techdirt so such simple truths fall on deaf ears, but there it is.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

Actually if I charge too much or make it difficult to legally purchase my work, when clearly you want it which means there is a chance you’ll pay for it, then no, it is my fault for driving you away.

Today’s reality is the music/movie is avail for free if one wants to go looking. But what if more than just access to the content was offered? What if it was easier than torrenting? What if you also connected with the artist?

Suddenly you WANT to purchase the copyrighted work even more don’t you?

What if I chose to be a total douche, took away my work from a legal service because they didn’t pay me enough. Let’s say you chose NOT to pirate it. So a) I don’t get cash because I closed the service so you can’t pay me b) even if you downloaded it for free, I still get no cash because you have no legal options c) if you didn’t download it for free I still get no cash because you have no legal options.

So what have I done? I’ve made it more difficult for you to pay me, assuming you wanted to, by a) removing my work from a service that legally let you pay me something (which is better than nothing), b) chose a service so complicated or limited or expensive you’d rather just torrent and access it anyway you want it than pay me, c) I ranted and raved at you and your friends and other people who might have previously or might potentially in the future buy my works and alienated you as a result so you d1) chose not to buy or listen or download via an authorized OR unauthorized means d2) chose to never mention my name with people you know so I lose publicity and become even more obscure — which results in $0.

So who’s fault is that? Yours because you felt I was a douche and pirated? Yours because you didn’t pirate it but you didn’t buy it either? Yours because you wouldn’t discuss my works with your friends, free promotion for me, because I alienated you?

NO! MINE! My fault! My fault for not making it convenient for you to buy it. My fault for not making it interesting enough or providing enough fan-interaction or even just offering interesting enough side “added value items” for you to justify opening your wallet to me.

That’s my fault.

How is it your fault if you pirate? You could just as easily not listen or purchase — is that your fault too? Do you honestly think that I would expect that because I created works you must pay me for them – whether you like them or not, whether they are worth the price I am asking/demanding, whether they are legally available or not?

Sorry, that’s not your fault. That’s my fault. I should have done the opposite and made it worth while and made my works available all over, every possible avenue. I should have come up with creative means to interact with fans, within my comfortable limits. I should have figured out what I enjoy doing and figured out how to monetize without gouging my fans. I should have been more interactive on social media, even thanking people for their support with a free web concert or something silly like a lottery and making people dinner at their house. I should have came up with more reasons to buy. I should NOT have alienated you or anyone else.

Again, not my fault!

And for the real pirates, who have the money, the authorized services, etc.. but simply choose not to purchase my music for whatever principle they choose to use, I don’t care because they would not purchase it anyway, even if free was unavailable. Second, if they actually liked what I created, they are more likely (if I am not a douche) to promote me for free, simply with casual conversation. Maybe others WOULD actually want to purchase my music or one of the reasons to buy.

In closing: it is not so simple as you think

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Get some sense.

First off, it’s a granted right and as such, it can be revoked. So that means that even though it is a right, that doesn’t make it correct or ethical. For a time, people had the right to own slaves. In the case of copyright, this right doesn’t deserve to be respected because it:

1. Is unnecessary, since there are other viable and sustainable ways to form a business model.

2. Is antithetical to the intended goal of “promote the progress”.

3. Is not an natural right.

4. Infringes on free speech.

5. Forms monopolies, which are harmful in their own right.

Laws should not be blindly obeyed and respected just because they are laws. Laws are created by fallible, imperfect beings and they often get it wrong. So we, as citizens, must keep vigilant against the propagation of unethical, illogical, and illegal laws. People who violate the law are not automatically wrong or bad. If that were true, the founders of the United States should be remembered as criminal scumbags that violated the infallible laws of King George III.

The problem is that far too many people are stupid enough to believe that cultural symbols (i.e. content, art, knowledge, etc.) are items of discreet property that belong to the person that authors them, which is completely batty if you realize that all creative works are made from the collective culture and experience of the society the author was a member of. It’s like building a house on a state park with state park derived lumber and renting it out for private profit.

I don’t respect copyright one iota because it doesn’t deserve any respect. It’s an extremely flawed and unethical law that should be vehemently opposed.

RyanNerd (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I do not normally respond to trolls. But sometimes I just have to indulge myself.
Mike was not yelling at everyone to start pirating music because an artist decided to “go on strike” against Spotify. Instead, he made the point that people have many other artists to choose from and if people really want the music that got pulled they may naturally turn to unauthorized sources.
As far as making pirates into victims. I’m not sure what you mean. Mike was just pointing out that this artist is shooting themselves in the foot by pulling their music from Spotify.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

As far as making pirates into victims. I’m not sure what you mean. Mike was just pointing out that this artist is shooting themselves in the foot by pulling their music from Spotify.

Mike is taking the blame for piracy away from the pirates by saying that the rightholder/artist DROVE THEM TO IT. It’s not hard to understand. Mike never just says, “A pirate decided to pirate and it’s that pirate’s fault.” It’s always this bullshit about how they were pushed into doing it.

Greevar (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

You damn loyalists brand all of us colonists as a bunch of criminals and that King George’s excessive taxes shouldn’t be opposed nor disobeyed. You just go on blaming us for dumping tea into the harbor because “we decided to and it’s our fault.” You never acknowledge that we are being exploited and cheated by these taxes so that England can keep going at our expense. Why should we colonists be shorted because some starched wigs in parliament can’t find a way to stay alive without being a parasite on colonist economies?

So if you keep insisting on bleeding us with these outrageous taxes, we’re going to keep dumping the tea into the harbor.

Copyright is stealing our culture from us and selling it back in an excrement soaked package.

PaulT (profile) says:

Hmmm… I had that in my “to check out” playlist where I keep music I plan to listen to and work out if I like enough to buy, etc. But, I’ve been listening to so much other stuff recently – some I own on other formats, some not – that I hadn’t got round to it yet.

Oh well, their loss. I’m not going to go out of my way to find it elsewhere, I’ll just continue to listen to music distributed by people who understand the difference between a rental and a purchase.

PRMan (profile) says:

I think what Mike is saying

I think what Mike is saying is that if you are putting your music on Spotify and then sitting back and expecting to make a living off of that without touring, you are sadly mistaken. You need to do other things, but to pull your music from Spotify just makes you all the more obscure, which harms your tours and such.

This really wasn’t that difficult to understand, was it?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: I think what Mike is saying

Touring isn’t the only means, Alex Day doesn’t really tour. But point is still valid.

Whenever you remove yourself from any social interaction with fans or any form of exposure, no matter how little, you harm yourself.

Thom should know this, maybe he’s suffering from some sense of entitlement problem.

Lowestofthekeys (profile) says:

Re: Re: I think what Mike is saying

It may be an issue of whether or not he realizes the importance of being social. He may not have ever had to put the time and effort into connecting with his fans, and if he did, it might have been through pre-written scripts or endorsements.

I think the social connection is one of the most important things because it humanizes the artist and I think it makes people less willing to pirate.


Re: Re: Re: I think what Mike is saying

I think this musician is a talented idiot. He may understand music but doesn’t quite get math. He probably has gotten all worked up by some industry troll whining how bad of a deal he’s getting from Spotify. It’s very easy to confuse the issue when comparing broadcast payments to single user payments. Plus you have labels muddling the issue by taking most of the proceeds.

All of this makes it very easy to demonize either Pandora or Spotify if your audience isn’t particularly savvy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I think what Mike is saying

I suspect Thorn is in the same position as the Silent Movie artists, the technology has changed, and so has the skill set needed to have a career. The artists prepared to use social media to connect with fans and promote their own work will do better than those who rely on others to do their promotions.
Music will continue to be made, but different artists will become popular enough to make a living. Also as the new technology allows many more artists to reach an audience, there will be less money going to each artist, which makes self publishing more likely to produce an income than using a label. The extra overheads and salaries required by labels significantly reduce the share of the income that goes to the artist.

out_of_the_blue says:

"from everything we've seen," -- Your limited view.

First, I think that you read only “studies” made by similar supporters of griftage which please you. Any studies you don’t like, you attack. For example, here you reject the opinion of an actual artist, while trying to weasel “suggested” and “estimates” as cold hard fact.

2nd, you’re wrongly comparing the OLD system of radio play, record/CD sales, and concerts with the practically inevitable NEW system in which — without sales of physical media — Spotify is gatekeeper to MOST of the revenue stream, and if allowed to continue and consolidate, will skim even more percentage than the old grifters! “Radiohead” is simply pointing out that at current rates, future artists are NOT going to make “a tremendous amount of money”, while Spotify IS.

Mike only favors the NEW grifters and gatekeepers over the OLD ones, while oblivious to the new ones cheating artists even worse!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "from everything we've seen," -- Your limited view.

Do you have anything beyond speculation to back that up?

Does Thom Yorke have anything beyond speculation to back that up?

You MUST back up the claim that SPotify is making tonnes of money off of new artists and old artists while paying them diddly squat. Because investors think otherwise and they see the damn financial reports.

So do explain how you come to the conclusion that Spotify is raking in the cash and paying the artists the square root of SFA?

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: "from everything we've seen," -- Your limited view.

First, I think that you read only “studies” made by similar supporters of griftage which please you. Any studies you don’t like, you attack.

Just so you know, the Strawman Mike that you’ve created in your head isn’t real.

I’ve only seen Mike attack flawed methodology and flimsy conclusions of studies. If a study has strong methodology and adequate transparency, then Mike accepts those just fine.

Spotify is gatekeeper to MOST of the revenue stream, and if allowed to continue and consolidate, will skim even more percentage than the old grifters!

Do you have some sort of basis or citation for that wild acquisition there? Or are you talking out of your ass again? Since Spotify is currently running in the red, I’m really not sure how you came to that conclusion.

Karl (profile) says:

Piracy isn't the deciding factor

Pulling music off of Spotify doesn’t help artists get paid. It merely drives people back to piracy.

Actually, it primarily drives people to not listen to their music.

Pulling music off of Spotify would be a terrible idea even if piracy didn’t exist.

On the other hand, maybe more people will use something like eMusic instead. (My friend’s wife works there, so I don’t have a problem with that.) Of course, they’re facing the same complaints too…

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Piracy isn't the deciding factor

“maybe more people will use something like eMusic instead.”

Sadly unlikely. I stopped using them when the major labels forced increases that made the average album more expensive – many of them more expensive than other outlets. That nullified the point of a subscription for me. Maybe it’s changed – I left not long after Sony appeared (causing a worldwide price increase, even though the Sony catalogue was restricted to the US), but I can’t imagine people paying a monthly fee rather than, say, pirating the albums and buying the odd track off iTunes. For your friend’s sake I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t see it.

Dreddsnik says:

“How could it possibly make sense to demand more money from Spotify if it means that the company won’t even be in business in the future. “

That’s the goal for them. Eliminate the level playing fields while trying to look like they’re doing it for the artists. If they can’t use the ‘law’ to shut them down they’ll just kill them financially.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re:

That’s the goal for them.

That is almost certainly the goal for the RIAA, the major labels, and traditional music distributors.

But I somehow doubt it’s the goal of Yorke and company. It’s much more likely that they got some bad advice from their managers, and/or haven’t thought the whole thing through.

I think they believe this stunt is a negotiating tactic to get Spotify to pay them more money. It’s understandable; under the old music model, these kinds of stunts were pretty much the only power you had as an artist.

It may work in the very short term. In the long term, of course, it will backfire very badly. Either Spotify will cave, and go out of business (sooner). Or they won’t, and major label artists will be the only ones left on Spotify – essentially locking indie artists out. (They’ve already done this with Pandora, for the most part.)

Dreddsnik says:

Re: Re: Re:

“That is almost certainly the goal for the RIAA, the major labels, and traditional music distributors. “


“But I somehow doubt it’s the goal of Yorke and company. It’s much more likely that they got some bad advice from their managers, and/or haven’t thought the whole thing through. “

And yes.

Thanks for clarifying that. It’s what I meant, but didn’t express it fully or well. Convincing ‘featured’ players that this kind of thing somehow benefits is a big priority for the media industries.

Zakida Paul (profile) says:

Is it true that Spotify hands 70% of their earnings to rights holders? I read that somewhere but don’t know how true it is.

If it is true, then why is the anger of musicians directed at Spotify? It seems to me like the ones screwing over the artists are the rights holders and not Spotify so we need to direct the criticism to where it belongs.

Why do we not get artists like this speaking out about collection agencies ripping musicians off? They have been doing it for a hell of a lot longer.

Also, it is hard to take anyone who uses the word “simples” seriously.

Stevo (profile) says:

Re: collection agencies vs streaming

artists aren’t complaining about collection agencies because the collection agencies pay very decently. I can live from my BMI payments but my streaming services income would barely pay my netflix subscription.
Spotify is a great deal for music fans and for artists and labels who want more exposure. Artist who are already popular don’t get much out of it even though they are what brings in the listeners.
When the piracy sites are eliminated, the streaming services can get a better price for their product and advertising and they can offer better royalties to musicians.

Coogan (profile) says:

The hubris required to do something like this is truly outstanding.

“My music is worth $1 per listener. I determined that’s the minimum price I’ll take for somebody to listen to my music. If they don’t want to pay that much, then I won’t let them listen. I’d rather get nothing than 65 cents per listener; that’s just plain insulting to my artistic sensibilities and demeans my talents. I said I want a DOLLAR, damnit!”

This is kinda like some subway guitar player putting a sign on his open guitar case telling passers-by “minimum donation: $2. Keep your freaking coins to yourself”.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’ve heard they had to repay those advances. A musician friend says they do.

Not exactly. Here’s how it works. (I’ll use the term “artist” to include things like groups and bands. For simplicity, I’ll leave out things like music videos.)

A label advances money to an artist who has signed with them.

All the costs of recording and producing the album come out of that advance. Usually, the band also pays some portion of the promotional budget from their advance. They live off of what is left over. (That includes things like buying a better guitar, paying their manager, etc.)

The advance must be paid back from the artist’s royalties. Thus, if an album is “unrecouped,” they will get absolutely no money whatsoever from the sale of that album. (At least 9 out of 10 albums are unrecouped, according to the RIAA.)

Whatever is unrecouped is usually “rolled over” to the next album. That is, artists won’t earn any artist royalties until the current album’s advance is recouped, and all the previous albums’ advances are also recouped.

Note also that artist royalties are usually about 15% of the profit made from the albums; the rest goes to the label. So by the time the artist starts getting any royalties at all, the label has already made back five times the cost of the recording.

It’s also worth mentioning that when an artist signs to a major label, they must sign over the copyrights to those recordings, permanently. No matter how much money they make, or whether they’re recouped or not, they will never own the rights to their own recordings. (At least, not until 17 USC’s reversion rights kick in, thirty-five years later… unless the labels can block it. But that’s a subject for another day.)

However – they’re not “in debt” to the label, in the same way as one is in debt to a credit card company. Whatever money they earn other than artist royalties, is theirs to keep.

At least, that was the way it worked before “360 deals,” where the labels handles every aspect of the artist’s music in the same way as above. In that case, the artist can’t keep anything from their income streams until everything in the deal is recouped (album sales, live ticket sales, merch sales, etc).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Thank you. I found online that if there is wording in your contract that you must repay the debt, that’s not a reputable label and to run away.

Given my friend likely had info about such labels, probably local ones and not someone more reputable like Sony or Warner, I would guess that such people were screwed worse than the “reputable” labels.

Karl (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

Given my friend likely had info about such labels, probably local ones and not someone more reputable like Sony or Warner, I would guess that such people were screwed worse than the “reputable” labels.

I’ve never heard of smaller labels demanding “repayment” in their contracts, other than the way I described. Generally speaking, indie labels treat musicians much, much better than “reputable” labels. Obviously, there are some exceptions (Some Bizarre and Victory spring to mind).

They still have the same general setup, but usually the advances are lower (so less “debt”) and the percentages are higher. That’s because indies are set up so that you can sell 30,000 records and turn a profit; major labels are not.

Gwiz (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

I’ve heard they had to repay those advances. A musician friend says they do.

I would think it’s like any other debt that one enters into contractually. Like when you get a loan from a bank. But, honestly, I don’t really know.

When would an artist/group not have to repay the advance?

I’ve heard that the labels will write off the debt sometimes (the same way a credit card company will if it’s not worth the cost to collect the debt). I have no idea if that’s true or not. All I’m going on is what people have claimed in the comments here.

TheUglyOne (profile) says:

Complain about payment but use Free services

Interesting how many artist complain about not getting paid for their work but then do not pay others for their work. Are they using twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc. for marketing and connections with fans? If so are they paying the programmers or engineers for their work. If not they are free loaders plain and simple. These social media services should charge the artists for their use to pay they poor engineer who has to turn their patents over to the company. Its only fair right?

coward (anon) says:

Straw men and reality

Lets move away from strawman arguments and look at a real-life case, me.

I have over 1,000 CDs and almost as many vinyl LPs in boxes sitting in a storage unit because I don’t have space in the apartment to store them. By any standard, having purchased several thousands I’ve been a good customer of the record industry.

I also have close to a terabyte of MP3s, a mix of legally purchased ones, ones that I ripped from CDs I own and some that are arguably “pirated”. So I have a huge music library at my disposal.

But I listen almost exclusively to music on Spotify (and for some tracks, Sony’s Music Unlimited) because it is available wherever I am with having to remember to either take the CD or MP3 with me. Spotify provides the ultimate convenience and covers all the music I listen to. Note the last statement. The only music I listen to is on Spotify. That means if your music isn’t there, I won’t ever hear it. Instead I’ll listen to up and coming artists on tiny labels. Groups like Nightmare Air or Lucius, groups which get no airplay or promotion. Groups that I support by going to their shows when they are in town.

Spotify and services like it are the future of music. If Thom Yorke or Radiohead don’t want to join in, they will just die off like the dinosaurs they are.

Dave says:


When will artists finally wake up and realise that the problem is always the record companies. The record companies are the ones that screw hem with the tiny royalties.

Record companies are not just screwing artists but also businesses like Spotify. Apple can afford to run iTunes Store at break even because it sells hardware. This is Spotify’s only business and getting hammered with all the money they pay out. Artists see very little and then point the finger at Spotify. Maybe the artists are afraid of criticising the record labels in case they get dropped. Artists spend a lot of time seeking that illustrious record deal where they think they will achieve money and fame. It is also widely known artists have never made much money from records. Most is made from touring, in which case the exposure Spotify gives them is key.

Why do we need record companies? Recording an album is getting cheaper, distribution is cheap and marketing is cheap and highly effective if you know how to use social media. Go straight to Apple or Spotify who take 30% and the artist takes 70% like the App Store model. Get rid of the pointless greedy middleman the record company.

Artists may not be great at marketing, I am sure there will be startups out there which will market you for a much smaller cut than the record companies.

Anonymous Coward says:

Spotify is just another middleman leeching money away from creative people. It is giving the consumers what they want in order to build up a monopoly in the music industry. Then when it is powerful enough it will be able to screw the musicians by lowering royalties even further and screw the consumer by raising subscription charges.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

While your argument is as stupid as it is wrongheaded, this part is quite telling:

“It is giving the consumers what they want”

Why are the musicians and existing middlemen somehow unable to do this?

I’ll ignore the idiocy of defending the current set of middlemen, who have been proven to rip off consumers and musicians alike, in favour of some paranoid prediction of what Spotify might do in the future. But, the simple question is – if giving the consumer what they want is all that Spotify need to do to make huge sums of money, then why aren’t the legacy companies doing so? How can a company come in and scare the industry and its defenders so much if all they’re doing is meeting the demand of the industry’s existing customers, unless that’s just a sign of how badly run the industry has been thus far?

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