David Byrne speaks out again on artists’ survival in the streaming music era


The ‘artists and streaming’ debate – or as it often boils down, ‘artists v Spotify’ – is frustratingly polarised. Thom Yorke’s an idiot! Daniel Ek is a tech bogeyman! David Byrne’s a luddite! Dave Allen’s a traitor! And so on. Anyone who speaks their mind gets a barrel-load of abuse.

In truth, this isn’t a black and white debate. You can agree with some of Yorke and Byrne’s points while disagreeing with others, or hold the view that streaming will ultimately be a good thing for artists while acknowledging the reasons why a number of musicians remain unconvinced. This is a complex and important debate – too important to be turned into a shouting match.

Stuart Dredge

Read More: Analysis
4 responses
  • Taylor says:

    “But it’s an important point: what artists might we be losing, if they don’t see a way to make money from streaming?”

    At the end of the day this question is useless because the rate of content creation (in all media) only continues to increase. There will always be something or someone else to fill a creative hole left by an artist, filmmaker, or writer you love.

    Even when I personally think about my top 10 favorite artists never putting out another song or album again, I can easily think of 20-30 new artists that will immediately take their place.

    This is what frustrates me most about Byrne & Co’s rants – they treat their own music and the music they like as though it’s some kind of finite resource, a trapping of the old school music business. It’s not. David Byrne has inspired literally HUNDREDS of artists to take his place should he ever decide to call it a day. And many of them will do it purely for the love of it (without any economic benefit attached).

  • Tim says:

    I think that you’re missing the point a bit here in that quote. He’s actually referring to the 20-30 new artists that you say will take their place. His point is that those artists may not be around. And the comment about doing it purely for the love is valid to a point, but if the economic possibilities look bleak enough, you will undoubtedly lose a substantial piece of the talent pool.

  • Rick says:

    If you believe that all music is created equal and any song can replace any other then you are correct to assume that if David Byrne vanished then 20 or 30 clones will take his place.

    The real question is do you want the original or the copies? Do you want the Beatles or the Beatles tribute band creating the soundtrack for your life?

    Creating great music takes study, dedication, talent AND time… If creators cannot make a living they will not have sufficient time in music to learn how to make better and better music….

  • ted pearce says:

    What was wrong with only getting a sampling of an album in the past that we MUST make all songs free on demand now? It make no sense or cents. As an indie, why can’t I put all music online for digital sale, but only a few songs “free on demand”?

    Sales at gigs are still rocking…but there isn’t a good reason for anyone to buy a CD online, if they can get it free.

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