Last night, we reported on Atom for Peace’s Spotify pullout. The band’s Thom Yorke ramped up the rhetoric later in the evening, too. “Make no mistake new artists you discover on #Spotify will no get paid. meanwhile shareholders will shortly being rolling in it. Simples,” he tweeted.
“‘your small meaningless rebellion is only hurting your fans … a drop in the bucket really’ No we’re standing up for our fellow musicians.” Spotify and its rivals have yet to respond publicly, but they need to, quickly and convincingly.
Producer Nigel Godrich’s criticism last night turned the spotlight onto the question of how streaming benefits emerging artists without a back catalogue to rack up millions of streams.
The counter-argument – that streams give important exposure to new artists that will boost their income over time – needs to be fleshed out. If an artist’s music is being streamed over *here* and they’re hoping to make money from ticket sales, merchandise, sync deals, special releases etc over *there*, streaming services must show how they can be the bridge between those worlds.
We were struck recently by a quote in our interview with Indmusic about how artists should work on YouTube: “Once you have someone’s attention, what do you do with them next? Where else are you going to point them? Buy the single? Ticket sales? Go to your website?”
This may be the key to services like Spotify proving their value to new artists by giving them more tools to sell and sign up fans.
It’s something Topspin is already working on for Beats’ Daisy, as it explained in January: “When Trent Reznor uses Topspin to release music and merch on his website, his products should appear inside the streaming services, where the millions of fans listening to his catalog of songs should have the ability to connect and hear from Trent directly when he has new music, merchandise, and tour dates…”
More of this across multiple services would be welcome. Yet there is also responsibility on both sides of this debate.
“Really sad that Nigel Godrich and Thom Yorke are worried about Spotify,” tweeted Spotify’s artist-in-residence D.A. Wallach this morning. “We spend a ton of time talking to artists and I really hope that they will meet with us to have a conversation.”
There is no option to roll back the clock to a downloads-only digital music market, so streaming has to work for new artists, somehow. If Yorke and Godrich want to stand up for fellow musicians, they can play a valuable role now in helping to find those future models that work, rather than just attacking the current models as unworkable.