Julian Casablancas of The Strokes and Cult Records has been speaking to Billboard about his various music projects, his record label and dealing with the creative process. But buried in the middle of the interview he talks about his dislike and distrust of most streaming services – and what their rise means for artists and labels.
“In terms of what a label should be… no one knows what’s going on or what to do,” he says. “Even a major label, they have their relationships, but it’s all about Spotify. I don’t use Spotify.” He describes streaming services as “the new MTV” and, as these all-powerful gatekeepers grow in power “they’re all just ripping everyone off”.
He, in keeping with The Strokes’ retro aesthetic, just wants to keep his business dealings analogue – talking about the importance of radio, venues and promoters for acts. “You can have your online existence, but trying to suck on Spotify’s sweet sweetness is just a waste of time for me,” he snorts. He also reveals he only discovers music through radio. “Everyone I know who’s listening to Spotify or Apple Music doesn’t discover anything interesting,” he claims. “When I ask them to pull up a cool song, they don’t even have one.”
The assorted editors at these DSPs would obviously beg to differ, but Casablancas is – like Margaret Thatcher in a vintage leather jacket – not for turning. At a push, however, he concedes that one digital service warrants a begrudging thumbs up from him. “If you have to choose a streaming service, I would say YouTube is the only one, even though that’s kind of not what it is.”