U2 force-fed their new album to the world for free and ended up the enemy. Taylor Swift took hers away and ended up a hero.
Swift changed her narrative in 2014, and it wasn’t about ditching country or dating out of the public eye. She became the face of skepticism over how technology has changed music, during a year when the streaming music economy was debated more than ever — not only among artists, whose wellbeing is affected greatly, but in the court of public opinion as well. … Read More
If you ever need a reminder that all those rose-tinted remembrances of the pre-internet music industry do not account for the full story, look no further than Steve Albini’s seminal 1993 essay for The Baffler. It’s called, simply, “The Problem With Music.” In it, Albini details the flaws of the major-label music system in actual numbers and simple math — something that’s not done often enough in trade and consumer publications alike when it comes to how musicians actually make their money. … Read More
Three years ago, just as The Black Keys were in the midst of ascending to their current arena-rock status, the duo did something kind of groundbreaking for a mid-level major label band: they said “thanks but no thanks” to Spotify. It was a strategy their manager, Q Prime’s John Peets, told me they’d be monitoring through the record cycle for 2011’s El Camino. Based on the fact that the band’s No. 1 album Turn Blue, released this past May, does not appear on the streaming behemoth, I’m left to believe the strategy worked for them. Financial outcome aside, the Black Keys bellyached all over the place about Spotify’s unjustly low royalty rates, to the extent that I chuckle when I see what it says on their Spotify page: “The artist or their representatives have decided not to release this album on Spotify. We are working on it and hope they will change their mind soon.” … Read More
Alternate Routes is a column from Flavorwire contributor and WFMU DJ Jesse Jarnow, in which he provides maps to far-flung music, exploring sounds distributed solely outside the Big 3 of Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon.
Perhaps Spotify’s most grievous sin against music, besides its royalty rates, is how boring it is. Besides sales revenues, fidelity, and production credits, the streaming service makes albums feel as if they were trapped inside a listening station at the mall, or worse. There is the paucity of metadata that shuffles long discographies by corporate licensing dates, erasing albums outside the company’s territorial agreements, and deeming artists’ histories as irrelevant to their precious content. In terms of providing hot-and-cold running audio for the regions of the world covered by the relevant sub-clauses, Spotify is a miraculous utility, but is as divorced from real-life musical networks as a glass of water is from a rainstorm. … Read More
That’s Prof Pop to you! In addition to his BBC Radio 6 DJ post over the last year, the Godfather of Punk delivered BBC Music’s annual John Peel Lecture Tuesday night (October 13) in an hour-long presentation at the Lowry theater in Salford, Manchester. His topic — “Free Music In a Capitalist Society” — was a fascinating one, particularly for a musical icon who has moved in and out of DIY and commercial realms for much of his career, eventually having little shame over licensing “Lust For Life” to a Carnival Cruise commercial (among other ads). “If I want to make money, well, how about selling car insurance?” he postured. “At least I’m honest. It’s an ad, and that’s all it is. If I had to depend on what I actually get from sales, I’d be tending bars between sets.” … Read More
“Thom Yorke hates Spotify” is one of the first Google auto-fills that pop up for me when I enter the Radiohead frontman’s name. I can’t say I remember ever googling that particular phrase, perhaps because I know it to be a fact. The series of tweets he rattled off about music’s most popular streaming service, along with frequent producer and Atoms For Producer bandmate Nigel Godrich, have become beef as classic as a Big Mac. Still, Yorke really did put his money where his mouth is when he removed portions of his discography (Atoms for Peace’s AMOK and his 2006 solo debut, The Eraser) from the streaming service. … Read More
Good news for Radiohead fans who are sick of pretending 2011’s The King of Limbs was a significant release: front… Read More