Sunday, March 30, 2014

Cloud music

A year and then some ago I began writing a post about cloud music, and while I didn't get far, now is an opportune time to revisit the subject. Here's what I managed to write all that time ago:
"Spotify and the likes have lately been gaining massive popularity around the world. They have been toted as the future of music distribution, and while that may be true, and I don't see myself as some sort of luddite, I haven't as of yet made these services a part of my musical experience."
 Now, since I wrote this, it took me a year before I signed up for Spotify. Why? Simply put, I thought it superfluous to use in addition to all the records I was buying. I suppose I thought I have little enough time to listen to the records I already own and wouldn't need a nigh limitless source of new music to distract me. I may have been right.

At the end of 2013, I decided I'd limit the amount of records I buy to 1 per month, and this gave me the idea to sign up for Spotify, if purely for the purpose of not being completely thrown out of the loop with regards to new releases. What I didn't imagine was that I'd get so hooked on the discover feature: based on my statistics on, at the time of signing up for Spotify I had listened to just under one thousand different artists or bands; now that figure is past 1,100. I have found myself steering away from the bands I've known and towards new stuff, of which I've found a metric shitton.

Then how do I feel about this? After realising my changed behaviour, I have tried to listen to old favourites as well as finding new ones, but the fact is that my listening habits have undergone a distinct shift in focus. I still listen to vinyls, every now and then I get a vinyl kick, especially if I have company, but just the fact that it's now that much easier to look up new stuff when someone mentions it has been a kind of a minor revolution, as I rarely could be bothered to go traipsing around youtube or, *gasp*, myspace (is myspace even a thing anymore?). Then again, this whole thing is still so new to me that I might not be really accustomed to it yet.

Oh, and I still take my ipod on the road instead of using Spotify on my phone, if for no other reasons than the inevitable battery drain and patchy mobile network that gives me trouble even when just browsing.

When on the subject of Spotify, what also comes to mind is the royalties question. I'm sure most of you have read about how Spotify pays artists some ridiculously low amount per track listened. Well, I thought about this and I think it makes sense in a way. When you buy an album from the store for $20, best case scenario is the band gets something like $10 (probably a lot less, it's been a while since I read anything about how the profits are distributed), and then you can, theoretically, listen to the album non stop for 60 years. Of course, most people own more than the one record and they are affected by physical wear and tear and probably won't last that long, but you can get a huge amount of listens out of a cd or an lp. Some of my first acquisitions I must've listened to hundreds of times (later transfering them onto my computer to prevent the cds from wearing out), and still Metallica has made only like $30 out of all their music I've bought, with the retailer, the record company, and the cd factory all taking their cut. And I listened the hell out of my Metallica cds back in 1999. Now, I can only estimate the figures, but if I were to listen to Metallica as much as I did back then, I'd probably make them the same $30 in no time. The only difference is back then I had something like 15 cds, 7 of them Metallica, and now I own more than 1,400 cds and lps total, and I have Spotify's library at my disposal.

The point I'm trying to make here is the artists are getting paid by actual mileage rather than the imagined maximum. Therefore, as an artist myself (though not yet available on Spotify; will have to work on that fact) I implore you to consider the artist, love the music and play the shit out of stuff you like.

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