The internet has done wonders for music; never before has it been more accessible to explore a bands discography, never before has it been so easy to share tracks or listen to albums in full. As an audience, we are free to dip in, dip out and vary our music listening due to the readily available content on the interweb. In fact it could be argued that as of 2005, the internet seemingly solidified the careers of several bands emerging from the post punk revival genre due to the excessive fanbase that resided on the web; take the Arctic Monkeys for example. The Arctic monkeys blossomed from word of mouth on threads and forums describing them as the next big thing. Now onto their fifth critically acclaimed album, the Monkeys have stood true to the hype from 8 years ago. Would this be possible without the internet? The answer is a solid yes, however in any case it quickened the pace and established an immediate following for the band. This, in my opinion is one of the greatest things to happen to a musician/ band, especially in the case of earning an income. It seems obvious; the bigger the fan base, the more investment into the band themselves. So why has Spotify, a music streaming service with an optional membership, which offers upcoming bands exposure, come under such attack?
I guess you could say Radiohead’s Thom Yorke had something to do with it when he pulled his side project Atoms For Peace debut album off of Spotify. His reasons? Apparently Spotify is a company that is bad for “new music and doesn’t compensate artists.” Lets bear in mind that this is from a man who let the general public pay whatever they wanted for Radiohead’s In Rainbows album. I myself paid five pounds, others paid one penny. So surely Thom’s statement is outweighed by his previous actions?
With Spotify creating playlists that match even the most unique of music tastes, finding the new and obscure is easy. Genres unexplored, sounds otherwise hidden, artists lost in the midst of mainstream talent are now a thing of the past. Through Spotify, I myself have discovered bands that have become some of my favourites, which inevitably have lead me to buy albums, t-shirts and other merchandise of theirs. In an ideal world I would be able to just buy an album at random without hearing it first and play it later. But I can’t. What Thom seems to take out of account here is that, in order to do this you have to be wealthy. Spotify acts then as your own personal talent show, the bands that make the cut ultimately deserve your money. It also means that through this, new artists are able to get a shout.
It has to be noted that Spotify does in fact pay their artists. However it is in literally pennies ,which does not seem fair to the artist themselves. Here is where I can see where Thom is coming from. Yes, Spotify can provide exposure and introduce the public to new bands and musicians, but no, it doesn’t compensate artists trying to make a living. However in Thom’s case and following the success of albums with Radiohead, and sold out tours and shows; I don’t think its going to be a problem anytime soon.