Spotting Spotify

Like most people who pay any attention to the web, I’ve had a general understanding of the Spotify music service. This is a service attainable either by viewing ads, or paying fairly cheap subscription fees, that gives you access to tons of music, including established musicians as well as unknown obscurities (for instance, my first album is available on Spotify. I have no idea how it got there.) Basically, it’s a legal Napster.

While I understood all this, I didn’t really “get” Spotify until my niece showed it to me this past weekend. I sat around browsing the available collection and discovered at least a dozen albums I’d been meaning to buy. I’ve, of course, since downloaded Spotify, so there’s no reason to purchase these albums.

To me, this is really the nail in the coffin of the career of an independent artist making original music. Music has become totally devalued.

Some idiots, and the Spotify company itself, object to that statement. They point out that every time someone streams your music, you (theoretically) get paid. The problem with this is that you’re getting paid nothing; 1 million streams is equal to about 1000 bucks or so. That just ain’t gonna happen for your average musician.

Instead, they argue you should use Spotify as a promotional tool to sell CDs of your songs or get people to come to your shows. Obviously, using free music to tempt people to buy CDs of the same music (which they’re getting for free) doesn’t even make any sense. As for getting people to come to your shows… that might kind of work, but most shows for original music pay next to nothing. Some people argue that giving away music for free will help populate shows when musicians go on a tour. The problem with this is that it’s impossible to hold down any kind of meaningful job and tour, so you basically have to commit to a life of poverty to be a touring musician (of original music.) On top of that, tours cost money for gas, lodging etc. so whatever revenue is being lost from CD sales has to be made up by increased attendance, and then some. I just don’t see that working for the vast majority of musicians I know.

The smartest thing for any musician to do at this point is to order hundreds of brain eating maggots off the Internet and then lure those maggots into your ear, nose and mouth holes and sit back as they devour your brain.

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