Special Assignments Reporter
During the past few months, multiple artists have had some or all of their work removed from the music streaming service, Spotify. Most of the artists are claiming they’re not receiving enough compensation from people streaming their music.
Taylor Swift was the first artist to start this trend when she removed her entire catalogue from the site on Sept. 3.
Jason Aldean soon followed, removing his record Old Boots, New Dirt despite the album being streamed more than three million times during the first week of its release.
Since then, two more country artists, Justin Moore and Brantley Gilbert have removed some of their work as well.
Swift, Moore and Gilbert are all signed to Big Machine Label Group who has had a similar situation with Spotify in the past. When Gilbert’s album Just As I Am was released in May of 2014, the label withheld it from Spotify for 60 days before it was available for streaming. Today only one song from the album, Bottoms Up, is available to be streamed on the site.
Spotify users who search for the removed content on the site are greeted with this message: “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 minds soon.”
Ever since these incidents, music fans and artists alike have been debating if the labels and musicians who removed their content are just being selfish.
Unfortunately, there’s no clear yes or no answer to this question.
Musicians are like any other person out there; they want to be paid for the work that they are doing. Even though they aren’t producing visual art like of a photographer or painter, they are still artists and should be compensated for their work.
That being said, these musicians need to realize that the music industry is changing. Every day thousands of songs are illegally downloaded or played on websites such as YouTube and the artist doesn’t receive compensation. With Spotify, the musician is paid for each time their music is streamed.
The creators of Spotify realized that the music industry was changing and they started the company with the intention of reducing music piracy.
“Our whole reason for existence is to help fans find music and help artists connect with fans through a platform that protects them from piracy and pays them for their amazing work,” Spotify creator Daniel Ek said in a blog on the site regarding this issue.
Since it began in 2008, Spotify has paid more than $2 billion for the music that’s streamed on it site. This is $2 billion more than the artists and labels would have received if the music was being pirated instead.
The artists who are also blaming Spotify for the decline in music sales and downloads need to realize that Spotify isn’t the sole reason for this change. For example, Spotify didn’t go live in Canada until the end of September, yet music downloads during the first half of 2014 declined just as much in Canada as they did in other places.
Artists can get mad all they want, but the fact is that the music industry is constantly changing. If an artist wants to be successful in this industry, they are going to have to change with it.
While I don’t believe that music should be totally free, I think it’s ridiculous for a major artist like Swift to get mad because she doesn’t think she’s making enough money. It seems greedy and unfair to fans who simply can’t afford to buy an album.
Artists need to think about their client base before they start complaining about their lack of royalties. A major portion of the people buying music today are younger people. Young adults these days are on tight budgets and buying college textbooks usually takes priority over purchasing a new Taylor Swift album.
Artists today also make money from other sources besides album sales that they should take into consideration, such as concert ticket sales and merchandise, which provide revenue for musicians. A quick search through Swift’s online merchandise store reveals a huge assortment of items including shirts, headbands, guitar picks, perfume, bracelets and bags. For Swift to complain that she’s not making enough money from streaming when she practically has a small online department store seems absurd to me.
The debate between artists and music streamers doesn’t have a clear solution yet. Both groups are going to have to compromise, but I think that musicians need to consider their fan base before they make any major decisions about removing their content from Spotify.
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