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Radiohead’s Thom Yorke Pulls Out Of Spotify

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Radiohead
posted on 15/07/2013

Spotify is once again making headlines with artists complaining the streaming rates they receive are too low which once again brings up the discussion of whether streaming is indeed the way forward.

I don’t think can anyone can deny the positive factors online streaming music has. Not only does it grasp the modern technology and infrastructure we have available, and by that I mean smart phones and high speed Internet, but it also provides a mechanism for people to find and listen to new music they would either have to invest in upfront, or follow what others tell them to listen to.

You can’t purchase a CD, listen to a few tracks and take it back for a refund because you think it’s ‘crap’. Spotify allows you to sample any tracks on the CD and decide whether you’re going to play them again. If you don’t, the artist doesn’t get any further streaming payments and essentially, is receiving feedback for their work by not playing it.

However, the debate is not necessarily the user behaviour on Spotify, but the relationship between the platform and its artists. Premium users pay £10.00 per month to Spotify for a no adverts, and mobile use. From that, artists get 0.4p per stream, which equates to just £3,200 for 1 million streams, which is understandably a small figure in comparison to album sales or digital downloads.

It’s worth considering that figure is just for one track, and one play. Many users, like me will listen to an album, or certain tracks over and over again, which of course would increase the number of streams/payments for the artist. Something which is not provided by an album once it’s purchased. Through the medium of Spotify, users can also create and share playlists, giving artist content even more exposure and plays.

It’s not new for artists to have a gripe with what they receive back from their work. Many fought digital distribution when it arrived, and then accepted it, and now we’re into the streaming age, some artists are still wary. However, a look at the physical music market shows that the public are in tune with technology and want their content to keep up with it.

So what is the real discussion here? The flaws of a streaming music service? Or the artist’s cut being too small? Luckily, that’s not a decision I have to make but it ultimately has to be resolved as the demand is there for this platform, but artists have to be willing to be a part of it to work. One thing to consider is, should the artist’s cut be comparative to what they would receive from a physical or digital sale? You can’t expect Spotify to pay out the full cost of a track each time it is played. That’s the benefit of streaming, it’s continuous. Every time it’s played, the artist gets something.

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