So, I write Rock, RIP, which I'd had in mind for a while, and then this happens: Taylor Swift Catalog Removed From Spotify by Andrew Flanagan.
Not exactly, of course. Actually, I knew that story, but ignored it.
Because I don't care.
I literally have no opinion on Taylor Swift, including on her decision to pull her music from Spotify.
Author Laird Barron shared this article, Rich as Fuck Taylor Swift Pulls All Her Music Off Spotify by Aleksander Chan. I have an opinion on this article, that I share with Mr. Barron, is complete fucking horseshit, but still no opinion on Ms. Swift or her decision.
In the discussion there, Making Cents by Damon Krukowski of Galaxie 500 and Damon & Naomi was posted. I believe there are some similar articles out there, mostly by artists at a similar level of success. He raises a lot of interesting questions about services like Spotify. Some people respond to that with "Buy physical media!" as a conclusive answer. I'm sure Ms. Swift, and others like her, would largely accept if we all simply made a direct purchase, even if that is a download file from Amazon.com or iTunes, and I'll take that as the default position in this discussion, as I think too much of that discussion is different.
Of course, that assumes that's the whole question of Spotify and such, doesn't it?
On the other hand, I have a lot of Spotify playlists, and Pandora stations, for that matter, that play mostly things I own. Let's look at Kiss, because they played such a part in the last post and have a number of other points worth noting. So, I have over the years purchased quite a number of Kiss albums. This does not include their output between Animalize and Revenge. I was given the Kiss Box Set as a gift and that does include songs from that period.
For me, having that Spotify playlist means I don't have to rip and re-rip all of those CDs or move them around from device to device, even though I do own the physical versions. So, if I'm listening to Kiss on my phone as I ride the bus, every fraction of a cent Kiss gets from my listening is on top of the money I've already spent. And, in the case of albums I've never bought and never will buy, a couple extra fractions of a cent for the small number of songs I do have on there despite never having purchased.
Off the top of my head, this is also true for 7 Year Bitch, The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Alice Cooper, Steve Earle, Roky Erickson, Hank3, Judas Priest, MC5, The Monkees, Motörhead, Rick Nelson, Nirvana, Prince, Van Halen, The Velvet Underground and ZZ Top.
Almost all of the times I'm listening to those artists on Spotify, it's because I'm away from the physical media. Every fraction of a cent made from those listens is on top of the money I've already spent on the physical media. And I don't have to worry about how much space is on my phone which albums are or aren't ripped to my laptop if I'm out. Nor do I have to be concerned what mood I might be in before I leave. Worse than that, the night before I leave.
Is that the only thing I use it for? Well, of course not. As I said before, I discover new artists, which again, might be fractions of a penny, but is fractions of a penny more than the nothing they'd make if I never heard of them, so that's something. And it's worth more than just those fractions of a penny. It's also the shares of their music I might make on social media as well as normal day-to-day social being. Not to mention, potential purchases down the road when I have the money to afford to make purchases such as that, not to mention live shows I might attend or t-shirts I might get.
Does all that add up? Well, obviously not.
Plenty of other people are only listening to these albums on Spotify and honestly, as much as I'd like to claim better, I'm moving that way myself, and I love to buy stuff and own stuff.
The trouble I have with the whole rock is dead rhetoric is that it assumes that the world gone by is an ideal and we're moving away from that ideal.
But who all was that an ideal for? Big, big artists. Big, big record companies.
And while Mr. Krukowski's article raises the concerns that this new market is worse, or, at best, not better for smaller artists. That's something I think we need to look for improvements to the new ways for. The old way isn't coming back, and for the most part I think "Good fucking riddance!"
The general success of iTunes and Spotify shows that convenience was at least as big an issue as price.
As I said, and let me be blunt, I am paying a monthly charge for a service that allows me the convenience of playing every Nirvana song wherever I want to listen to them, even though I've already bought all of their fucking albums already! More than goddamn once!
So, instead of focusing the dialog on why the new ways are inherently bad, let's look to what we want them to become. Have we even begun that conversation? I haven't heard it at all.