70% of Nothing is Nothing

On Spotify payouts:

“Here’s the simple fact that no one wants to talk about. Spotify says it pays out seventy per cent of its revenues to rights holders. Well, that’s very nice, that’s lovely. But if I’m making a shoe, and it costs me a hundred dollars to make it, and the retailer is selling that shoe for ten dollars, then I don’t care if he gives me seventy per cent, I don’t care if he gives me one hundred per cent—I’m going out of business. Dead is dead.”

“Why I Love Spotify and Think You Should Too”

Why I Love Spotify and Think You Should Too | Pansentient League

“Well, there’s a lot of misconceptions and rumours about Spotify,” I started. “And most folk like us, who grew up with vinyl, don’t seem to ‘get’ it. It’s a harder sell if you’re used to owning music instead of renting it.”

Rusty looked at me quizzically.

“But what do you write about?” he asked. “Why do you think Spotify is so great?”

So this is what I told him:

The writing for the music download market is on the wall. Articles like this by Jer White make me think of jumping in head first to Spotify and getting started now.

In the past few months Spotify added the collection model, which helps if you’re like me and are against the idea of having a playlist for everything. Where Spotify falls short for me is in the organization of a collection. I like having smart playlists and viewing things by genre. Spotify would rather you give that all up and just let them take care of it through their radio and playlist/mixtape curation.

Sometimes I wonder maybe that is a better model so I can stop maintaining tags and playlists and start listening to music.

The other rub is that if you have music from independent services, like Bandcamp and Soundcloud, how does that fit into the streaming model? It can’t, not unless you’re allowed to add it to your own collection and treat it as if it’s part of the music service. The closest anybody has gotten to that is iTunes Match and Google Music (but, imo, if your desktop app is a web app, you blew it).

Until that’s resolved my use of Spotify will be a free account I use for first listens.

It’s not lost on me that a lot of what keeps me using iTunes is that I have a lot of care and energy into my current library. However, if I were 11 years old and didn’t have the baggage of a collection I’ve built for over 20 years, I’d probably be ok with streaming music.

SEO For Music

This episode of TLDR, “One Hundred Songs A Day“, is about a guy who’s written 14,000 songs in the same way internet blogs and news sites churn out tons of crappy articles in an attempt to get to the top of Google results for popular searches.

I’m not sure it’s a good thing that the music business now has incentives to create art the same way Buzzfeed does to write top 10 lists.

Thom Yorke vs. Spotify: Rebel Without a Plan

Music Think Tank:

There’s a common thread here. Only established bands who have already made their money are the ones taking the stand against streaming music. New and upcoming bands are more willing to cast a big net to get ears to their music. It’s been proven time and time again that artists make more money off touring than album sales, so why not do everything you can to maximize your exposure to potential new ticket buyers?

I was dead-sure that Daft Punk’s Random Access Memories wouldn’t be on any of these streaming services, but it’s everywhere.

You think that if those new and upcoming bands ever get big they’ll then pull all their stuff from streaming services? Can a band even get that big anymore?

Spotify Retorts

Spotify recently tweeted this link:

Let’s take a look. You can read it all here.

Make no mistake that the reason for the current state of reduced revenues for new artists is piracy, and NOT Spotify.

I would argue that there’s a deeper thing at work here, that’s it’s the devaluation of the art form, not just piracy, that got the recorded music market in this mess. Spotify, Internet Radio, Amazon MP3’s daily deals, and piracy have taught the market that $10 is too much for an album.

It was never meant to be a replacement for the old retail infrastructure, it was meant to make Piracy obsolete by providing an amazing online service, at a reasonable cost to the user/music fan. You cut off Spotify, and you are cutting off your nose to spite your face.

I think there’s a strawman here, but I’m not smart enough to articulate what it is (X is the only solution we have to Y / if you aren’t with us you’re with the terrorists). Neither Yorke nor Godrich are saying these ideas are bad, just the way they’re structured are not going to work in the long run.

If you really want to take issue with someone, take issue with the license holders of your songs and the rate you’ve contractually negotiated with them, not Spotify.

Godrich previously posted that, in their case, their license holders are NOT the problem here.

This isn’t a 1970’s Billy Joel we’re talking about here. You’d think if anybody would have an understanding of how record deals are structured it’s these guys.

The level of awareness generated by Spotify for new artists, having the engine searching your existing playlists and tastes, with the right Spotify applications such as Spotify radio, can bring your music to the ears of millions of new potential fans that just random placement on some bittorent site would never do.

You know how designers are always being told how they should work for free for the exposure and awareness? This is the music equivalent of that. Fuck you, pay me.

You can’t fight the future or the advancement of technology, it is pointless.

There’s the future and advancement of technology, and then there’s the agenda of an entity with major label backing. They are not the same.

Thom Yorke Pulls Music From Spotify

He claims that Spotify is unfair to new artists.

Nigel Godrich:

What’s sustainable and valuable? How about what we had before? You like something and you pay for it. Things that people like rise to the top and enable creators to make more of that stuff. Things that people don’t like leave the market.

On The Media: Who’s gonna pay for this stuff

On The Media on media business models in the _digital age_1.

This week, a special hour on the incredible volume of media available to consumers, and the incredible difficulty of making money for creators.

We are living in the entertainment golden age for consumers.

While they cover things like Spotify and Netflix, what was new to me is how many people latch onto things like Ad Blockers. I don’t use them. I think having an ad in a sidebar is a small price to pay for free content. But some of the ad-block defenders sound like jerks.

Then again, I don’t usually go to sites that deluge their readers with advertisements.

  1. Yeah, I know. I shouldn’t use that term. 

Spotify Does iTunes’s Heavy Lifting

I usually don’t link to forum threads, but this thread on Macrumors about iRadio makes the point I was thinking of writing about.

Originally Posted by aheying7
As a high school student, I can say everyone I know quit using iTunes and uses Spotify exclusively now. That’s what Apple needs to compete with, NOT Pandora. In other words, you should always be able to pick the song like Spotify.

As a college student, I agree with you completely.
Something weird I’ve found: I listen to a lot of music on Spotify on a free plan, and about once a week I find a song I like so much that I buy it on the iOS music store just so I can listen to it on my iPhone. So Spotify basically is doing all the work of convincing me to buy the song, but then Apple is the one collecting the money when I decide to buy it.

Spotify serves as music discovery, but it’s not making the money. Apple is.

Rdio / Spotify iOS Gross

Worship The Glitch notes that Spotify is on the iOS top free apps while Rdio is on the top grossing apps in the music category.

You can’t use Spotify or Rdio on mobile without paying.

This suggests that iOs users download Spotify, but actually use Rdio. 


No. Rdio allows in-app purchases for subscriptions. Spotify doesn’t have in-app purchases for subscriptions. The result is that Rdio grosses more for the App Store than Spotify does.

Rhapsody Offers Sage Advice To Rival Upstarts

Rhapsody’s Jon Maples on how to make streaming services stand-out…or rather, what might not be workng. For example, Paramore’s exclusivity with Rdio:

What’s questionable is what Rdio will really get out of it…For the record, Rhapsody would have loved to offer the record. But we’re not sure if exclusives really do help either the service or the band. Last month we had 30,000 fans play the band in our service. All who pay $10 a month to listen to all music they care to. Which they can do today since Rdio’s exclusive is over.

This is ultimately why I dislike streaming services as my only source of music. Streaming music collections feel as though they’re determined by business deals, not by what I actually like and enjoy.

Music Recommendations

John Siracusa is on this week’s Unprofessional talking about music and recommendations.

Him and the hosts discuss the ugly truth about music recommendations from friends: They don’t really work. They’ve stopped recommending music to their friends because almost all the time they aren’t followed up on. “You gotta check this out” is code for “I like this a lot and you probably won’t like it as much as I do so just ignore what I’m telling you.”

My friends’ tastes vary widely and recommendations from them that hit are rare. Even in 2013 I don’t really know where most of the music recommendations I enjoy come from. I hear new music on music podcasts, or in movies, or I read about it on a blog, or it was recommended through iTunes Genius and Last.fm. In some cases I’m still hearing new music I like on the radio.

This is the problem with social music services. They’ve banked on this idea of “listen with your friends” and it doesn’t work. My friends aren’t good at knowing what I like. They’re good at knowing what they like. Sharing tracks is my least used feature on Spotify. When someone shares a track with me it’s because they’re playing games. The last track someone sent me on Spotify was Holding Out For A Hero. I can’t let that slide, so I have to respond with something equally silly – like Let’s Hear It For The Boy.

The ultimate music recommendation service would be like if Last.fm became more Twitterized.1 I want there to be a site where I can post music to a wall, and follow other people with similar tastes (who probably aren’t my friends) and check out what they like. That’s what This is my jam is trying to be. I haven’t checked it out in a bit. I wish I could skip the player and have music from people I follow go directly into the Spotify inbox.2

Once in a great while music recommendations from friends work. This morning Joel told me I should check out Disasterpeace’s Atebite and the Warring Nations. At just a $1 I couldn’t resist. I probably wouldn’t have heard about it any other way.

  1. It’s boggling to me why Last.fm doesn’t send me an email each week saying “here’s what people are listening to” or “here’s what your friends and neighbors are listening to.” Last.fm should be this glue between every single music service (iTunes, Spotify, Rdio…even Winamp can be set up to scrobble) and recommendations from friends or whoever else you choose to follow. But the site’s functions have gone largely unchanged since 2005 or earlier. Following someone still requires they follow you back

  2. There is a This is My Jam app for Spotify, but it doesn’t work like that. It shows me my jams. I just want a feed of jams from people I follow. TIMJ doesn’t do that in fear of “duplicating” the TIMJ website experience. But I don’t want the website experience. I want something better.