In 2007, Radiohead independently released their album “In Rainbows” online and allowed fans to set the price of download. This direct communication between the band and their fans is how Thom Yorke, of Radiohead and Atoms for Peace, wishes the larger music industry would operate.

 

With more than 40 million active users, Spotify demonstrates the firm grip that music streaming services have taken on the music industry. Yorke views the services as unnecessary, parasitic intermediaries between artist and audience. Consequently, he chose to pull Atoms for Peace’s work from Spotify.

 

Talking Heads’ David Byrne has expressed a similar distaste for Spotify. He points out that services like Spotify generate income for labels, not for musicians; overall, Spotify is beneficial for labels, consumers, and web services — but again, not for musicians. Like Yorke, Byrne has chosen to pull material from Spotify.

Yorke and Byrne have taken stands against the threat that Spotify represents for music. (wired.com)

Yorke (left) and Byrne (right) have taken stands against the threat that Spotify represents for music. (wired.com)

Services like Spotify silence and neglect the musician. Artists are excluded from the conversation between streaming service executives and label executives. Furthermore, artists only receive between .006 and .0084 of a cent per streamed song.

 

Byrne also claims that Spotify does not jeopardize the well being of well-established artists like himself and Yorke, but the well being of emerging artists. Indeed, Spotify controls not only the fiscal side of music but also the canonical side of music. Since Spotify chooses which music to make available, the service controls what music to feature to its mass market of users. Jazz, classical, and indie musicians, for instance, are marginalized and disproportionately silenced by Spotify.

 

The continued expansion of music streaming services will only continue to harm musicians and hinder creativity. Radiohead’s self-releasing of “In Rainbows” demonstrates that a more direct communication between artist and audience is possible. This is a more natural and respectful approach toward music sharing that grants artists and their music the self-reliance and dignity that they deserve.

 

What platform(s) do you use to listen to music? Comment below, or find me on Twitter @ryanlawlessness