I fought the Spot and the Spot won.
Wednesday, July 5, 2023
It's humiliating, but the moment has arrived when I realized that my boycott of Spotify is only hurting my fans. I was at a party at my bass player, Jesse Flack’s home this 4th of July, and I couldn’t play my new album for people there because it wasn't on Spotify, and Jesse only uses that platform and Pandora for streaming music. Utopia Revisited is on Pandora, but I realized it was going to be a chore to get the full album to play from that app, as it likes to shuffle away to other artists in its algorithm.
My objections to Spotify are significant. The company worked during their formation with a few major labels to lower royalty rates to artists in favor or higher dividends, and established a most favored nation clause to their catalogues that established the low royalty rates across the board. They also offered Joe Rogan an exclusive deal in the high millions (money they didn't have to pay music creators, apparently) who has continually pushed guests who promote disinformation about vaccines during the pandemic.
Ethically, Spotify has not moved a whit from its crappy positions on artist royalties and disinformation, and why should it? The masses aren't willing to move to another streaming platform, regardless of what Neil Young and Joni Mitchell say or do.
Also, as an independent artist, I’m completely alone in my dissent. I’ve visited with and talked to other indie artists who rely solely on Spotify for their streams and personal playlists. Spotify enjoys a market share in the 35% range, beating out Apple Music by more than double. The others are not anywhere close. I've received dozens of comments and emails, some in support and some in harsh disagreement with me on my move to pull their favorite songs from the platform. I’ve been off Spotify for 18 months now and it seems it’s time to relent.
It’s sad to see that over and over again, ardent fans of independent music talk up their support for their favorite artists while continuing to drive down the value of their work. None of my Patreon patrons, bandcamp supporters, or eventual paid subscribers here fall into this category, of course. You support me directly and I am deeply grateful.
Spotify won’t notice my return, but my fans will. I'm microwaving the crow now, shredding my cardboard protest sign, and rejoining the inevitable enshitification of the music world once again.
I welcome your thoughts.