Monday, October 14, 2013

David's discourse

We’ll possibly get to a stage where the Spotify debate is over, but maybe not. David Byrne has chipped in with a long and lucid justification of his feelings.

He differs from Thom Yorke et al in one crucial aspect, he seems quite rational – there’s no doubt that this is what the debate needs.
One point he makes clearly is that if Spotify and other streaming services replace the traditional forms of how albums are consumed, ie we all stream thus we no longer buy, then the financial model will not fully support musicians. Of course it could be that we’re a long way from this point and by the time we reach it there will be different revenue structures in place – the way artists deal with labels is changing all the time for example.

It may also be that streaming services also start to generate content that they fund. This already happens with the likes of Netflix (House Of Cards, etc) so it’s possible that Spotify could eventually pay for artists. What they’ll be happy to pay for is another matter of course; I’d stake my life that it won’t be avant-garde Peruvian nasal-flute tunes.
Despite some turbulence the live market continues to under-pin the music industry to a degree. It possibly does this because it offers a unique experience that can’t be pirated or obtained by nefarious means – but maybe it also does it because the ‘consumer’ is at least guaranteed an experience they will enjoy. They know they’ll probably be hearing new songs but they’re also likely to hear the hits.

There’s a reason ‘greatest hits’ compilations out-sell the bulk of artists’ other releases – people want the hit songs, they want the singles. The ’album’ may still be doing well but it’s the albums with the big hits that still sell the best.
It was always this way. Perhaps the argument is not so much about how we consume but what we want to consume. I don’t think most recording artists will like the result of that debate either. 


Addendum (15/10). MusicAlly questioned Byrne's quoted figures for Daft Punk streams - which is important and infuriating. One would hope that before spouting stats that will be widely quoted all concerned would check that those stats are correct. This happens far too frequently and distorts an important discussion. We need to be able to trust someone.

"I can't seem to face up to the facts"


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