Monday, October 14, 2013

Thom's lament

It’s the scab he can’t help scratching. Thom doesn’t love Spotify, he doesn’t want to play with them anymore – he wants them to go away.

We’ve all been here before but there are no new solutions. Even in this latest interview, he may speak about it in more depth but we hear nothing new. He suggests only that it needs to go away before something new can emerge. Is this true?
Streaming seems to be the future; Spotify has hit a five year anniversary  with 24 million active users. YouTube is older still and its own figures  claim 1 billion unique users every month. In other places you can find a stat that suggests they have 3 billion views per day. To use ancient, pre-digital terminology it would appear that any attempt to change these habits would be akin to closing the stable door after the horse has bolted. We stream, that’s what we do.


Thom’s reasoning is well documented and a view he’s entitled to have as a creator and rights-holder but it doesn’t give us any help on finding a way forward. Where once Radiohead broke the mould in download pricing, they no longer have any radical suggestions to offer.


The truth is also that although Thom may decry the old labels ‘system’ it could be argued that he wouldn’t be in this privileged position without it. Without the patronage of EMI Radiohead may not have achieved the success they’ve had. There is still no system for bands to ‘break big’ without the backing of a major label. There are more routes to market and many more acts trying to get there. We’re in a gridlock where the old names are worshipped like they’re the second coming and the new ones loiter in the background hoping that the spotlight might fall upon them.
In this country radio still has a major part to play in discovering new talent but Spotify is performing a useful role. They send me at least two e-mails a week, one mentions the new music added whilst the other suggests artists based on what they know I’ve listened to. Some of this is new and some old, it’s valuable and has caused me to investigate a few different acts.

Together with the home-screen, which does a similar function whenever I open the application, the level of recommendation is better than other services I’ve used and doesn’t seem to get the praise it deserves. Spotify may not be perfect but what is the alternative?
At the end of it all there are still some of us with an appetite for discovery, a desire to consume new music. I also wish that some of it was made by Radiohead who remain one of our most vital artists.


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