How to fix Spotify

Giving away music for essentially free is a problem that Spotify is both remedying and exacerbating. How to make the platform more musician friendly?

Emulate freemium app strategy. If a song is favorited or an artist streamed for a certain number of times/songs, encourage the listener to support that artist. Establish kickstarter-esque “projects” for every artist and fund their next album in exchange for pre-established thank-you’s such as merch, special edition music, pre-orders, vinyl, etc.

Make it easy to support artists via premium subscriptions and dedicate a certain amount of their payment to monetary support for the artists they listened to most, or allow the subscriber to choose where that slice of their money goes.

Auto-translate (with pre-approval) streams of a certain artist to Facebook likes and Twitter tweets.

What are your thoughts?

On Taylor Swift, Spotify and Me

“Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is. I hope they don’t underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.” -source

I don’t really listen to or think that much about Taylor Swift, (no particular reason, I just don’t) and this quote is old news, but I wholeheartedly agree with the concept of value she raises. I don’t think the fault for devaluation lands squarely on Spotify or any one listener (myself included), but it is, from my bombastic/genuine point of view, a cultural warning sign that we denigrate the value of the arts to the extent that we do. I think it’s a big deal that someone in her position is taking a stand, regardless for whom she is speaking.

At the risk of revealing where on the totem pole I currently squat, I will say that in order to pay for my subscription to (the ad-free version of) Spotify, my songs would have to be streamed more than* 1,574 times per month. That’s not a HUGE number of plays and many artists get a whole lot more than that. But I’m still at the level where every 100 streams, no, every SINGLE stream I’m REALLY happy that people are listening to the music I’ve created.

By the same token, I currently feel a bit obliged to “undervalue” my music and make it available on Spotify because I am anxious to have it be discover-able. I don’t know where this leaves me, ethically. I still feel really certain that a certain someone finds my stuff and feels something kindred and strong. Valuable. And I can’t think of a better way to make that happen. I’d rather have people listening to what I’ve created, which took thousands and thousands of hours to create, than to have it sit in a nostalgia box somewhere.

Spotify’s rebuttal seemed to be basically “better to get a little money than nothing at all”, but I just don’t see it ever deciding to pay any more out than the very bare minimum. It’s a corporate entity, not a philanthropist organization, which is fine. Spotify is probably also just as much a demographic research pool as Facebook is, ie. the “art” of music is very much secondary to its primary goal of market research.

But I do think that Spotify can do much better. I do think that music has value, and I do laud Ms. Swift.

*that’s at the highest potential rate that I’ve seen in my payouts, which hovers around $0.00635 per stream, sometimes it is half that, and I couldn’t tell you why. Also, commercials interrupting music is disgusting, I don’t care if that sounds pretentious.

the cut

Random lyrics to a song that never quite made the cut

On and on and on your beauty
like alarm clocks going off at 2 in the morning
clean your wings and fly away angel
before the smog of growing old swallows you
whole.

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Random Midnight Door Track

I’ve been sorta kinda organizing my back log of tracks now that I’ve got a good chunk of my projects sorted out. It’s funny what you find just sitting there.

This is an instrumental that is kinda wandering and pretty. Cellos swirling, as they tend to do, and a kind of trance-y beat. I must have, well I’m sure of it to tell the truth, recorded live with loops.

Valley Of Gold – Instrumental Version

I just felt like putting this up tonight.

It’s a fine Summer night. Is it the end of Summer? That’s what I hear. Me and Cinco are tending to the empty home while the rest of the pack is off at FYF Fest. Slowdive is playing. Hmm. I wish I was there. It was sold out.

I’ve mostly finished up on a big buffet of music I’m going to serve up in the near future. I’m happy with the work done and mostly the feeling of the songs.

Los Angeles for me: still and ever just past my fingertips somehow. It’s there, I push at it, brush it aside like curtains. But I have yet to pass through.

It’s a good city after all, and there are just so many surfaces you could attach your mirrors to here. Everyone is beautiful and larger than life, even if just in their own minds.

There aren’t country lanes, nature revery is rare, and the general balance leans one way and then the next, undecided. It’s menacing and inviting at once.

Blah blah poetic yada yada. Meaning: I’m here, making music in my dear studio with my dear cellos and my dear thoughts and I’m not on that damn stage at this damn point in this damn city.

That’s my check in.

Hope this version of this song fits with your time and place.

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F# (F Sharp) is the note that I need to play most often in my life. That's because on my first cello the F# was a "Wolf Tone" or "Wolf Note"… legend has it that every cello has one, a note that which resonates so dissonantly with the tuning of the instrument that when you go to play it it comes out sounding like a growl, or a hungry cat. Which, frankly, when I was first learning could have been any note. But lo and behold today I am doing this super intensive recording playing one note at a time for a long time and even though the F# Wolf Tone is not pronounced as this instrument as my first cello, my fingers/ear/brain have learned to BELIEVE that it will sound bad. And then it does! How's that for intentionality?