Article: Responsibility in the age of Streaming


Though the punk thing to do would be to copy the article source and post it to a 3rd party site so Pitchfork/Conde Nast doesn’t get the traffic…


Definition of music?

One of the things I miss most about digital music is the physicality of the cover/case. I love the sound quality, the immediacy, the environmental sustainability of the product. But I don’t like the lack of something to hold, to engage with in a tangible sense.

In another sense, having a physical object representing the music also made it easier to engage with the music directly rather than incidentally - it was a physical action to hold it, to load the LP or cassette. Reading the liner notes was a ritual of engagement.

Is there a way to bring that back to digital in a meaningful way without losing the quality and format benefits?

I think when he talks about credits, this is a very important part of that.

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This is an interesting read but I found the initial premise to be a little confusing. The comparison of [streaming]/[festivals] : [buying]/[intimate show] doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. Sure, I would prefer a small show over a mega concert any day but that doesn’t clearly define the give and take. Spotify doesn’t offer a materially different experience to its users vs. paying for a downloadable track. There is no real pain-point to the average user. So the take away is that artists should “hang in the parking lots” and offer their tracks for free. This might work for some but I imagine that any budding musician is going to have a hard time making a conscious decision to damn the man and NOT to make their tracks available on the largest platform the world has ever seen.

For context, I tend to buy vinyl because I like the liner notes and art that usually accompany them. Also, they usually come with some sort of mechanism for getting a digital copy as well. Best of all worlds to me.



I took that point to say that the commodification of any form reduces intimacy and benefits only corporate interests at the expense of the relationship between band and fan.

I also agree about liner notes, but I don’t think everybody should be forced to buy an LP just because they want the nice art. Maybe selling the art sans LP with a digital download would be a good compromise for those of us who want less plastic in the world?



Regardless of the article, I think this is a good idea anyway and certainly a way that I would consider supporting an artist. Something along the lines of “pay what you want for the album download - purchase a high quality print of the album art and liner notes separately”. I think I see this from time to time on BC. Even some larger bands I think do this - Wilco comes to mind.

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I stopped reading at the comparisons of Spotify to Netflix. Very muddy thought process here.



I love that this was written by a founding member of Galaxie 500, a legendary/important rock band that is definitely getting hosed by the current state of affairs.

I buy plenty of LPs (primarily at shows) and I love Galaxie 500, but I don’t have any Galaxie 500 LPs and my personal Galaxie 500 consumption has probably netted the band members like $0.10. I don’t really know how to support Galaxie 500 in 2018. The music that they made that I love the most is 28-30 years old, as far as I know they aren’t touring, and the band members probably wouldn’t make much more if I went to the record store and bought a repress of On Fire. Is there a good way to support the world’s Galaxie 500s?



Send them a check via USPS?

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Definitely. I’d be up for a “PWYC digital, PWYC (minimum XX) for liner notes and download” where XX is a sustainable price for the album and artwork (because any time you set a minimum people tend to gravitate towards it)" sort of arrangement.

Maybe if there was a QR code or something on the artwork that could be scanned to queue playback on your sound system, too… hmmm!



I remember reading a proposition of solution quite a while ago. Would be great to hear your thoughts on that:

Let’s assume you pay 10£ to Spotify every month. Some amount of it is for Spotify operating and revenues. Let’s say 5£. The remaining 5 are for the royalties. Instead of putting all of that in a big pot and calculating on the total of streams (all users), it could be calculated based on what you personally listen to. So if you only listen to one artist, this artist get the whole 5£. If you listen to 10 artists, they each get a share of the 5£ (pro rata to your listens).

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I’m pretty sure this is the description of how iTunes Music was supposed to work, no?



Regardless of the efficacy of this model, Spotify simply doesn’t have to do it. What do they gain? Sure, maybe some artists come off the fence and make their works available but I have to think that these folks are in the vast minority. Major artists, and by association, major labels, don’t stand to benefit from such an arrangement at all as the aggregate of Spotify traffic makes their streams more valuable than mine in the current model.

In other words, its still quid pro quo. The lesser known artist doesn’t make more money without it coming from somewhere else. Its not going to come Spotify or its shareholders and those that stand to lose the most will also put up the biggest fight. This would only work if that model somehow spurred more folks to pay for subscriptions but I’m not seeing a huge value proposition there to the average user.

EDIT: I should add, it sounds like a reasonable platform. I’m just not sure Spotify cares to go down that path.



Bandcamp seems to have a fair business model?



Very good point, Spotify doesn’t gain anything from it.

As an artist, I put my work there, even though I don’t make money from it. I’d rather make it easy for people to listen to the music. As a user, I stopped using Spotify because I know my money goes in (in my opinion) the wrong pockets.

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My perception is they do but I’m speaking from a position of ignorance. And I currently can’t get to their website (from this computer).



Yeah, I’m happy with Bandcamp at the moment. I like that people can stream for free and pay if they choose, and the cut is not bad.



Semi-off-topic, I had no idea that Spotify commissioned its own projects.



Some of Spotify’s original music is algorithmic. No human beings were compensated in the production of this “music”. Part of the whole lean-back movement towards making all music into muzak.

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The only unreasonable part of what you suggested is the USPS method. Digital money transfer makes this extremely simple. If someone uses and gets enjoyment out of a free service and feel like the creator deserves monetary recompense for their effort, then one absolutely should just donate some of their funds.



The payment method is really unimportant and beside the point.

The point is: we make this far more complex than we need to. Bandcamp is the exception. You pay the artist. You get music. Bandcamp takes a (very reasonable) cut.