Is There Room for Spotify Among Record Collectors?

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Spotify keeps on growing, but can listeners who are passionate about supporting artists justify using it? The following is an excerpt of a post written by Matt Gluskin, who runs analog audio blog Wax Times.

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Spotify’s ambivalence toward what musicians deem acceptable wages plagues the service provider. Overshadowing what seems like the ultimate exposure opportunity, it is encumbering artists and media outlets in a neverending argument reminiscent of unionized labor disputes. With growing social acceptance for streaming services building momentum based on recent stats that show dramatic growth over the last four years, who’s really losing out when an album isn’t streaming?

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The convenience factor makes Spotify a go-to for just about anything music related, in similar fashion to the original marriage of the iPod and iTunes (or MP3s in general). Spotify’s adoption is even more evident when considering that its user base generated through the Facebook app is around 34.46 million, which is surprisingly less than competitor Pandora’s roughly 73.4 million streaming listeners. Despite Pandora’s larger audience, they too suffer the same quizzical problem; artists want more money. It seems that artists taking a larger cut of streaming profits, a thought streaming music providers are squabbling over indefinitely, means imposing higher prices for the services offered or dividing up the revenue equilaterally. After all, without the musicians, what is Spotify?

The simplest consumer thinking points to one conclusion: If a user has been offered a service at $9.99 a month over the last 4 years, what are the chances that they’ll buy into the same service at an additional $1? This is a risky proposition for any service provider whose financials could take a dive if large scale user abandonment followed rate hikes. Look what happened to Netflix after a near 60% increase in 2011. Just like taxes, people don’t want to pay more once they’ve grown accustom to paying less.

Infographic: Has Netflix Hit Rock Bottom? | Statista
 

As a collector – and Spotify user – I routinely interact with music in a variety of ways. For me, Spotify is an accessory to a listening preference that is not digitally based or readily mobile. Records aren’t easy to carry around. They’re heavy in any quantity and, most of all, fragile. What options are there? I’ve already purchased the album, contributing what has been deemed an acceptable price for the music. I go out of my way to get as close to an artist as possible, putting money directly into their hands at merch tables, which is one of the few ways to be certain revenue isn’t filling anyone else’s coffers. Sometimes there’s a download card, but it’s just as easy to queue it up on Spotify. Am I still obligated to stand with the opposition despite having actually paid for the music?

There are other Spotify users like me. Casually listening to familiar music or exploring new sounds and eventually translating that appreciation into a purchase of physical media or legit downloads. This type of consumer impact may hold a large amount of undiscovered leverage in an argument that seems to have no middle ground.

Read the rest of the post here.

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10 Responses

  1. Versus

    “suffer the same quizzical problem; artists want more money.”

    This is “quizzical”???

    Reply
  2. Versus

    “Just like taxes, people don’t want to pay more once they’ve grown accustom to paying less.”

    …but they will if they have to. Everything goes up in price: groceries, rent, movie tickets, pizza slices, subway rides. Why should music be an exception?

    Furthermore, the music market price has been distorted to an unrealistically low level after years of theft/piracy/”sharing”. So the prices never should have been this low in the first place.

    Reply
  3. Versus

    That Netflix graph is deceptive. Please show the rest of the graph, to the present.

    Reply
  4. jw

    Wow.

    This is some seriously flawed reasoning. Netflix stock taking a dip only proves that Wall Street can’t predict consumer behavior. Netflix’s user base continued to grow throughout that period (which was a transition between DVD rentals & streaming, mind you), Wall Street got back on board, & NFLX grew from it’s low of ~$53 to it’s current price of $437.46 per share. That’s like 820% growth. lol

    I don’t know if I’ve ever seen such a poor attempt at making a point.

    C’mon, Paul. You’ve gotta vet this stuff better.

    Reply
  5. JAIO

    I’ve already purchased the album, contributing what has been deemed an acceptable price for the music. Am I still obligated to stand with the opposition despite having actually paid for the music?

    Flawed reasoning. You purchased a piece of plastic – a conveyance mechanism, with a limited use license. In the same way that plastic/vinyl is a conveyance mechanism, so do is digitally delivered data. If you pay for TV via cable or satellite, and you can pick and choose what to download or stream, your price point varies. You may pay for Sirius – a conveyance vehicle – no different than Pandora, Spotify, Live365 or any other. You may expect others (advertisers) to pay for it, or you can purchase the right to access w/ benefits. But you did not purchase “music.”

    Reply
  6. Deezelmama

    Who won’t pay more?
    I would.
    I am a Spotify subscriber,I buy physical product, and I go to concerts, I also listen to free to air radio, which in Australia pays royalties to songwriters. I appreciate music. I also run a record label.
    Charge me the cost of a coffee extra per month for the luxury of being able to access such a wealth of song and sound. Most subscribers can afford it- and I’d say if your subscribing, then you believe that music has value, and I think most would pay. I actually would relish the opportunity to make streaming services viable all around. Charge me an extra dollar a month if thats what it takes to pay musician’s for their time, energy and creativity. The Music industry like the environment is perhaps in chaos because the actual value of an item, be it a song or a product is not correctly priced in our “consumer is king” pandering “Age of Entitlement”
    Rather than worrying about who won’t pay more-use your power and charge what it’s worth. And perhaps the Directors of these services should pay themselves a little less as well,, just a thought.

    Reply
  7. Deezelmama

    Absolutely there’s room for the question. But if your a collector surely everything wasn’t bought at a bargain shop!
    Who won’t pay more?
    I would.
    I am a Spotify subscriber,I buy physical product, and I go to concerts, I also listen to free to air radio, which in Australia pays royalties to songwriters. I appreciate music. I also run a record label.
    Charge me the cost of a coffee extra per month for the luxury of being able to access such a wealth of song and sound. Most subscribers can afford it- and I’d say if your subscribing, then you believe that music has value, and I think most would pay. I actually would relish the opportunity to make streaming services viable all around. Charge me an extra dollar a month if thats what it takes to pay musician’s for their time, energy and creativity. The Music industry like the environment is perhaps in chaos because the actual value of an item, be it a song or a product is not correctly priced in our “consumer is king” pandering “Age of Entitlement”
    Rather than worrying about who won’t pay more-use your power and charge what it’s worth. And perhaps the Directors of these services should pay themselves a little less as well,, just a thought.

    Reply
  8. Sparrow Roberts

    Netflix is at 441.07 today, February 3,2015.

    And non-mega acts lose money with the existence of streaming sites that pay pittances that have to add up greatly to be worth anything.

    My masterful Brazilian artists (http://www.salvadorcentral.com) get shafted.

    Reply

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