Matthew Kuritz is a contributor to Metal Delirium. Earler this week, Sumerian Records responded to him via Twitter regarding criticism over pulling out of Spotify. Following Sumerian’s response, Kuritz was kind enough to further share his thoughts on the issue regarding Spotify with Metal Insider.
“@MDBlitz @prostheticrcds @metalblade@centurymediaeu we rather be able to send our bands around the world on tour, make music videos and continue to support their careers and livelihood. Go to YouTube if you want to hear all our music. We are all about exposure but only major labels have equity in Spotify. All us metal labels will join forces and make our own so that our artists can still eat.”
@MDBlitz our music is on Spotify, just not every single song. You don’t need to hear 12+ songs to decide if you’re interested in a band.
@MDBlitz you can hear every album song on our YouTube channel. And we have specific songs from all albums on Spotify too. Party on”
These were the responses that Sumerian Records sent to me in reply to my arguments regarding Spotify. But what were my comments? What were my arguments? The entire basis of sending these record companies, not just Sumerian, is that I paid my subscription for Spotify on the basis that I thought I was going to be able to listen to music by bands. Not just bands that I already knew but bands that I perhaps wanted to look into in the past and had forgotten about. Bands from the record labels’ back catalogues that might not have been heard from in years. Spotify at its very core is about music discovery and sharing that with your friends. Why else does it have Facebook integration? Why can my friends see what music I am listening to in my news feed? Which, by the way, a few of my friends actually discovered new music based off of that function, but I guess they don’t see that. You can also share tracks via Twitter and Email. Oh but I guess that is just wrong? I guess nobody wants to discover new music.
Look, it’s public knowledge that the bigger record companies own stock in Spotify and they are the ones making money. My point is that their artists are the ones getting paid the same as the artists on any other label. They all get paid the same amount of royalties per play. But the smaller companies don’t make enough money. NEWS FLASH: they are making the same amount. Their music just is not as popular as others. All we hear is “Don’t pirate music” and now “Don’t stream music.” What are we supposed to do other than buy albums? Apparently listen to music on YOUTUBE. I suppose that is the greatest way to find new and exciting music, because everybody has heard of every band on YouTube and knows what to search for. We have to sit through advertisements and wait for music videos (which are also a dying format) to load. If you really wanted to get optimistic about this you could go and DOWNLOAD the videos off YouTube and convert them to MP3 and have them for free. Shame isn’t it?
The “indie” record companies have lost touch with what the fans want. Sure, perhaps an album sells 40,000 copies in a month; that album might have also been downloaded 500,000 times that month. Not so bad right? The record companies probably lost more money than anybody else in this. It’s a well known fact that bands aren’t making money off album sales. Granted, most bands don’t want something they view as their “child” stolen and I completely understand that. But this entire battle comes down to record companies not making enough money. Bands make their profits on merch and ticket sales. But how does Spotify tie into all of that? I’ve gone to about six shows in the past year (mostly due to the horrible area we live in) but all of them have been sold out. Why? Oh, a little thing called music discovery. Sure most of the people haven’t purchased the albums and may not purchase any merchandise. But they purchased tickets, they came to the shows, and they helped the band. They will spread the word to their friends about that “shitty opening band” that turned out to be really good. You go and listen to ONE song on YouTube and you think “Hmmm, not bad.” Then what? You go and buy the band’s newest CD and every song sounds the same and you have wasted your money. Although, you could have gone on Spotify and listened to that album and formulated an opinion, but that wouldn’t make sense. Not everybody likes EVERYTHING. Some people will purchase an album outright, some will only listen to it on Spotify, and some will go on iTunes and purchase the songs they like. All-in-all it is still a way for record companies and bands to make money. Be it pennies or dollars, they all add up. At least it’s more than pirating music.
But what do the musicians have to say?
Iced Earth’s Jon Schaffer:
“But Spotify is one of the most important developments in music I’ve seen in quite awhile. It allows fans to search for music from bands all over the world – sometimes rare, impossible to find, or out-of-print music. They hear it, decide they like it, and seek it out to buy it from a variety of sources – legal sources like iTunes, Amazon, or Amazon Marketplace. That’s a good thing. Stealing music is not. But sampling it on Spotify – which is legal and highly regarded worldwide – is not stealing it. If it were up to me, I’d put Iced Earth’s music back on Spotify” Iced Earth
Jon Kevill of Warbringer:
“Basically, if you’re a band that’s trying to get heard, it doesn’t hurt you. If you’re a band that’s trying to get heard, it’s helpful for you. If you’re a band trying to make a living as a band, it makes it way harder. However, there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it. It is the modern age. People can get your music for free if they choose to. There’s no point in rallying against it because it’s just futile. We’ve all downloaded records before.” About: Heavy Metal
This quote is from a MetalSucks article:
“Since [Talib Kweli’s] release went live on Spotify we’ve streamed the album over 70K times. I know what skeptics will say; our revenue from those streams is about $7. Who cares? Our web traffic has more than tripled in terms of site visitors & discussion… we’re getting real-time feedback from listeners on which tracks they favor and are able to adjust our marketing accordingly with most of our budget still intact. The group & the album have a legitimate buzz now.”
Al Dawson U.S. Boss at Earache Records spoke to Metal Insider:
“I think it is no coincidence that when Spotify launched here in the USA, we also had our best ever month of sales on iTunes. Spotify is just one of the many new ways that fans can find and listen to new music by our recording artists and should be seen as that and nothing more.”
Ok so I’m sure I need to include a too long, didn’t read version of this so here it is: Spotify should be looked at as something for music discovery, to discover new bands. It’s to help people find music that may not be available in their area or something that is in general hard to find. You can’t view it as a business model, as a way to MAKE money. It’s never going to be that. Since its inception Lady Gaga has only made roughly $160. LADY GAGA, the biggest pop star in the world right now, yes, that’s right. And yet, these companies stay in the model of years past. Digital media and streaming is the way of the future and it should be embraced.