041114 / by Simeon Smith

And so, at the pinnacle of artistic integrity we find the archetype of our species rejecting mainstream monetisation of fandom via ads inserted not-so-subtly  alongside her craft, and insisting on her audience accepting her work on her own terms. That’s right, people, I’m talking about Taylor Swift taking her songs off Spotify. I have previously ranted against ad-funded streaming on the basis that it turns YOU, the listener, into to the product for corporations to exploit – I’m quite happy with artists exploiting their work for money, but exploiting their fans? Well that’s a discussion which has raged on all over the web between people far brainier than myself for the past few years and has been well documented.

The news of Taylor’s massive stand against corporate power (and for massive, read “Gah, I really couldn’t care less”), comes in the same week as industrial autobot Trent Reznor admits that the era of people paying for music has probably come and gone. And you know, if we are admitting that fans aren’t going to pay for our wares,  and that ad-based streaming doesn’t work for everyone, and then this is huge. Really huge.

Really huge for Trent Reznor, Taylor Swift and the relative handful of other musicians that actually still make any money out of music.

As a listener this should interest you in no way whatsoever. If it’s not on Spotify and you don’t want to pay for it, then Swift’s new album will be on YouTube or another free streaming service half an hour after it comes out. That album and every other piece of music you’ve ever wanted to hear. Right there. On the web. Just type it into the box at the top of your screen and click play.

And what about the rest of us artists? Normal artists. Who barely cover the costs, if that, of each album they produce. Normal people. Those of us that play wherever we’re asked and hope that the cost of petrol to get there isn’t more than the pittance we’ll be handed at the end of the night. Those of us that sit in our dayjob, then go home and work all night on the next instalment of awesome. Our problem is not if we get paid for our music. Our problem is not streaming our music at the expense of our integrity. 

Our problem is getting heard at all. 

Now, I’m not complaining. Just hungry.


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