9 Artists Reveal Why You Won't Find Their Music on Spotify
The debate over Spotify’s business model is met with controversy and vitriol by many a marquee name. Taylor Swift recently pulled her catalogue from the service. Legends Led Zeppelin and Bob Dylan were long-time holdouts. Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich notoriously took to Twitter with a series of incendiary tweets calling out shareholders for “rolling in” profits without properly compensating artists. Keep scrolling to find out which artists are standing up against the music subscription juggernaut with boycotts and protests of their own design.
In an op-ed for The Guardian, the iconic frontman discussed his thoughts on the music streaming business in full detail, debating everything from the alleged virtues of the service (Do people really discover new artists while streaming, or do word of mouth and live shows still reign supreme?) to the business model itself. “It seems obvious that some people are making a lot of money on this deal, while the artists have been left with meagre scraps.” All in all, the artist remains opposed and has edited his own catalogue meticulously from the site.
Swift’s move to pull her #1 album 1989 off Spotify made headlines, inciting plenty of commentary on both sides of the fence. In her oft-cited op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Swift criticised music streaming services for devaluing music and exploiting artists. She writes, “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion 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.”
Though Beck’s much-anticipated album Morning Phase is now available on Spotify, but the singer has spoken out against the service. He takes issue with both the profit sharing and the sound quality itself: “I think the saddest thing about streaming is the issue of sound quality. It’s like watching Citizen Kane on your phone.” He further stated, “What Spotify pays me is not enough to pay the musicians playing with me or the people working on the disks. The model does not work.”
One side of the debate hinges more on quality than dollars and cents. Foals frontman Yannis Philippakis made waves when he told Channel 4 news, “I’d rather somebody stole the record on vinyl that bought it or streamed it on Spotify.” He continues, “I think you should listen to music on vinyl, and I think that’s basically better than anything on Spotify.”
Ohio rockers The Black Keys have a long-standing track record of boycotting the full spectrum of streaming sites, including Spotify, Rdio, MOG, and Rhapsody. Both their latest record, Turn Blue, and 2011’s El Camino remain conspicuously absent from the group’s page. Outspoken critics of the size of royalties received for streams of their work, they remain adamantly opposed to the service’s business model and boycott on principle.
Coldplay withheld the streaming of its most recent album, Ghost Stories, allowing only the first three singles (“Magic”, “Midnight,” and “A Sky Full of Stars”) to be in rotation via the site at first. At the time of release, Spotify placed a message on the band’s page directly pointing to the conflict, stating, “The artist or their representatives have decided not to release this album on Spotify. We are working on it and hope they will change their mind soon.”
Though Radiohead’s music remains available on Spotify, Nigel Godrich and Thom Yorke removed the Atoms for Peace album Amok in addition to Yorke’s The Eraser. Yorke tweeted, “Make no mistake new artists you discover on #Spotify will not get paid. Meanwhile shareholders will shortly [be] rolling in it.”
Signed to Chicago-based label Drag City, indie crooner Joanna Newsom and her label mates don’t offer their work on the site. Until recently, Seattle-based Barsuk Records took a similar stance, insisting the streaming service did not generate sufficient revenue to justify the publishing of its artists’ catalogues. Many indie artists stay on board for the exposure. For some, the juice simply isn’t worth the squeeze.
While this Brooklyn indie rock band’s catalogue remains available for streaming, the members strongly encourage fans to get out and buy the record (a reasonable request). Grizzly Bear jumped into the polarised debate, posting to Twitter, “Mog and Spotify do not help bands or labels or indie stores. Not shaming you, just stating facts since someone asked.”