David Byrne: ‘The internet will suck all creative content out of the world’
The boom in digital streaming may generate profits for record labels and free content for consumers, but it spells disaster for today’s artists across the creative industries
Text by David Byrne
Published in the The Guardian,
Awhile ago Thom Yorke and the rest of Radiohead got some attention when they pulled their recent record from Spotify. A number of other artists have also been in the news, publicly complaining about streaming music services (Black Keys, Aimee Mann and David Lowery of Camper van Beethoven and Cracker). Bob Dylan, Metallica and Pink Floyd were longtime Spotify holdouts – until recently. I’ve pulled as much of my catalogue from Spotify as I can. AC/DC, Garth Brooks and Led Zeppelin have never agreed to be on these services in the first place.
So, what’s the deal? What are these services, what do they do and why are these musicians complaining?
There are a number of ways to stream music online: Pandora is like a radio station that plays stuff you like but doesn’t take requests; YouTube plays individual songs that folks and corporations have uploaded and Spotify is a music library that plays whatever you want (if they have it), whenever you want it. Some of these services only work when you’re online, but some, like Spotify, allow you to download your playlist songs and carry them around. For many music listeners, the choice is obvious – why would you ever buy a CD or pay for a download when you can stream your favourite albums and artists either for free, or for a nominal monthly charge?
Not surprisingly, streaming looks to be the future of music consumption – it already is the future in Scandinavia, where Spotify (the largest streaming service) started, and in Spain. Other countries are following close behind. Spotify is the second largest source of digital music revenue for labels in Europe, according to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). Significantly, that’s income for labels, not artists. There are other streaming services, too – Deezer, Google Play, Apple and Jimmy Iovine of Interscope has one coming called Daisy – though my guess is that, as with most web-based businesses, only one will be left standing in the end. There aren’t two Facebooks or Amazons. Domination and monopoly is the name of the game in the web marketplace.
Read whole article here: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2013/oct/11/david-byrne-internet-content-world
Why David Byrne is wrong about Spotify
Musicians such as Byrne and Thom Yorke can’t blame the internet for their problems. We need to work with new markets, not reject them
Text by Dave Allen
Published in theguardian.com, Wednesday 16 October 2013 08.16 EDT
It feels strange to sit down and begin writing a rebuttal to the declamation of a musician who I really admire. David Byrne wrote an article last week for the Guardian in which he states: “I’ve pulled as much of my catalogue from Spotify I can.” Thom Yorke has made similar remarks and has removed the catalogue of his band Atoms For Peace from Spotify too. In an interview, he said: “What’s happening in the mainstream is the last gasp of the old industry. Once that does finally die, which it will, something else will happen.” He says this without apparent irony given that “something else” is already happening now and he’s complaining about it. He also took things a bit further with a stronger comment in an interview with Mexican website Sopitas, saying of the music business: “This is like the last fart, the last desperate fart of a dying corpse.” OK, then.
What we have here are two bold statements from two bold-faced musicians who want to save musicians and a so-called dying music industry and yet, for all their best intentions, I believe they are doing music and musicians a disservice. And of course, as the articles are shared far and wide across the apparently much-hated web, they become gospel to those who read them and unfortunately become quasi-religious texts to musicians of all stripes who blame the internet for everything that is wrong with their careers.
Here’s my take on it, which I will try to make as succinct as possible. The internet and Spotify (or any other streaming music service for that matter) are not to blame for musicians’ problems. It is hard for me to understand why intelligent people like David Byrne and Thom Yorke do not appear to understand that we are in the midst of new markets being formed. I would also add that many journalists and media commentators don’t understand this phenomenon either. It is not about technology; it’s about systems and societal shifts. It’s also about music business bubbles…
Read whole article here: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/oct/16/why-david-byrne-wrong-spotify-thom-yorke