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Why music lost its commercial value, Pt. 6 - Damn Spotify!

25-06-2018 16:30 GMT

SRL News Column exploring today's (mainstream) music industry.


Discover why music lost its commercial value in this weekly music analysis article exploring to day's music industry from the point of view of fans. June 25, 2018 - Spotify
A special feature article by indie writer, The Ghostwriter


I remember being grossly disheartened, annoyed, disgusted and embarrassed while watching BBC News a few months back after hearing one of Spotify's top music execs say without stuttering for a second that an album is just a playlist. He will remain unnamed mainly because he is probably one of the biggest kahunas in the music industry right now. How could anyone who knows anything about music think that an album - hours, days and sometimes years of hard work picking the right songs, writing, re-writing, recording, re-recording, mixing, re-mixing, and let's not forget the crucial final stage, mastering, part of which includes making the transition between each song and even the arrangement of the songs in the album sometimes as enjoyable as possible - is just a playlist?

I couldn't believe my ears, but then I let it go - until recently when I defiantly decided to give the streaming service a chance. Of course I went for the free service to try it out (with no intention of purchasing, like many fans - wink wink) not because I'm cheap - I mean you'd have to be really stingy not to pay 0.99 pence for access to 40 million songs for three whole months, good God! - if that's not a bargain, I don't know what is. The main reason I had no intention of signing up was because I believe the service's current business model grossly devalues music and its very essence. Now don't get me wrong I think it's an amazing music service, but I'm old school - not old, just old school. What kind of business gives away all its products - 40 million tracks, for one not just low but ridiculous price? It just doesn't sit well with me. The service is worth billions of dollars but hasn't made a dollar in profits since its launch back in 2008. There are small businesses in Africa that are doing much better in terms of profits - it all just seems so ridiculous to me. Yes, there are business strategies in place and there are reasons why it's still one of the world's top music services today but that's another story - and it seems like a bunch of crap, to me at least - that's just how I feel - sue me!
 Now back to my issue with the actual service. I was driving down to the office at London Bridge late one evening when I decided to throw on my favorite 2pac CD - and yes, I still listen to CDs. In fact, some of my favorite albums are still on cassette tapes. Just like I would like to know every single item of furniture or property in my house, I also like to know what music I have and where exactly it is. It's for this reason I don't listen to the radio very much. I don't like surprises musically, not with the current state of mainstream music - which is not so impressive, to say the least. Maybe it's just me, but whatever. I like music that means something not just to me but to the person who is singing it as well. Nowadays it seems like only the latter is the case. These artists must be from Mars - I just don't get them. When the sing about hardship and suffering they're dancing and smiling, just as they would if when they sing about love and joy; when they sing about hatred and pain, again, they're dancing; when they sing about death, they're dancing too - I've never been that happy in my life and to be honest I think if I was I would check myself into a mental institution voluntarily. I miss the good old days when singers could move me to tears. Or is it just me? Am I going soft?

So anyways, while listening to my 2pac CD I remembered another album that was locked in my glove compartment and I couldn't get to (don't ask me why - listen to some Jay-Z if you really need to know), one thing led to another and I had downloaded the Spotify app. It was amazing all the way to the office but then on the way home I decided, you know what, I've been listening to so much old school for so long, let's try something different - and that was when the profitless, mindless music discovery service instantly killed my buzz quicker than a senseless Kanye West rant. There was so much music on there I couldn't pick even 1 single song. Even when I found a song I liked I was itching to click on the skip button just to hear what was next. Of course after about 6 skips Spotify cut me off and I had the pleasure (not) of having A$AP Rocky, Drake, Gucci Mane, Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, Rick Ross, JayZ, Nicki Minaj, Iggy Azalea, Cardi B and a host of other very pompous (yet lovable) acts tell me how amazing they are, how much money they have, how many bullets they've got, how much their jewellery costs, how sexually appealing they are, how good their drugs are, and then cum in my ears at the end of each song - all the way home that night, and for a very low price (free). It was not cool.

So I ask again, what type of business gives away all its products in one sale for nearly nothing - if it's not going out of business? Nobody can handle 40 million tracks at once - what happened to a little scarcity to add a little excitement? What happened to genre classification e.g. a Spotify app for Hip Hop, a Spotify app for Pop, a Spotify app for Rock, and one for those who want everything all at once? Or how about Spotify for Premieres? - for those who only want new songs, or Spotify Old School for those who only want old school stuff. Yes, there are playlists but that's not enough when dealing with 40 million records. But it's not just Spotify, there's too much music everywhere. Artists are releasing all their music at once, mixtapes are splattered all over the place for free, music outlets are giving songs and albums away at ridiculous prices - it all makes the music industry seem worthless and in turn makes the value of music plummet lower and lower, when it seems to have already hit rock bottom years ago. There's too much supply, and not in a good way. Why don't these damn mainstream artists and record labels who already think they are so amazing just go away for a while and give us a chance to miss them instead of ear fucking us all year round and being too tired to hear themselves doing it?
So here's my one and only one word for the Spotify suggestion box (if there isn't one, they clearly need one) and also for other streaming services. It even applies to today's mainstream artists and bands as well - it's marketing and promotion 101 so they've probably all heard it at least once - scarcity (it's that thing that creates value in business).

Thanks for reading, don't forget to share.

PS: I didn't mind all the ladies cumming in my ears (talking about Miley Cyrus. Wink, wink, tongue sticking out).


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