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Ministry boss challenges streaming platforms to put a value on curation

By | Published on Thursday 17 September 2015

Ministry Of Sound

So, the value of curation has been back in the spotlight of late as the influence of playlists on the big streaming platforms has become a regular topic of debate, and even more so in the side discussion about labels bunging influential playlist owners cash to include their shitty tracks on their Spotify line-ups, or ‘playola’ as I reluctantly sense we’re now calling it.

The argument goes: Given that there is no revenue to be made in compiling playlists, however many listeners that playlist may attract, does that not make compilers more prone to sneak a few paid-for tracks onto their lists, in the hope that a just a little subtle playola won’t ruin the entire playlist, and won’t come to the attention of the Spotify police, who are trying to stop such practices via the service’s terms and conditions that no one reads (except on that one day when one person actually does and s/he loudly declares the streaming service to be a prolific privacy-right-violator).

So, should the streaming services be offering some revenue share with playlist owners too? This subject is of particular interest to Ministry Of Sound boss and famous streaming service disparager Lohan Presencer, who went legal with Spotify for a time over the value of the tracklistings of his firm’s extensive compilations catalogue.

And while his label’s original releases are now available on Spotify, though not Apple Music, he remains a vocal critic of most streaming music companies, and the value – or undervaluing – of curation remains an issue for the Ministry chief.

Speaking to Music Ally this week, he said: “Music services who espouse the value of curation, and their support of independent labels, need to put their money where their mouth is. We’ve established ourself as the best in the world at selecting dance music, whether it be in our club, on our label, or on our compilations. Surely that has a value, and is not something that comes for free?”

He mused on: “The major labels have no interest in exploring this because the model that they have promoted values content ownership alone. So it is up to the Apples and Spotifys of the world to help us find a way through, if they really mean what they say when they tell us that they want to”.

Ironically given he is now licensing Spotify but not Apple Music, Presencer says he has more optimism about the latter delivering in this space. “Spotify have not established a model for valuing curation, and as such our compilations will not appear on their service. They don’t seem to be making any moves to rectify that situation. I am more hopeful about Apple”.

He added: “They make the right noises and say they want to help, but they now need to step up to the mark. I think Apple have the ability to do things differently, because they’re the richest company in the world and because they can make unique creative decisions. They just need to focus on the problem and help us try to solve it. Spotify is more difficult: it’s a much more marginal business, with no room for manoeuvre.”

Read Music Ally’s full interview with Presencer – he’s always good value when set off on a streaming rant, isn’t he? – right about here. No need me to pay me for my article curation services, have it on the house.