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Spotify and Message contribute to Godrich and Yorke’s streaming music debate

By | Published on Tuesday 16 July 2013

Brian Message

As the internet started debating anew the pros and cons, for the music business and artist community, of streaming music services yesterday, following Thom Yorke and Nigel Godrich’s criticisms of said platforms on Sunday, Spotify, the main focus of the Atoms For Peace men’s remarks, issued a statement defending its commitment to artists of all kinds.

The company said: “Spotify’s goal is to grow a service which people love, ultimately want to pay for, and which will provide the financial support to the music industry necessary to invest in new talent and music. We want to help artists connect with their fans, find new audiences, grow their fan base and make a living from the music we all love”.

The statement continued: “Right now we’re still in the early stages of a long-term project that’s already having a hugely positive effect on artists and new music. We’ve already paid $500 million to rightsholders so far and by the end of 2013 this number will reach $1 billion. Much of this money is being invested in nurturing new talent and producing great new music”.

And finally: “We’re 100% committed to making Spotify the most artist-friendly music service possible, and are constantly talking to artists and managers about how Spotify can help build their careers”.

The UK management community has, in the main, been very supportive of Spotify, with the Chair of the Music Manager’s Forum, Brian Message, aka Radiohead’s manager, a vocal supporter of the streaming music business and what it is trying to do.

Faced with a rebellion on the issue from the frontman and producer of one of his most high profile acts, Message told the BBC yesterday that debate in the artist community was healthy, even if it meant manager and artist disagreeing.

On Spotify et al, he said: “I think myself, and a whole range of managers, look at new technologies such as Spotify as a good thing. The internet is a great way for fans and artists to communicate with each other, and streaming services one of the newer ways for fans and artists to engage, and we want that opportunity to develop and evolve”.

“Obviously when Thom speaks out, I take note and listen”, he continued. “It’s a good healthy debate to be having. And he’s right to ask, what’s in this for new artists and new music. We are all debating this; how, as this model gets bigger, can artists, managers and all creators receive equitable remuneration? It’s a complicated area, but the technology is here to stay, and it’s up to us – and me as a manager – to collaborate with Spotify and other streaming services to find a way to make all this work”.

Although The Godrich Tweets have been mainly spun as a key member of the artist community taking on Spotify, there is a more conventional element to all of this too, in that he and Yorke also heavily imply concerns about the role of the big record companies in the streaming space, putting us into more familiar ‘artists v majors’ territory. There is a feeling that the Spotify business model favours big catalogue owners because it has been driven, on the music industry’s side, by the big catalogue owners.

Of course the majors having an advantage when it comes to reaching and selling to consumers is nothing new, the process of getting music onto radio and into record shops has always favoured big companies and established talent. And at least, because of the infinite capacity of the internet, anyone can get into the iTunes store and onto Spotify, even if smaller acts and labels then have to try harder to score downloads and plays, and may even then struggle to make ends meet on the money generated.

As previously noted, one relatively simple solution to all this is for streaming platforms to help artists initiate other sell-through, of merch, tickets and premium products, something already on the agenda at most streaming music companies, and maybe a couple of lines higher up that agenda after yesterday’s debating.

Meanwhile, Spotify yesterday announced the appointment of a new director of communications for the US in the form of Jason Roth, formerly with iTunes and before that EMI’s Capitol Records. He’s certainly joining Spotify during an interesting week.

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