A lot of things have been going on in the music and podcasts universe. Have you heard? Spotify stood by their most famous podcaster and some musicians decided to take a stand and leave. In this episode, Ciyadh discusses this latest controversy with Spotify, Neil Young, and what that means for artists and music lovers moving forward because some changes are coming.
Topics also discussed:
1. Current Spotify Situation
2. Streaming model’s negative impacts on the music community
3. The future of music streaming is no longer complete
4. How to better support individual artists
Spotify pulls Neil Young’s music after his ultimatum regarding Joe Rogan and ‘fake information about vaccines’ - The Washington Post
Nils Lofgren, Spotify, and Neil Young from Rolling Stones
Brene Brown Spotify Podcast Joe Rogan Controversy from The Verge
Harry and Meghan Spotify Misinformation News from CNN
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[00:00:00] Ciyadh: Hello, this is Musically Cogitating issue about music, the people who make it and about how all of that continues to impact the way that you and I live our everyday lives. If this is your first time, or if you've listened to every single episode of this podcast. Thank you so much. And welcome. I'm your host.
[00:00:24] Ciyadh Wells again, like I said, thank you so much for joining me here today. If you could please go ahead and use the link in the show notes to review this podcast on Apple Podcasts or Podchaser that would be really great and amazing. And also check the show notes for any important and relevant links, including a link to the transcript for this episode.
[00:00:50] So I'm getting to you doing transcripts and the link for that will be in the show notes.
[00:01:00] So I had a different topic planned for this week. And in a sudden stroke of genius, as I'll say, or you could just say I got inspired. I decided that I wanted to cover something that felt a little bit. More timely, but also something that is really important to me and continues to be something that I want to talk about.
[00:01:22] Not only on the show, but in all of the other places where I talk about music and recording and being an artist and supporting artists and all of those types of things. So this week there's been a lot, a lot, a lot going on. And the music community broadly in, in the music industry, if you would like to call it such a thing, although industry seems a little bit too formal, but you know, I like to call it a community.
[00:01:52] Cause that's what we really are. We're a podcast community and we are a music community. So if you haven't heard or maybe you're just not really
[00:02:00] interested, but I'm going to talk about it anyway. I'm going to break down this week or this past week and what's going to happen this coming up week between Spotify and pretty much everyone else.
[00:02:14] So the beginning of last week, Neil Young, who is a Canadian-American songwriter guitar player informed Spotify, and that he was going to take his music off of the platform because of the continued support that Spotify gives to Joe Rogan.
Now I'm not going to go into all of the details about Joe Rogan, because I don't really want to do that.
[00:02:51] And I don't think that's super relevant to what I want to talk about from my particular angle. But what is happening is that [00:03:00] Joe Rogan runs what's called the biggest podcast in the world.
And his podcast is a Spotify exclusive. And in his podcast, he usually talks about really controversial things.
[00:03:17] And as of late, it has come to the attention of a lot of people that his podcast and his guests spread misinformation about COVID-19 broadly and the efficacy of vaccines. So by way of the show being exclusive to Spotify, because Spotify has a deal with Rogan and because they pay like a million dollars an episode or something astronomical like that. Bu by way of him being a part of the platform, people are kind of taking Spotify to task and saying, you know, you shouldn't [00:04:00] continue to allow his podcast
[00:04:05] Or any type of content on the platform to continue to be there, if it is going to spread dangerous information about our current public health crisis.
And so, you know, I don't listen to the show. Like I said, it's not really my style of podcasts. But I do know that this is an ongoing thing with Joe Rogan and I think he had this problem on YouTube.
[00:04:33] And so, you know, it's kind of, he's going around seeing who will let him be there.
This is the quote that Neil Young said when he was announcing to the world in an open letter that he was going to take his music off of Spotify. He said,
“I support free speech. I have never been in favor of censorship. Private companies have the right to choose what they profit from, just as I can choose not to have my music support a platform that disseminates harmful information. I am happy and proud to stand in solidarity with the front line health care workers who risk their lives every day to help others.”
[00:04:57 And that's the end of the quote.
[00:05:17] So of course, you know, me, I'm in support of stopping the spread of misinformation and all that comes along with that. Essentially Neil Young said you know, you either going to take down this podcast or I am going to take down my music and of course, Spotify pretty much opened the door for Neil Young and waved and then kicked him out.
[00:05:48] As a result, his music is no longer on the platform.
Side note, Apple Music, and his music has always been on Apple Music and like, uh, Qobuz and other sharing platforms.
[00:06:00] I think Neil Young also owns HD tracks. So which is a digital download store or at least one of those platforms. So it's really interesting that all of a sudden Neil Young is upset with Spotify about streaming and this particular thing, when he, of course, has other ways to make money and care and he doesn't need Spotify anyway.
[00:06:26] So I know Apple Music was making all of these like really interesting tweets about, you know, come, come to Apple Music where Neil Young's music is and, and all of this stuff.
So it was just really interesting to see there's always this subtle, but not so subtle streaming or. Going on between all of the, the two major platforms.
[00:06:49] And again, there are other streaming platforms where yes, you can find Neil Young's music and music of a lot of other people.
[00:07:00] All of this controversy with Spotify and Neil Young and several other artists who decided they were going to take their music away from the platform, including, Joni Mitchell.
[00:07:10] This started a lot of controversy about misinformation. I'm not gonna say controversy. I'm going to say it started a conversation about misinformation, censorship, corporate responsibility, which is what I call it, money, power. And many other things, and not only that but other musicians of all kinds have come up and started to support Neil Young and decided that they too were going to take their music off of the platform.
[00:07:34] But there are some other famous podcasters whose podcasts are also Spotify exclusives who said they wouldn't be posting until like Spotify figures this out. Everyone was really vague about it, but they said we’re going to not put up a show until you take Joe Rogan way. It was more of just like, until Spotify decides to put out a press release and that I'm happy with [00:08:05]
I'm not going to post any more shows and that's totally fine. You know, like it's, it's not a big deal. I don't listen to anything that is exclusive to Spotify anyway. So that's not affecting, you know, my information diet or my entertainment consumption, but I'm sure for a few people, it totally will. And that's an unfortunate thing because those things are important to us, whether it is that we learn something educational or informational, or if it's something that we just enjoy, you know, anytime that something that we enjoy no longer exists, even for a short period of time, it can just be a little disappointing.
[00:08:50] So what's interesting too, is according to Spotify, they do take down misinformation apparently across [00:09:00] thousands of podcasts on their platform. None of this can actually be confirmed. Like no one actually knows if Spotify actually does take down podcasts that spread harmful and dangerous information relevant to our public health crisis, or other things as well.
[00:09:21] So, you know, we don't really know if that's true, but that's what they say. So if you want to believe that, that's totally fine. Many other musicians of course have come out and said that they will be taking the music away from the platform. So this is important and this is what I want to talk about more in just a moment.
[00:09:42] Out of all of this though, the one thing that is abundantly clear is that Spotify isn't really concerned with people. So I'm going to call people, musicians and consumers, music, listeners, podcast listeners. They're not really [00:10:00] concerned with people leaving the platform. Although apparently last week they lost like $4 billion dollars in market value.
[00:10:07] According to what I read and I'll have that article linked. So maybe they do care a little bit, but I think they're not going to really change their behavior. I think that they will continue to support the spread of dangerous ideas and misinformation, and that's because of how their business model works.
[00:10:27] So they don't really care about Neil Young or Joni Mitchell or anyone else who has music on the platform. Because like I said, how their business model works, they don't really make money off of those people anyway. And neither do that many artists, at least some of the bigger ones. They don't make a lot of money off of the platforms anyway.
[00:10:50] And, and like I said, Neil Young doesn't really need Spotify. So it's also really interesting that he's the one around which all of this controversy sits, but that's [00:11:00] neither here nor there. When you stream a podcast on Spotify, that's when they make money because they own a lot of podcasting companies and things like that.
[00:11:11] They also own a lot of the podcasts and the content. So they are able to make money off of that from advertising and, and having owned the podcasts. And when you stream music, it doesn't necessarily work that way. There was also some drama about Spotify, not letting people cancel their accounts.
[00:11:34] So when Neil Young said by a lot of people also wanted to follow Neil Young, and I think there are two reasons why there was not letting people cancel their accounts. One reason was of course they don't want people to cancel their accounts. So they made it difficult and their system couldn’t handle the influx of cancellations and they got back up.
[00:12:01] Apparently after you've decided to cancel your account the very last page that you see, like in the web view in Spotify is like a playlist telling you like goodbye, see you later. So that's just something that I read. And I don't know if that's true, but if it is wow, like we will definitely have to talk about that.
[00:12:26] So, ultimately it doesn't really matter to Spotify if the artists are there. Not because they're not really making money on music, we all know that Spotify is also the world's biggest, if not second largest podcast platform. They are less concerned with music and most concerned with podcasts, which is why they will continue to allow, you know, podcasts to spread information that is interest and harmful to the lives of people all around.
[00:13:02] Now I want to talk about why now, why this moment and to be frank, to be honest, I'm not really sure because podcasts like Joe Rogan's and like those that spread similar types of information and have always been around. They're not new. They've been around for a really long time and, you know, controversy, isn't new to Spotify in general.
[00:13:37] It's not new to these types of platforms. And so what made it really relevant and important now? And I think that people are kind of just fed up with what's happening and they're tired of hearing about it. And so they want to say something, they want to do something. They want it to go away.
[00:14:00] Sure. I think another reason is that some people are seeing that they actually have the power to influence change in our community and in our society. And so they're saying, you know, hey, I'm going to do something. I'm going to stand up on behalf of all of those who don't have the same privilege or opportunities that I do.
[00:14:22] And I think that's a good thing. And ultimately after all, we vote with our dollar, right? You know, if you give money to a company that can be one way of saying that you're okay with what that company is doing, whether it is something positive that the company is doing, or if that company is continuing to perpetuate harm on people and the environment and everything else.
[00:14:53] Now this is not an absolute. We're going to CC Amazon and anything related to Amazon on this, [00:15:00] because a lot of us do not necessarily love using Amazon. But we are in a position where Amazon has become our only choice. And so I totally understand that it is really complicated, but one way of showing support for a company is to continue to be a customer.
[00:15:18] And so if you no longer want to be a customer, you can take your dollars and use them elsewhere, so people are really seeing that they can take a stand. I think also this about control. It's not super well known how all of this works, and this is on purpose break. Your companies don't want you to know how all of this works, but it's not super well known that a lot of artists don't actually own their music anymore.
[00:15:52] Some of them own it. A lot of them don’t. A lot of it is owned by record labels and even more now music [00:16:00] and copyrights and masters and all of that is owned by hedge funds. So when you were streaming anyways, it probably like a lot of that, three tenths of a penny or whatever of a cent, tt wasn't going to the individual artists or to the funds that pay the artists.
[00:16:19] Anyway, it was going to these hedge funds and people who don't care, who are not artists, who don't support artists, who don't like music at all, who aren't concerned for our community. So it was just about, you know, these people who are trying to make a quick buck. And I think that is one of the reasons why we're not seeing more artists leave the platform and it's because they can't like, they cannot take their music and say, oh, this isn't going to be a place where it exists anymore because they don't control their music in a way.
[00:16:56] That would allow for them to make that decision. [00:17:00] And even if they did, it doesn't mean that they would be afforded, like I said, the same privilege and opportunity that folks like, you know, young and Joni Mitchell and other people. Because, you know, for the people who do get some money, the smaller artists like myself who do get money from streaming, you know, that supports our careers and our livelihoods and our families.
[00:17:25] And so we might not be able to just take our music away from a platform where, where we do receive actual. Revenue. So I think what this moment is telling us is that. If you are an artist and you feel inclined, you can take a stand against something that you don't like. I think that that's ultimately what this is saying.
[00:17:56] So it's not really about Spotify. It's not really about the spread of misinformation. [00:18:00] It's about artists being in control of their music and wanting to take a stand against something that they don't like. And I think that we will see more of this happening more and more people are feeling inclined and emboldened to stand up against large companies.
[00:18:19] Unfortunately it seems that this matters when large amounts of money are involved. And for people like me and like you canceling our accounts, taking their music away, it doesn't often impact the bottom line in a way that we would hope. But yes, famous people, large groups of people with lots of power and influence can get a lot of people.
[00:18:43] It still doesn't mean that Spotify is going to do anything or, you know, you can interchange Spotify really with any platform or company. It doesn't mean that they're going to do anything, but, you know, as I always like to say, at least people will be tweeting about it. So what does that mean for you? How does [00:19:00] this impact your life as someone who is listening to.
[00:19:04] It's like this one or who is just listening to music. It consumes music as part of your everyday life. And I think that it means that we're is that we're going to have to get used to the idea that not everything is going to be available everywhere. And we are, we're used to this with. TV and visual media, because we've come to accept and pay for all of these different TV streaming services.
[00:19:29] You know, back in the day, it was our hope and our dream that we could just have al la carte cable. And now that we have al la carte cable, we spend more money than we did before, because we had to have a subscription for each individual streaming platform. And I think we've come to accept this, but we're not using.
[00:19:49] With podcasts and with music, because to some degree we don't see enough of what goes into making music. We don't understand how much it [00:20:00] costs. And so, because we can't see it, we assume that it doesn't cost a lot to make it therefore. We believe that it should receive less monetary compensation. Now that doesn't mean that people don't value music in their lives, because I think that they do, I value music so much.
[00:20:19] I mean, maybe I'm the exception because of pay for music. But I think people in general, even if they don't, they value music as part of their lives. And so they do really care. And I think that the streaming model has negatively influenced our relationship to compensation and value when it comes to paying for, and listening to music.
[00:20:44] Of course, this doesn't bring into account touring and merchandise that the other ways that artists make. Which is a different podcast and probably a different series all in itself. But as listeners and as consumers, we're going to need to [00:21:00] understand. We will need to invest in artists. And we're going to be able to view that we're going to need to do that in two ways.
[00:21:07] So we're going to need to own more of the music that we want via digital and analog consumption format, because it's not going to be available everywhere. And we need to understand that we might need more than one streaming platform subscription, which is not what people want to hear. We want one thing to cover it all.
[00:21:27] What we used to have for cable and still do have for cable is what we want for music. And we're not going to be able to have that anymore. And I think that as music lovers, we will need to ultimately renew our commitment to supporting individual artists and artistic communities at large. So supporting artists as individuals or as groups, and as part of our community, we will have to support them.
[00:21:55] And we will have to work diligently to focus, not so [00:22:00] much on these large companies. Be it Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal you know, we're going to have to focus on doing it for the individual people, people who make the music, the people who actually impact our lives it's cause it's not Spotify who actually impacts my life.
[00:22:18] It is all of the people in the music we called shared podcast playlist, whose music that I really enjoy it. I think you would too. It's those people who impact mine and your life. So we're going to have to make some decisions. We're going to have to think about the individual artists, the groups of artists, who we want to support, who we want to continue to exist now.
[00:22:44] And you know, long into the future, because you started companies, they don't care about you. They don't care about me. They don't care about artists. They tend to actually abuse and neglect artists. And so we [00:23:00] will just need to continue to care about people more deeply. We may not always be able to make such choices on, on a large scale for everyone, but.
[00:23:13] We can do this for some of the people whose music impacts our lives, who it gives meaning to whose music is the soundtrack to our lives. Like we can pick a few people and really support them diligently. And if we all did that, I think we could be in the same place or even a better place. Artistically, you know, artists, we call ourselves the
[00:23:40] culture barriers. You know, the people who continue to make and shape culture. And we are such a part of culture. We are so valued that other people get to make money off of our work. They make more money off our work than we do. And it's time to change that [00:24:00] even if it's only in a small and subtle way, as you know, you and me as consumers
[00:24:08] because when artists take a stand. When artists call for change, things change and things happen, and artists are a part of that change. And so we need to pay attention to this sooner. When people who are not, you know, really large artists, even Taylor swift, who, you know, has had controversy with the different platforms.
[00:24:29] Like we need to listen to all of the smaller artists as well, because even though you might say, well, no, no, one's talking about it. People are always, definitely talking about it. You just have to make sure that you're listening. So I'm saying all this to say that you don't have to cancel your account. I'm not asking you to cancel your account or anything like that.
[00:24:51] But what I am asking is that you look for ways to support individual artists and artistic communities that are more impactful and [00:25:00] meaningful, and that you always listen to artists, not just the really popular ones. Since this is a show about music. It's time for me to recommend to you something to listen to you.
[00:25:14] And. Oh, I gotta go in this week. I'm going to recommend Emanation by Immanuel Wilkins. And yes, this is jazz because it's jazz, but this, this song is so good and it just came out, uh, this past week. And so I would highly recommend you take a, listen. It is linked in the show notes like it always is.
Don't forget to follow the podcast on social media and to visit the website and to read through the transcripts so that you can share and in the transcripts of the people, if they would prefer that as a way of consuming this podcast.
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[00:26:42] So that's all I have for you today. We'll be back very, very soon, sooner than you think with the next episode of the Musically Cogitating podcast, until then.